By: Chris Cow
You’ve run the race, faced your fears, and conquered the course and crossed the finish line; now, you want to share this experience with your friends, your family, or your co-workers. While some may be convinced, most often, you’re met with excuses.
Excuses come from many different places. Sometimes they’re a polite way of saying “I really don’t want to.” While that might mean they don’t know what they’re missing, you have to respect that choice. Other times, excuses reflect people’s own insecurities and belief that they can’t face and overcome the challenge you’ve given them. To assist you, I’m going to outline the top 10 excuses given by someone you invite to experience a Spartan Race, and how to invalidate those excuses, in no particular order.
10. I don’t have anyone to race with.
Really? Because I’m right here offering. If you invite someone to the race, make sure that you’re willing and able to stay with them throughout; you’re the veteran who knows the ropes, and you should share your “secrets” to success.
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 Weeple Army, Cornfed Spartans, Northeast Spahtens, COR, GORMR, Lonestar Spartans, and others provide a supportive group of like-minded athletes of all paces.
9. 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.
8. I’m not in good enough shape for that.
Closely related to number 9, this is a lament I’ve heard many times. However, there are many people who could easily by called “out of shape” who have taken on the challenge. They then used these races (and the training associated with them) to put themselves on a path to better health. An obvious example is Chris Davis, who took on his first Spartan Race when he weighed in at 696 pounds. He has set a new goal, 265 pounds, and is well on his way. Less extreme examples abound. A quick glance at Transformation Tuesday posts shows the positive power of getting involved with something fun, and letting it take over.
7. I don’t want to be made fun of.
This insecurity often goes hand in hand with the “out of shape” nonsense above. In my experience, Spartans are some of the most supportive people out there. The people 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.
6. Isn’t that dangerous? Or “I know someone who did one and twisted/bruised/broke something.”
With any activity comes risk. However, people get injured in any sport or exercise routine, and indeed many injuries arise from common household chores or activities. The rates of serious injury at Spartan races are negligible, and they are about the same as other less “scary” sounding activities, such as running a half marathon.
5. Mud runs are for ____________ (losers, weekend warriors, homemakers, etc). I’m a real athlete.
As Spartan Race has grown and more professional athletes from other sports have given it a try — often getting crushed by the Spartan Elite racers — this excuse is starting to lose popularity, but you may still hear it. It comes from competitive athletes in other sports, especially runners (who for some reason disdain obstacle races). If you hear it, challenge them to put their money where their mouth is and run elite. If you want, bring up a few of the accomplishments of some of Spartan’s best: people like Ryan Atkins, Cody Moat, Rose Wetzel-Sinnet, Amelia Boone and others whose athletic credentials extend far beyond Reebok Spartan Races.
4. It’s too expensive.
One of the amazing things about Spartan Race is how they value their volunteers. A volunteer shift for a free race is a sweet deal, and makes it an inexpensive hobby/sport for those willing to put in the time. There are also Groupon or Livingsocial deals that reduce the costs dramatically as well, and other discount codes (such as on Spartan.com) pop up from time to time to lessen the financial strain.
3. 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 into the social groups listed above. The Weeple Army, for instance, often has a few people sitting out of the race who are willing to babysit. They usually post about it on Facebook beforehand.
2. I’m too old.
More and more these days, people are proving that age is just a number. Lynne Marie Tharp-Lowe (nearly 57) started her OCR journey about three years ago and lost over 100 pounds as part of her transformation. James Patrick O’Brien (aka Mr. Muddy Suitman, age 61) and Stephen John Hulsey (age 73) are both earning double trifectas this year and have done hundreds of races. Linda Barber (age 76) 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.
1. I’ve got 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 to me are those that refuse to succumb to this type of thinking. Adaptive athletes such as Amanda Sullivan (spinal injury), Todd Love, Earl Granville, and Amy Palmiero Winters (veteran amputees), Misty Diaz and Matt Pevoto (spina bifida), James Magana (blind), members of Operation Enduring Warrior and many others redefine perseverance and will, and really do invalidate others’ excuses. If they can complete these courses, so can you.
So that’s a quick primer on some of the most often heard excuses when you invite someone to come do a Spartan Race. Will the rebuttals help get people signed up for the next race? It depends on what lies beneath the excuses. Are they stemming from insecurities that want reassurance, or are they covering for a desire to stay in their comfort zone and NOT do it? By invalidating the excuse itself, you can often uncover the reason for that initial refusal. I have used these techniques to successfully convince a few hardy souls to come try the race, but as with anything in life, your mileage may vary.
Chris Cow is a 45 year old husband, father, Spartan, and a proud member of the Weeple Army and Team SISU. He is happiest when challenged.