Don Devany Explains How to Survive the Death Race, and Life

Presented by Spartan Training®

The Spartan Death Race is as formidable as it sounds. The challenging 72-hour event will test everything you’re made of. And that’s exactly what Don Devany was looking for 10 years ago when he arrived in Pittsfield, Vermont.

“You move forward regardless of the challenge,” said Devany. “Stopping is death.”

After completing the Death Race, Devany came back every year after to help facilitate as “taskmaster”. At last year's event, he showed up on a bicycle after just biking across the United States (and back), totaling 9,145 miles.

The Death Race shaped him into the man he wanted to be.

Don Devany Talks Death Race and Life

So, what lessons for success did Devany take away from the Death Race and how can you apply those learnings to your life? Heads up, they’re all mental.

Lesson #1: Believe That You Can Overcome

People already come into challenging situations with what they believe are valid excuses. And that’s what Devany says leads to failure. Instead, look at those challenges head-on and believe that you can conquer them despite the pain.

“Olympic athletes and top performers in life have looked forward and gone all the way through [the challenge] and they know what the pain is going to be. They have simulated it in their mind and they’ve pushed through it,” said Devany.

Lesson #2: Push Your Frame of Reference

The people that are successful in the Death Race and in life do things that push their frame of reference, says Devany. Do really hard things so that when you compare your current obstacle to those tough times, your situation seems more manageable. 

For example, if you spent 72 hours on a mountain in Vermont doing crazy challenges in horrendous weather and on zero sleep, then you won’t freak out when the WiFi doesn’t work on your next flight.

“For example, the things that we take for granted, on my bike ride I became incredibly grateful for,” said Devany.

Related: What the Ancient Spartans Can Teach You About Optimism

Lesson #3 Reduce Your Options

“The successful Death Racer doesn’t have a plan B,” said Devany.

Before he left for his 9,145 mile biking trip, Devany signed all of his money over to his daughter. Why? Because he didn’t want the option of using his credit card to book a flight home or request an Uber. He reduced his options so that his only choice was to ride his bike from the East Coast to the West Coast, and back to the East Coast again.

“We’ve created this safety net,” said Devany. “But you have to want to get to the edge. And once you’re at the edge you realize there’s a whole lot of people who are out there further.”

If you apply those three principles from the “taskmaster” you will not only get through the Death Race, but you will crush life.

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