That’s right, I bought my ticket for the Spartan Race - more than 9 months in advance. You are probably asking yourself why I would voluntarily put myself through this sh*t. What’s the upside? You are paying money to do a race that is painful, dirty and will force you to train at a regular rate for a few months. Sounds like a terrible one sided proposition, but its worth it in the end.
It’s a process
When you start to look at the value of the actual process rather than the goal, that’s when things start to make more sense. When you commit to something, the process of following through with the preparation is more important than the ridiculous medal they give you at the end. It’s a process of personal growth to find out if you can physically complete the race. You are not only training your personality, but you are training your work ethic and your potential determination. In the process, you are improving your ability to complete goals.
You need to commit
Jumping in head first is just the beginning. Some would argue, its the hardest part of the entire process. When you decide to actual buy your ticket, you are committed to putting yourself through pain and train your ass off to get ready for it. Once it’s purchased, it’s done you are going to run the race. The price tag is not only a way to make this venture profitable, it’s an invisible barrier to prevent you from simply skipping the race. If it was free, there would be no loss or punishment for quitting.
This is one of the best parts. You need to train quite a bit for this race. Some of you may already be fit and ready, some may exercise occasionally and some of you might be completely unhealthy. In the end, it doesn’t matter how fit you are as long as you are willing to the work into it.
To start with, I am already a fit/sporty person and I work out a few times a week. If this was a simple race, I’m sure that would cut it, but in this case, you need as much endurance as you do pure power. This race required a more rigorous plan to get ready. That’s when I started to run at least 4 times a week with an average distance of 5kms per run. Since then, my cardio has considerably improved and I can breath much more easily and I feel generally better. You eventually learn to enjoy running and you look forward to it. Once you convert the activity to the point of being a ritual, it’s really easy to stay committed. It’s also a great time to listen to your favourite podcasts or audiobooks.
The best way to get into it is to start by making yourself a plan and write it down. For the first month, it will be difficult to not give up but if you are able to continue into the second month, you might have what it takes.
Fitness and health
There is a very direct correlation between health and success. It’s probably cliché at this point to say, “Take care of your body first”. It’s totally true, when I do a workout in the morning before I start anything, I feel so much better and more motivated to make this day “my bitch”. Fitness not only makes you physically feel better, it allows you free your mind from all the bullsh*t you were stressing out about, at least for a short period of time.
You actually think better and clearer after doing exercise. This is backed by actual science, according to Scientific America, exercise increases blood pressure and blood flow to the brain which makes you think more effectively and faster. It also helps you shift your hippocampus into a higher gear to improve your memory and pattern recognition.
You also start to feel better about yourself and more confident with your decisions. You don’t doubt yourself quite so much and you move a lot faster. Others around you will definitely feel it and react differently. Confidence is extremely important to getting sh*t done, but let’s not get too deep into it.
According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of The Black Swan and Antifragile, vital stressors can be one of the most effective ways to motivate you to complete your goals. While some stressors can simply drain your energy, there is a certain amount of stress that can help you get much more done in your day.
In this case, you can treat the Spartan Race as a stressor. The fear of failure or the fear of quitting and lose face can help you complete your goal. When there is a reason to push yourself further, you will finish it and in turn make yourself more robust.
This is also an exercise in goal setting. Once you set that goal, you can’t let yourself quit. You can compare this process to every other goal in your life. If you can finish a brutal race through mud and fire, you are on the right track to getting shit done. This is the same as working on a startup, if you are willing to put in the work, you will be rewarded a great deal of learning and personal growth and maybe money if all goes well. It it helps, set a strict schedule for your workouts, put them in your calendar and make sure you follow through.
Just like a startup
It’s almost a direct comparison to a startup and their founders. If you treat your startup the same way you would treat the race, you understand that it’s an important process and that the value lies in the learning. If you can’t finish the Spartan Race, it’s unlikely to will be able to follow through with other much, much harder goals. I’m hoping once I finish the race, I will be motivated to take it up a notch, just like I would with a company.
At this point, if you still aren’t convinced, there is no hope for you. There is no measure of rational explanation that will get you to buy your ticket. The only true answer I can give you at this point: