By Jimmy Page, Fellowship of Christian Athletes
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” – Hebrews 12:1
It might seem small to some, but deciding to compete in Spartan Races with my son, Jacob, was huge for us. We started on this path back in July, and it’s reenergized my training and renewed my focus on achieving a new goal—one that makes me push and stretch.
For those unaware of “obstacle racing,” Spartan Races are the premier timed events where you cover distance while clearing obstacles. They challenge your mind, body, spirit and will. Jake and I have completed the first two distances already: the Sprint (3-5 miles, 20 obstacles) and the Super (8-10 miles, 24 obstacles). Both courses were in the mountains and among the top three most difficult offered nationwide.
To call these races a “challenge” doesn’t do them justice. They include the “bucket brigade” (carrying a bucket of rocks 100 yards up and back down a mountain), the “barbed wire crawl” (marine crawling 100 yards under barbed wire through mud and rocks) and the “Hercules hoist” (pulling a 105-pound bag 24 feet off the ground). You get the idea.
The Spartan Races have literally changed my health and my life in a number of ways. Here are the top seven lessons I’ve learned so far.
1. You are capable of far more than you think. This lesson drives all the others. When I first considered signing up, I was worried. Most of us will never know what we are truly capable of because we begin with all the excuses and reasons why we can’t. We stay on the sidelines and don’t try anything big because we’re afraid of failing or looking foolish. By default, we settle for mediocrity—less than our best. I would rather fail going for it than fail because I never tried. And, once you decide to go for it, you’ll be amazed at the barriers you are able to blow through and the obstacles you can overcome.
2. How you see it determines how you approach it. Every barrier can be viewed as an insurmountable obstacle or an exciting opportunity. If you see challenges as something you “get to” do instead of “have to” do, it creates energy and a positive attitude. Dreading a future obstacle doesn’t help you overcome it. Whether it’s worry and anxiety or fear and doubt, these things will not make you better or help your future. Changing my perspective helped me expect great things even in the hardest moments.
3. Focus on how far you’ve come, not how far you have to go. There will be moments in the race (and life) when you don’t think you can continue. The finish line seems so far away. I’ve learned to turn around and gain courage by how far I’ve already come, and that gives me energy to keep moving forward. Celebrate each small victory on your way to the finish.
4. Learn from your mistakes, and don’t make them again. My inexperience led to a costly injury in our first race. I got a serious abrasion that led to infection, all because I didn’t have the right socks! Lesson learned. Now, I won’t make that blunder again. Mistakes happen, but they don’t have to happen over and over again. Learn, change, and do it right going forward.
5. Our mind and spirit can overcome our body. Following one of the most difficult obstacles, I started cramping up severely and thought I might have to stop. In that moment I began to pray for healing. I started to believe and say to my body that I would finish, that my cramps would go away. As I prayed, wouldn’t you know it, my cramps disappeared with each step up the mountain. I praised God for His grace in that moment.
6. Training every day is a must. There are no shortcuts to excellence. As the race days approached, it became even more important to maximize our training each day. Missed days were setbacks. We prioritized and protected what was necessary to be fully prepared for race day.
7. We’re better together. At one point late in the Super race, Jake and I were separated. I was amazed at the negative effect this had on both of us. When we were side by side, it was much easier to push through pain, but racing alone seemed to take the wind out of our sails. Thankfully, we reconnected at the next obstacle and finished strong together.
These lessons have application across every aspect of life. I see things differently. Now, I approach challenges with a renewed sense of determination and optimism. I’m as healthy and strong as I’ve been in years because I’ve had to push beyond my normal limits. I’m also pushing harder than ever to grow spiritually, knowing preparation is key for the battle in this race called life.
I hope this article inspires you to run your race—whatever it is—with endurance. Keep moving toward God’s best in all areas of your life. You can do this!
About the Author
Jimmy Page serves as the Mid-Atlantic Vice President of Field Ministry for FCA. As a 20-year medical fitness leader and former National Director of FCA Health and Fitness, he hosts Fit Fridays on 95.1 SHINE FM. Jimmy is an author of several best-selling books: True Competitor, WisdomWalks, and One Word That Will Change Your Life. He and his wife, Ivelisse, started a cancer foundation called believebig.org following her victory over cancer. They reside in Maryland with their four children. You can email Jimmy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FCA in Kansas City
Interested in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes? For local ministry opportunities and events, visit Metro Kansas City FCA at kcfca.org or call (816) 892-1137 or contact the National Support Center at (816) 289-0909 or (800) 289-0909.