"I always felt that my greatest asset was not my physical ability, it was my mental ability."
- Bruce Jenner
Every year, elite obstacle racers come together to test their mettle, competing against not only each other, but themselves in the Spartan Death Race. It’s the crazy cousin of normal Spartan Races that you or someone you know may have participated in. The best of the best sign up to compete against others like them, and to see what they are capable of. They will push themselves beyond their imaginable limits. When their bodies want to stop, when they feel like they can’t take another step, they will push themselves to keep moving even further.
“The roots of Spartan Race lie in a different sort of war, and one image encapsulates it more than any other for me. In 2005 two former marines—4 percent body fat, six-footers, ripped—lay in the dirt crying next to a woman who was removing one of her legs. She proceeded to dump water out of it, and then she methodically put it back on, as if this were an act she performed every day.
Earlier that morning, I had told these three competitors that they needed to swim three miles in icy water. They made it, but their times weren’t fast enough, according to the rules I had established—rules of which they had just been informed. While they could continue along the course, they were no longer official competitors. The woman, an amputee, adapted and immediately continued under the revised terms. Even though I knew she was disappointed, she shrugged it off without a second thought. But these ex-marines simply could not adjust their frame of reference.
But the death race will do that to an otherwise accomplished and well-adjusted athlete. It’s meant to push the envelope, meant to take competitors to the edge—and beyond.
This is the ultimate challenge, The Death Race is designed to present you with the totally unexpected, and the totally insane! This endurance race is comprised of mud runs, obstacle racing, trail racing, physical challenges and mental challenges all in a +48 hour adventure race. 90% of you will not complete this endurance race. Please only consider this adventure style race if you have lived a full life to date."
To me, this race is a perfect embodiment of the difficulties that people encounter when they try to push themselves, in any aspect of life. What allows some racers to complete this race, while roughly 90% in a given year will fail? What sets these athletes apart from the rest of the world’s most elite obstacle racers? Why are some people better able to adapt to changing circumstances, while others struggle with continuing on when things get difficult? It’s the same reason some people stick with an exercise routine after starting it, and some quit—it’s about how the handle it, mentally.
I know, it might sound far-fetched, but our mind is actually able to impact how our body acts. Don’t believe me? Here’s a little activity you can try to help demonstrate what I’m talking about. Read this in its entirety first, then go try it. Incorporate as many of your senses as you can. See if, smell it, feel it, hear it, taste it. The more vivid your imagination, the better this will work. Take your time and read through it slowly:
Take a few deep breaths in and out. Concentrate on the feeling of your breath. Now, picture yourself standing in your kitchen. On the counter is a lemon. You pick up the lemon, and feel it in your hand. Notice the color, how the skin feels. Set the lemon down, and pick up a knife. Use the knife to cut into the lemon. See the little droplets of juice splash. Smell the sweet juices as they drip out. Take a wedge you just cut from the lemon, and put it in your mouth. Taste the sour and the sweet. Feel the juices run down your chin.
Is your mouth watering? Can you feel your cheeks puckering? In your mind, can you taste the lemon? Even though the lemon isn’t there, your body reacts to it as if it were. Our mind has control over how our body acts, and if we learn how, we can actually begin to control how our body responds to certain situations. This is, in its essence, one of the main teachings in Sport Psychology.
I look forward to sharing my passion, knowledge, and insight with you. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to contact me by email at AnAthletesMindSF@gmail.com.
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