Why I Spartan!

You may be wondering why I’m talking about mud runs and obstacle racing on my personal blog about finances.  I’ve been athletic all my life and active every day, and when I say every day I do mean that I do something athletic daily.  I’m basically the definition of commitment to fitness and I cringe when New Years rolls around and I have to share my gym with the wanna be athletes.  I’m not what you would define as a meathead, I just like to stay in shape and maintain my health, not grunting or dropping the heavy things here. I try to maintain my physique and spend more time on cardio than weights these days.  So why do I bring this up here?  Well to really understand this I would challenge you to understand the meaning behind the race before we can like the two.

I am a fitness fan and have been since I was 19, even though I did play sports in High School.  It all really started because I got a wicked case of mono when I was 19 that left me hospitalized because I couldn’t eat anything due to the inflammation in my throat which worsened to the point where they had to give me steroids to reduce it and allow me to recover.  I even spend a couple of days hooked up to an IV in the hospital because I was that dehydrated.  Before I got the illness I was a robust 6’1″ and 170 pounds.  Afterwards I came out at 145 pounds and lost all muscle tone, yeah I was that sick.  This all lead me to be the sickly looking, gangly teen with no real muscle left and a plethora of sharp boney points.

This was the lightest and unhealthiest I’ve been pretty much in my adult life, I hadn’t weighted 145 pounds since my freshman or sophmore year in High School and even my friends were worried about me due to the amount of time away from school (over a month) and the physique I now displayed.  I also was not allowed to do anything for six months because the steroids they gave me to reduce the inflammation apparently created the problem that if I over exerted myself in the next six months I apparently ran the risk of blowing up, yes literally, my spleen.  Fun times….

So finally mid summer I was given the OK to start working out again and while I had been fit before from a cardio and weight perspective I would never define myself as strong.  I’d run a sub six mile in high school, but given the time off I was happy to run a sub fifteen mile once I was cleared to do things again.  In my heyday I had been able to lift the bar with a couple of plates, read that as 45 on each side, at best.  So you would never classify me as strong or super fast, but I was definitely athletic.  What I was now was anything but, I struggled running, something I never liked, and lifting anything of any measurable amount.  Most of the girls who went to the gym regularly were probably leaps and bounds stronger than me, good for them, but embarrassing for the guy who used to be athletic.

So at this point I resolved to get my athleticism back, the same was Stella got her groove back in the 90s, and really dedicate myself to becoming who I was and then becoming the next best version of myself.  So I started my journey back to health with a newfound determination that I had never had before, I played with the heavy things daily and then did cardio after to make myself the not so skinny and frankly skeletal like teen.  I went daily and created a habit that continues to this day, I’m currently 36, so that’s a lot of consecutive days of being athletic.  People think I’m nuts because I do go daily, in fact in the last 17 years I have probably only been inactive maybe 60 days.  That’s the definition of dedication.  To put this in numbers I have missed roughly 60 days out of the last 6205 days (not accounting for leap year) or .0096% of the days in the last 17 years.  Yeah dedication.

So needless to say I’m active and definitely live and active lifestyle, but as with all things routine can create boredom, which in turn causes one to seek out new experiences.  Cue my first meeting with obstacle mud racing with Warrior Dash.  I ran it, it was fun, and I would do it again, but it wasn’t as fulfilling for me because I wasn’t necessarily challenged.  My first pass at a Warrior Dash I ran with friends, didn’t break a sweat, but all in all we had a good time and I look back at this fondly, but kept thinking that there must be something more challenging that I could dedicate my time to.  That’s when I found Warrior Dash’s angry older brother, the Spartan Race series.

Spartan race has three different levels for the average racer, the sprint, super, and beast all offer different challenges and lengths. It consists of different distances with obstacles build in, that if you fail, well you do 30 burpies because they are just a wee bit evil  I started my first race in 2011 as a sprint, basically the equivalent of Warrior Dash, and was promptly handed my first humble pie.  This race was a challenge, it was fun, it was built on camaraderie and the people I saw racing it were a different breed.  These people were COMMITTED.  Ever seen someone from the army strap their buddy to their back who lost both their legs run a obstacle race?  How about fire fighters in full gear?  Dude in a wheel chair “running” a mud run?  Yeah, that’s the type of commitment that you see at Spartan Races.

These races are also not easy, at this point in my early 30s I was the definition of athletic, weighing in at 175, able to lift well over my weight for most exercises, and also do 90 minutes on the stairs daily (yes daily) I was in fantastic shape.  And this race still kicked my ass. I loved it.  I loved the challenge, the helping people, and the general demeanor of racers as the open races are all about celebrating getting off the couch and actually finishing.  So I had found fitness nirvana and my mud crack, like the drug crack not where I was finding the mud.  All the years I had now dedicated to the gym and staying fit had purpose now, I had something to challenge myself and my talents.

It’s now 2017 and I can say that at the ripe young age of 36 I have completed nine sprints, five supers, and four beasts and am working on finishing my fifth straight year of trifecta.  A trifecta means you completed each race in the same calendar year.  I’m also willing to travel for these races so they are not some super cheap one off.  I’ve done races in Illinois, New York, Arizona, California, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, and Hawaii so I definitely can say that I explorer while traveling for my passion.  The key here is that not only am I dedicated, and a brand advocate, but that it is something that I can liken to financial freedom as well.  You see I didn’t do fantastic overnight at the Spartan Race.  First spear throw, yep missed it 30 burpies for me.  First rope climb gym class style, oh yeah we’re gonna have to do some more burpies on that one.  Balance beam? Fail.  Ring the bell at the end of the rock climbing wall?  Yep failed that too.

The point is that even though I failed each obstacle or challenge I kept coming back and trying again.  It’s not the failure, but the learning you get through each failure.  I now can hit the spear throw pretty routinely, which means I missing my next one now that I’ve written this, but everyone likes burpies.  I completed my Arizona sprint a couple weekends ago and it was the first time I have not had to do any burpies for the entire race.  I’ve been dedicated and have committed time to improving myself for each race and this is the part that likens to financial freedom.  It’s the dedication and perseverance that you have to have to really become that person who can be financially free.

It’s really easy to start on this journey only to quite because the next new iphone came out or you just had to have that slightly nicer car because your old one isn’t as hip anymore.  It’s being able to dedicate yourself to truly changing and embracing the path that will really make a difference in your life.  I could have easily quite after the first one, but I had fun and it was a challenge.  Financial freedom is the same thing   If it were easy everyone would do it, but it’s not.  It take time, perseverance, and dedication.  When we’re first starting off we make mistakes, we learn from them, and we either get back on the horse or claim like the masses that this financial freedom thing is too hard and pretend it’s not possible.  It’s not, it’s just understanding that it takes time and dedication to really achieve your goals.

We live in a society and culture that is the now generation.  Need information, check your smartphone for instant gratification.  Want to grab coffee, hit that drive through and in a couple of minutes you’ll have it, mixed to how you want it.  We’ve gotten used to not having to wait for things to happen and financial freedom is game.  You a waiting game.  You can’t achieve it overnight and it’s easy to give up.  Staying dedicated is the crux of financial independence.  Similarly to my Spartan races, it’s taken me years to have a perfect obstacle race, on the downside my time was slower than normal (doesn’t help I had a case of the sniffles), but that just means I still have room to improve.  It’s why I race, I like the challenge and it always pushes me to do better.  Our finances are the same, always remember the journey makes the finish all that more rewarding.

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