Lessons Learned from Spartan

041Two days removed from the Spartan Race, I sit here and write with a respectable amount of confidence that I’ve finally washed away all the mud from those “difficult to reach” spots.

However, I’m still left with an insatiable itch for more. As I reflect on all the filthy goodness the Spartan brings, it got me thinking that there are many valuable lessons that can be learned from the madness of it all. More importantly, lessons that can be applied to one’s fitness journey.

All too often, our approach is backwards. We focus on and obsess about what the scale says and how our clothes fit. Don’t get me wrong — having weight loss goals are important and should be taken seriously on a certain level, just not to the point where our whole success and purpose boil down to what an inanimate object like the scale says. Besides, the scale is the master of cruel and unusual punishment. It can have you jumping for joy one day and crying the next.

Instead, why not switch to a “fitness first” approach? It’s no coincidence that the greater the fitness level, the leaner and meaner the body becomes.

So what does Spartan have to do with it? First of all, let’s begin with the end in mind. There is a great amount of exhilaration and a sense of accomplishment crossing a finish line. It’s where all of your hard work and dedication come to fruition. This is experienced at all fitness levels. Whether you’re just beginning your quest or are a seasoned (slightly aged) veteran like me, the satisfaction is always there — everlasting.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s not forget about the journey! And here’s where the Spartan reveals what the process should involve for true success.


Does this sound like you: “I need to get into better shape before I can do something like that.” Quite the contrary! There’s always a wide range of participants — men, women, all with different fitness levels — every year. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to participate. The only obstacle you have to overcome is the decision to do it. But once you do, an amazing thing happens. Your training purpose changes automatically. Instead of worrying about mastering the scale, now your focus is on mastering your fitness.


Nothing worth accomplishing in life is void of challenge. And believe me: Trucking up Thomas Pence Ranch repeatedly will test your limits. Add mud, walls, rope climbs, bucket brigades, and elevation to the madness and even the fittest runners are reduced to slowing down to catch their breath. But continuing to push through and embrace the challenge only makes the accomplishment at the end that much more gratifying. Remember this: The greater you challenge yourself, the greater the results you will receive.


You may not be aware of this, but life will always be filled with obstacles. Some will be small while others greater. Throughout the Spartan there are countless obstacles to overcome — walls to climb, muddy pits to crawl through under barbed wire, hurdles to jump, and walls to climb. Depending on where your fitness level is, how you overcome these obstacles will vary. Initially, an 8-foot wall may feel more like 80. But the more obstacles you have, the better you will get at overcoming them. Rather than viewing obstacles as a hindrance, look at them as a guide. And in time, that same wall will appear more as a small hurdle.


You don’t need to overcome obstacles alone. Most people run the Spartan with a team. Throughout the course, everyone is positive and cheers one another on. Sometimes we need a little boost getting over the walls of life, and having a solid support group will only make the journey easier. So recruit like-minded people and friends for support — a little help from friends can go a long way.


Any great accomplishment deserves a reward. And guess what was waiting at the finish line? A medal, some tall cold ones, and most importantly…the satisfaction of knowing you are now a better person physically and mentally after it’s all done!


I am always amazed at the kid-like nature races like this brings out in everyone. It truly is the best part! Costumes are donned, mud wrestling may ensue, and everyone is time-warped into an ageless bliss. Remember growing up in a world where there were no deadlines, meetings, errands, etc? We simply played. Whatever your motivation for getting in shape, I encourage you to find your fun.

Life always comes with responsibility, but we can still take the time to reconnect with that timeless part of ourselves. Whether it’s the Spartan, going on a scenic hike or simply playing with your kids, take the time to do it every week. Follow this formula and you’ll achieve results greater than imagined and enjoy the journey along the way.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 20 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at championfit@live.com or www.championfit.net.