In his book ‘Spartan Up’, Joe De Sena, the creator of the Spartan Races, discusses his intentional use of obstacles in his races. The goal it not only to create physical obstacles but to also make the obstacles mentally challenging. Therefore when coming to an obstacle during the race the runner is challenged on manifold levels. From mud pits, to walls, to fire, and to barbed wire, the runner must deal with the physical and mental stress that is necessary to overcome the obstacle in their path. If you ‘fail’ to achieve success on the obstacle, you are then penalized with a thirty burpee penalty before you can move back into the race. Joe’s goal is to take a person from a sedentary couch potato lifestyle and put them into situations that resemble real life, because real life is not smooth and easy, but real life is full of many obstacles. His overall goal is to help the runner gain what he calls ‘obstacle immunity’.
Obstacle immunity is achieving the ability to overcome every obstacle in your life and the only way to do this is to not run from your problems but to confront your problems. So the Spartan Races are created to be a microcosmic picture of real life. If you are reading this blog right now, you surely know then that life is full of pitfalls. You can be at ease and enjoying life, then WHAM, out of nowhere life throws a curveball at you. For many people whose minds are not trained to deal with such unexpected roadblocks, these kind of things can be quite debilitating. But to those who are exercised and ready, such unannounced life whammy’s are looked at as a challenge rather than a setback. Instead of losing one’s bearings, the person who is ready, meets the obstacle head on and without fear. Then they either overcome the obstacle, or they learn more about themselves, which then prepares them for the future obstacles they know will lie ahead of them.
Gaining obstacle immunity is about confronting problems in our lives. With every obstacle we confront, we gain insight of who we are and what truly lies within us. We confront the fear and the imaginations which have kept us bound. When we begin to confront the obstacles in our lives, we slowly begin to lose our fear and when we begin to lose our fear of the obstacles, we begin to gain immunity over those obstacles. In a nutshell, instead of the obstacles being something to fear, they become a challenge to overcome. We know with every obstacle there is something to learn, and once the lesson is learned, we know true growth, both mental and physical, has taken place. The things that once caused us to lose our spirit or digress in fear, no longer have their grip upon us because we have grown.
The 365 day challenge is full of such obstacles. After these first thirty-six days, we have no doubt been confronting many of these obstacles. From large to small, from mental to physical, the 365 day challenge has pitted us against a myriad of obstacles. Let’s not get overwhelmed with the BIG PICTURE, but let’s remember with every obstacle we dare to confront, whether it be large or small, there comes much growth. So don’t try to avoid and go around the eight foot wall your mind has created. CONFRONT that wall, and CLIMB OVER IT. You may be surprised how much easier the next obstacle will become to confront and conquer.