Two weeks ago I ran a Spartan Race with my wife. And not just any Spartan Race, the Pennsylvania Super in Palmerton, PA at Blue Mountain. For those of you who aren’t up on what a Spartan is and have no idea what I’m talking about then here’s a brief summary.
This race is an 8+ mile obstacle course race with 25+ obstacles that takes you up and down a 1,400-foot mountain three times across very rugged and steep terrain. It’s brutal, even for those who are in great shape.
This race was without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m in pretty good shape but I felt completely unprepared for this adventure.
It took many days for all the pains and aches to go away (especially at 46) but this race is something unique and it teaches you some lessons if you are willing to learn them. It taught me some great ones about marriage and about recovery.
You see, I came into that race the way a lot of people do when they start their recovery process. They have an “idea” about what the journey looks like, but once they get started they realize that it’s not going to be an easy endeavor and may, in fact, be the hardest thing they ever do.
I see so many men (and women) give up on their recovery prematurely. They come in with grand ideas about making a change overnight and then when they realize what’s involved they tap out. It’s a shame. But I get it.
I wanted to tap out on that race 1,000 times over.
But that day I saw and learned some things that if people understood when they pursued recovery would make ALL the difference in their journey. Here are four:
1. You don’t race alone
I did this race with my wife and that made all the difference. She needed me at times to push her forward, and I needed her at times to help me. About 4 miles into the race I started experiencing really bad knee pain which killed me on anything downhill. It was awful and there were several moments I questioned if I could even make it.
But Katie (my wife) was there every painful step of the way and supported me throughout. I can honestly say she was the difference maker for me that day.
And if you have an accountability partner they will be the difference maker for you.
2. It’s not about speed, it’s about progress
Like I said already, I jacked up my knee around mile 4 after a really hard sandbag carry. Neither of us were blazing up the course prior to the sandbags (both not being runners, or joggers for that matter) but when my knee started throbbing our pace slowed to a literal crawl.
The next 4 miles went so slow and each time we passed a mile marker I thought to myself, “Are you kidding me?”
But after hours of walking, crawling, and limping we crossed that finish line and it felt great. We did it. It just took a ton time and whole lot of determination to just keep moving forward.
Recovery is the same. It’s never about how fast or even how far, it just about the progress.
3. Groups united around a purpose make a difference
One of the coolest things about these races is that you meet people from all walks of life. People you probably wouldn’t ever hang out with but during that race we are all the same.
We all have the one mission. To beat that course.
As a result, no one gets heated with each other.
No one condemns.
No one judges.
If you fall, someone is there to pick you up.
If you need a boost, someone is there to do it.
And when you say I don’t know if I can go on, someone is there to say “You sure as **** can!”
Recovery tools like workshops and filters are fine, and even needed. But having a group around you who are united with you in your purpose to find freedom is going to make the real difference in your recovery efforts.
4. It doesn’t have to be pretty when you finish.
Spartan races usually happen in the woods, on the mountains, and through the mud. They beat you up, knock you down, and leave you with some scars (especially if you lift your head up too quickly during the barbed wire crawl).
This race took a toll on me and my wife. Our time to finish was terrible and I’d like to tell you we crushed every obstacle but the truth is we both did a lot of burpees that day (30 burpees is the penalty if you fail any obstacle).
We weren’t superstars by any stretch and when we crossed that finish line we looked like hell (we smelled like it too).
But you know what? We finished.
And that’s what mattered.
When you are going through your recovery process it’s going to be very similar.
You’re going to feel beat up.
You’re going to be tempted to compare your lack of success with others around you.
You’re going to have some colossal “failures.”
And there are going to be days when you feel like the whole process is just one long punch in the gut after another.
But if you stick with it, even through the ugly times, you’ll finish.
And when you do you’ll say I made it. Who cares how I got here.
Are you ready to start your recovery race today?
It’ll be tough but you can do it. You just need to get out on that course!