What are the challenges in your life that scare you?
What is that ‘thing’ that feels impossible to take on?
More importantly, what is that ‘thing’ in your life, that if conquered,’ would elevate your game and sense of self?
What is your Beast?
We all tell ourselves stories about what we can’t do. We aren’t smart enough, strong enough, experienced enough, in good enough shape, disciplined enough… we aren’t… enough.
Today I challenge you to confront and Battle Your Beast.
Perhaps it’s your diet, exercise plan, a competition, work challenge, personal relationship or self-confidence issue.
Whatever it is, stand up to that challenge and battle!
Each of us will attack and conquer a number of Beasts (or significant challenges) in our lives.
As we look back through the lens of our growth and development, those early challenges won’t look so big anymore. However it is from those that we are the person we’ve become today.
This post is around the latest Beast I took on that challenged my mind, body and spirit – the Spartan Beast – a 12-15 mile, 30+ obstacle race.
One of my personal goals for 2018 was to complete a Spartan Trifecta, and based on the schedule of races in the vicinity to where I live, the longest and hardest of the races ended up being my first of the year.
Prior to training for this race, the most I had ever run at one time was 5 miles, and that was back in high school.
I wanted to set out to push my physical and mental game to its next level.
It’s funny… thinking back on my training plan, one quote comes to mind…
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson
Training started out well, and then all of a sudden, during the last 1/2 mile of one of my short runs, I felt a sharp pain in my knee.
After some research I landed on that pain being a result of a strained IT band. The best remedy: rest… aka not training.
I decided to take the semi-smart route and rested as much as I could while sneaking in runs here and there to test my knee and maintain some level of conditioning.
To add to the challenge, about 2 months before the race I came down with the flu and was laid up for another couple of weeks.
Before I knew it, race day arrived… it was a mix of excitement and fear.
Did I train enough? Would my knee hold up? What happens if I can’t finish?
Pushing all the nerves and questions aside, I geared up, made my way to the starting line, and started putting one foot in front of the other…
13.7 miles, 30+ obstacles and 5 hours and 15 minutes later I emerged victorious!
5+ hours of one on one time with yourself is a powerful time, and if you are open to listening, you can learn some great nuggets along the way.
This week’s post highlights what I learned during this fun yet challenging ordeal that I can now incorporate into everyday life. And I would like to share those lessons with all of you as well!
Let’s dissect what I learned from the Beast.
My Lessons from the Beast
Always be moving forward
This course did not waste any time before making things difficult. Within the first 100 yards, we started on our first uphill ascent (the course was on a ski mountain). It was painful. And (thankfully) one message continued to echo through my mind… keep moving forward.
There will be times during our life when we are struggling. Times when life is painful and we can’t see a way out of our current challenge.
No matter what, keep putting one foot ahead of the other and move forward. It may take time, but if we refuse to quit and keep making positive forward progress, we will emerge on top and better than when we started.
The hardest parts aren’t always at the end
Getting back to starting the race on an uphill climb, doubts started rushing into my head.
If it is this hard from the start, how am I going to be able to finish? I really thought the course designers would ease into the course a bit… wow I was wrong!
What I came away with, was that the new challenges we take on in our life won’t always let us ease into them – we don’t get to slowly ramp up the discomfort level. And honestly, I think we are better for it.
That discomfort and difficulty immediately tests us to see if we are fully committed and gives us the opportunity to challenge our mental, physical and spiritual resolve as we embark on our new challenge. If it was easy, anyone would do it!
Keep yourself fueled (mind, body, spirit)
When you are taking on a new challenge – your personal Beast – don’t let yourself run on fumes.
Apart from not training as much as I wanted, my other weakness going into this run was not knowing how to properly fuel up for the race. Sure, I had my water pack, gels and some energy bars, however those didn’t stop my legs from cramping – constantly.
Going into something unprepared is a recipe for disaster. Whether it is proper nutrition, hydration, meditation, prayer time, and/or positive mantras and self-talk, take the time to fuel yourself up and then go get after it!
Be prepared for the ups and down
No matter how prepared we are, there will always be ups and downs when we take on something significant, meaningful and new.
The ski mountain course was a great teacher (and analogy) on this one…
As I’ve eluded to already, there were plenty of uphill climbs. Along with each of those was that sense of satisfaction when you reach the top and begin the trip back down hill.
Of course part of the fun and challenge were the 2-3 obstacles that typically followed each of those down hill descents.
Anything worthwhile that we take on will have its ups and downs. This is part of the journey and most importantly, this is where we grow. Embrace the ups and downs and learn from the experience.
Lean on others when in need
When we take on big challenges in life, we should always remind ourselves that we aren’t alone. Whether it is family, friends, your team, coach, trainer, etc., realize that they are there to support you and be willing to accept their help when they offer.
While I was running the race on my own, I was reminded of the support system all around me – my fellow racers. We weren’t out there running for prizes. Rather, we were all there with generally the same goal – get outside, push our limits and have fun!
During one of my many leg cramps I stopped quick to try and stretch. A runner who was passing by offered up one of her salt capsules to help alleviate the cramping. For a split second I was going to decline – in my head I wanted to tough it out. Then I realized, why not accept the kindness of a stranger?
Don’t go it alone – augment your strength with the strength and support of others around you. And then make the point to do the same and pay it forward!
If something is working, don’t change it
Ugh, this was probably the most painful lesson that lasted for 2 weeks following the race.
Midway through my training I invested in a new pair of running shoes – a pair better suited for obstacle course racing. This would have been fine had I been able to break them in. However I was only able to get in 2-3 runs before race day… and I paid for it… with blisters!!
Sometimes when things are working for us (like a properly broken in pair of shoes) we think we need to make a change for change’s sake. I challenge us to not look a gift horse in the mouth.
If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
We will have plenty of opportunities to tweak and fix things that are really broken on our journey!
We are always playing hurt
As I watched the NFL, College Football and NCAA Basketball postseason, I keep hearing a similar theme – by the end of the season, especially in the postseason, no one is really healthy.
As we prepare and train for our biggest challenges in life, there is a good chance we won’t be coming into game day at full strength. We will be dinged up, and sore in one way or another.
Don’t let that create self-doubt that holds you back and prevents you from getting the job done. Rather, dig deep into your mental and spiritual game to fill those gaps and step on that field know your are ready to compete.
Whatever it is that you choose to embark on in life, make sure you have fun along the way! Not just when you succeed – have fun along the way too!
Sure, I was hell bent on getting to that finish line. And that didn’t stop me from having a blast scaling walls, trudging through mud, and swinging on monkey bars.
Life is meant to be enjoyed – even during the challenging times. Don’t forget!
There is always another level
Last year when I wrote about my experience with the Spartan Sprint, I ended with the same lesson. There is always another level.
I was reminded of that yet again during the Spartan Beast. This time it wasn’t about how much faster someone finished the Beast than I was able to… rather it was something very different… and it went by the name Ultra Beast. In simplest terms, the Ultra Beast entails running what I ran twice plus 3 miles and a couple more obstacles.
WHAT!?!?! Who would want to do that?! (Not me)
As I mentioned above, after each Beast that we conquer, we will emerge a better version of ourselves that is ready to take on bigger and better challenges. In time, running a Spartan Beast, while still fun, may no longer be a challenge. So we keep growing and looking for new challenges to elevate our game and open new doors to what is possible and what we are capable of.
Put Your Fear Aside and Confront Your Beast
In closing, I hope this post imparts a nugget or two that can help you with your next challenge.
Life becomes more exciting when we challenge ourselves to do great things. Let’s continue to challenge our comfort zone and live on the fringe of our growth edge.
Let’s continue to grow one challenge and one Beast at a time!
Discussion Question: What is one challenge that you’ve been contemplating taking on? What is one step you can take this week to start taking it on?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."