You’ve run the race, faced your fears, and crossed the finish line; now you want your friends, family, and co-workers to do the same. You want them to experience what you have: the rapture and bliss that come with proving yourself out in the mud. You know how it feels to tap your potential and break through boundaries, and you want the people you care about to have taste. Plus you want another friend to celebrate with at the finish line. No shame in that.
But if you’ve ever tried to recruit someone to push their physical limits, then you know that it can be a tough sell. Some people genuinely aren}t interested, and you have to respect that. But more often the excuses reflect people’s fears and insecurities. They’re worried that they won’t be able to rise to the challenge you’ve presented. After doing plenty of recruiting myself, I’ve found that the same excuses come up over and over again. I’ve also figured out the strategies for handling those excuses. So if you're ready to get your squad on board, follow my lead. It’s time for you to build your own Spartan army.
EXCUSE #1: I don’t have anyone to race with.
Really? Because I’m right here offering. If you invite someone to a race, make yourself available to stay with them throughout. You’re the veteran, and you should be willing to shepherd your friends and family in properly by sharing your secrets.
If for some reason you’re not able to do the race with them, introduce them to the friendly and welcoming online communities that provide support for first-time racers. Groups like the Corn Fed Spartans, New England Spahtens, Lonestar Spartans, and others provide supportive groups of like-minded athletes of all strength and skill levels.
EXCUSE #2: I can’t run that far.
One of the wonderful things about obstacle racing is that you don’t have to. The obstacles break up the running, and all but the best mountain runners are hiking the steep hills anyway. Walkers abound at a Spartan Race, and they’re just as valid as the quickest runners on the course.
EXCUSE #3: I’m not in good enough shape for that.
Closely related to excuse #2, this lament is one I hear constantly. However, there are countless stories of people who accepted the Spartan challenge before they felt like they had the stamina or physique for it. Then they used the races (and the training associated with them) to put themselves on a path to better health. A good example is Chris Davis, who took on his first Spartan Race when he weighed 696 pounds. He dropped down to 272—that means he dropped almost two-thirds of his entire body! Less extreme examples abound, but if Chris can do it, anyone can. A quick glance at Transformation Tuesday posts shows the positive power of getting involved with something fun, and letting it take over.
EXCUSE #4: I don’t want to be made fun of.
This insecurity often hooks into the “out of shape” nonsense above. In my experience, Spartans are some of the most supportive people you’ll ever meet. Those most likely to notice you will be the ones offering a hand (or leg, or shoulder) to help you get through it. I’ve never seen anyone get ridiculed at a Reebok Spartan Race, and I’d readily call someone out if I saw it. The bottom line is that by showing up, you’re stepping outside your comfort zone—no matter your body type or size, and that is worthy of respect.
EXCUSE #5: Isn’t that dangerous? I know someone who did a race and twisted/bruised/broke something.
With any activity comes risk. People hurt themselves on treadmills or by doing common household chores or activities. But the truth is, the rates of serious injury at Spartan Races are negligible. They’re about the same as what you’ll find at more common endurance events, such as half-marathons.
EXCUSE #6: Mud runs are for ____________ (losers, weekend warriors, homemakers). I’m a real athlete.
As Spartan Race has grown and more professional athletes from other sports have taken the challenge—often getting crushed by the Spartan Elite racers—this is an excuse that I don’t hear as often as I used to. But you may still encounter it. It comes from competitive athletes who have already established themselves in other disciplines. (Runners, in particular, seem to disdain obstacle races.) If you hear this excuse, challenge the person to try an elite run. Then bring up a few of the accomplishments of some of Spartan’s best: Ryan Atkins, Cody Moat, Rose Wetzel-Sinnett, Amelia Boone, and others whose athletic credentials extend far beyond Reebok Spartan Races.
EXCUSE #7: It’s too expensive.
One of the amazing things about Spartan Race is how the organization values those who want to help. A volunteer shift can score you a free race—it's a sweet deal for those willing to put in the time.
EXCUSE #8: I don’t have a babysitter.
By all means, bring the kids with you! Spartan Kids Races are fun and reasonably priced. You may need someone to watch them at the venue while you’re running; if you can’t find a friend or family member who’s willing to do this, then check in with the social groups listed above. The Weeple Army, for instance, often has a few volunteers who are willing to babysit. They usually post about it on Facebook beforehand.
EXCUSE #9: I’m too old.
With every Spartan race, more people prove that age is just a number. Lynn Marie Tharp-Lowe (nearly 58) started her obstacle-course journey about four years ago and lost over 100 pounds as part of her transformation. James Patrick O’Brien (a.k.a. Mr. Muddy Suitman, age 62) and Stephen John Hulsey (age 74) are both earning double trifectas this year and have done hundreds of races. Linda Barber (age 77) has completed the last three Malibu Sprints. These folks are Spartans in every sense of the word, and are shining examples to the rest of us to live life to the fullest—for as long as possible. If you need to convince somebody, just point them here: "Why 'I'm Too Old for That" Is the Dumbest Thing You Can Say."
EXCUSE #10: I have a bad knee/back/shoulder.
This is probably one of the most often cited excuses, and one of the least valid. Too many people in our society allow themselves to be defined by perceived limitations. My favorite people on the course, and the most inspiring, are those who refuse to succumb to this type of thinking. Like everything in a Spartan Race, limitations are just obstacles. For proof, look to Amanda Sullivan (spinal injury); Todd Love, Earl Granville, and Amy Palmiero Winters (veteran amputees); Misty Diaz and Matt Pevoto (spina bifida); and James Magana (blind). These people redefine perseverance and will, and they prove that anybody with drive to complete a race can do it.
If you hear any of these excuses from your friends, sure this story and then this link. "No excuses" isn’t just a catchy meme. When it comes to Spartan Race, it’s literally true.