I received a message from my friend, Wesley Chapman, on Friday, February 27th. He had two tickets for a cruise to the Bahamas for me and my wife.
Naturally I was excited but wondered what was the catch. Three things he said, “You have to get to Miami on your own dime, we’re leaving in seven days, and you are going to compete in a Spartan Race.”
Seven days later my wife and I landed in Miami for our Spartan Adventure and I’ve been hooked since.
Since that first race in the Bahamas, I’ve received a ton of positive support from friends and family who can see the benefit of what I’m doing. But, even more surprising is the number of people who think I’m crazy, or wasting my time, or spending too much money, or one of the whole slew of excuses that I’ve been given over the past several months.
Originally I thought that their issues were with what I was doing but I’ve since come to the conclusion that they’re more concerned with what they are NOT doing.
I can think of just as many reasons why men should compete in a Spartan Race as my naysayers can spew reasons for not. For the sake of time, let’s narrow it down to five.
When Robert Baden-Powell, founder of The Boy Scouts of America, was asked what young men should be prepared for, he responded, “anything.”
That’s what the Spartan Race is all about.
I was surprised at the lack of information I received about what to expect for my race in the Bahamas but soon found out that was by design.
Joe DeSena, founder of the Spartan Race believes that in order to get the most from a Spartan Race, you should not know what to expect. You need to learn to adapt to whatever the course may throw at you.
Is life any different for men? You may be dealing with a hosts of unknowns-divorce, illness, financial troubles, or loss of a job. Learning to prepare yourself for the “expected unexpected” will help you in all areas of your life.
Lesson: Prepare today for what may happen tomorrow.
2. Physical Fitness
Okay, so maybe this one goes without saying right?
Not only does the Spartan Race push you to physical extremes-things that you never thought your body could do (8′ Wall Climbs, 30′ Rope Climbs, Slip Walls, Bucket Carries, etc.)-but it also does it in a way you’d never expect.
After my last race in Las Vegas, NV, I found out that I had muscles I never knew existed (too bad it was from the pain I was experiencing).
I believe that physical fitness is one of the core measures of man. Yes, we’re not all at the same level but that’s okay. Men should continually strive to become more fit. Tweet That— Ryan Michler
When I started Crossfit about a year and a half ago, I weighed 50lbs more than I do today. It’s no wonder that I was exhausted at the end of the day! For your reference, 50lbs is the equivilant of $200 of quarters or two small toddlers (it’s a lot of weight to carry around 24/7).
Since getting in shape, everything is better-work, relationships, energy, finances, and more.
Lesson: Exercise daily to improve not only your physical life but every aspect of your life.
3. Mental Fortitude
The mind is weak! I’ll prove it to you.
Around mile six of my nine and a half mile run, I started to get tired-really tired! It wasn’t that my legs were sore or that I had a shortness of breath. It was that my mind wanted me to stop. In fact, it did everything it could to slow me down.
At first, my mind said stop, you’re tired. Next, it manifested it’s weakness as hunger. When that didn’t work, it moved to more drastic measures and told me that I was in pain.
What my mind didn’t realize is that I had made the decision to finish the race long before I ever stepped foot onto the course.
Life is no different. Your mind is going to test your resolve. It’s going to test your commitments to your marriage, your work habits, your exercise program, and every other aspect of life that it can.
If you’re resolve is weak, the mind will win.
Lesson: Make the decision today before the trials come. Decide today what you value, what’s important to you, what you will stand for, and what you won’t.
4. Comfort Zone
I have a friend that talks about the “comfort zone” and the “courage zone.”
The Comfort Zone is where people go to be, well….comfortable. It’s easy, its convenient, it’s relaxed. That all sounds great until you decide that you want to do something with your life and don’t feel like living in your parent’s basement anymore.
The Courage Zone is what lies beyond. Yes, it’s harder. No, you won’t be able to relax. But, if you really want to accomplish things in life, you’ll need to be courageous.
I made the decision to compete in a Spartan Race with seven days notice. I signed up for a tougher race right after I finished the first. When I completed the Spartan Super, I signed up for the Spartan Beast two days later.
I don’t think that I’m ready for the Beast right now but making a commitment to stand in the Courage Zone will force me to prepare (refer to reason one) in advance.
It’s been said that if you make tough decision now, life gets easier. If you make easy decisions now, life gets tougher.
Lesson: Learn to make hard decisions now and push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
I can’t tell you what it feels like to complete something that you thought impossible a year ago. When my wife and I ran across that finish line in the Bahamas, the feeling of pride and excitement was overwhelming.
Last week when I finished the Spartan Super, I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my family that I had finished what I set out to do. The sense of confidence and pride I felt could not be explained.
You know as well as I do that life has a way of knocking us down. The world will beat you up and and kick you while you’re down if you allow it to.
Completing difficult tasks and overcoming obstacles should be your way of telling the world that you’re not done-that you still have more in you. Tweet That— Ryan Michler
I wish I could do justice to the way that I felt at the end of a dusty nine and a half mile trail in the Nevada desert but that is something that you’ll have to experience for yourself.
At the end of the day, the Spartan Race is a metaphor for life.
You can find who you truly are in the midst of adversity. You can free yourself if you learn to push past the pain. You can experience the thrill that comes from overcoming your toughest trials.
I don’t care if it’s a Spartan Race, or a relay race, or a marathon, or even if it means you wake up once this week and do something physically difficult. As a man, it’s your job to do difficult tasks and whether you have someone relying on you or not, you’ll be thankful that you did.