I will be the first to admit that I didn’t have high expectations for the soon-to-be-released book, Spartan Up!, by Joe DeSena and Jeff O’Connell. I’m generally not a fan of works written by sporting world personalities. Many of those books disappoint me by not capturing what made the author or his/her story interesting in the first place. It didn’t take but a few pages of reading a pre-release copy, however, for me to realize that this book is pure Joe DeSena. If you have interacted with Joe or have heard stories about him, then you now have that mental image. Much like Spartan Race itself, there is nothing fancy about the book. The writing is not glorified. It is laid out in a simple, but gritty fashion, with no sugar coating or candy sprinkles. DeSena and O’Connell magnify my own thoughts of the past few months … that too many people in this country have become too soft, too lazy, too sensitive, and unwilling to take personal responsibility for circumstances in their lives. Once or twice, I almost blurted out “Amen”.
Some might describe this as a self-help book. I would describe it more as a “kick-in-the-pants” book, as it has the potential to jolt you from any belief that you have achieved your full potential in life. It leaves you feeling like you can and should do more with your life. Screw your circumstances! Spartan up and overcome them. Using DeSena’s words out of context, reading this book will help you see the need to “recalibrate your frame of reference” for life.
“No matter what dreams a person has, athletic or not, they will encounter obstacles along the way.”
Using the ever popular, yet so compellingly accurate “obstacle racing as life” metaphor, DeSena weaves story after story after story of personal struggles into portraits of triumph and achievement. This is not bed-timing reading, unless you really like not falling asleep because your mind churns over desires for personal triumph. Spartan Up! is not just a book for obstacle racers. It is a book for anyone who is lolly-gagging through life, mired in dark personal struggles, or who is on the verge of greatness in their lives and just need that extra push. In fact I’m considering purchasing some copies as gifts to some of my students who I believe to be strivers and overcomers.
I don’t want to give away the details of the book, but I will leave you with this.
“Spartan Up! is based on a series of concepts, but three of them trump everything: Question your Assumptions, Less is More, Discipline is Everything. In the races, we offer you no map. What you think is the finish line may just be the beginning. So you need to develop what those of us in the Spartan world call obstacle immunity, a skill you will learn to master in this book…. Business deals will be less stressful. Screaming kids will put a smile on your face. This goes a long way toward explaining why elite groups now come to Vermont to train with us, and why many people map their year around these races…Spartan Up! Will comprise 10 chapters, designed to teach you to systematically apply the Spartan way to every aspect of your life: food/diet, working out, health, business or work, education, relationships, parenting”.