Why you should join a team for your next Spartan Race


Last weekend, I ran the Spartan Sprint in Amesbury, MA. It was my third Spartan and the first time I *truly* ran with a team. For the first two races I ran with a team but we weren’t a team besides the matching shirts and carpooling to the race. Everyone had their own goals and once we passed the start line, racers scattered and we met up afterwards for a post-race beer and to laugh about our experience and compare bruises.

Each time was a blast, I’m not knocking my earlier teams at all, but running as a team last weekend was an experience that I wouldn’t trade for the fastest time in the world. Last weekend’s Amesbury Sprint was the most challenging and rewarding race yet.

I’m not going to pretend that a tiny part of me wondered if I could have beaten last year’s time. I was much better prepared this year, physically and mentally, but Spartan outdid themselves with making the race more than a mile and a half longer this year and throwing some new obstacles at us. I wouldn’t have been able to beat last year’s time unless I had a jetpack attached to my back anyways so it always works out the way it was meant to be.

Lucky for me, I was with five other people who were dedicated to experiencing the race with more than themselves in mind. Our team of six was going to leave no one behind and beat this course together.

The fitness levels in our group varied from a special forces guy, yoga instructor, CrossFit box owner all the way to the moms like my friend Vicky and myself. Each of us had our strengths and areas where we needed a boost from our teammates. One team member could have easily flown past us at the starting gate and placed in the top 10%, but he stuck with all of us and was invaluable to the team.

One of us was carried down the rock bucket hill while most of us needed help to get over the 10′ walls. Tips and pointers were shared to get over certain obstacles, hands were held and encouraging words were generously offered throughout the two and a half hours it took all six of us to cross the finish line, together. As a team.

I’ve always been a fan of Spartan Races since finishing my first race a year ago, but I’m truly a fan now after running as part of a team where no one is left behind.

Running a Spartan is a lot like life: you can do it by yourself if you have to but it’s SO much better with others.

So surround yourself with good people to run as a team and you’ll find Spartan Races even more rewarding. I can’t wait to do it all over again in September at the BEAST, good luck and AROO!

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10 Lessons Learned from 1 Year of CrossFit

  • You have no idea how really out of shape you are until you start CrossFit. I remember doing 90 burpees on my first day and thinking I was going to never make it off the floor by the end. You know what? I did and kept coming back for more.
  • You’ll have sore muscles where you didn’t know you even had muscles every day for the first 2 months and then you either don’t realize you’re sore anymore or it goes away. I’m still not sure which is true.
  • Your goals will change. I started at No Risk CrossFit with the very specific goal of training for a Spartan Sprint and learning how to climb a rope. I quickly realized that it wasn’t something I wanted to quit after finishing my first Spartan Race. I kept adding and achieving goals: climb the rope, handstands, handstand pushups, pull ups, toes to bar, ring dips, and I don’t think the list will ever stop (thankfully).
  • If you’re a girl, you’re not going to get “bulky” by CrossFitting. During my first week, I told my coach that I was nervous about getting bulky and he told me that it takes a lot of work to look like a female bodybuilder, that kind of body doesn’t happen by accident. Looking back, it’s a little embarrassing that I thought my body could transform into a hulk by simply going to CrossFit. I have more muscles now than a year ago and weigh 10 pounds more than I started, but I have way less body fat and my clothes fit a million times better. My scale has stayed in the closet for the past year– no more obsession with pounds (except for how many I can overhead squat). Strong is beautiful.
  • You’ll meet some great people. I work out with other moms, grandmas, students, firefighters, cops, business people- you name it. People I wouldn’t normally meet in my life as a mom but I am SO glad I have met these people I am proud to call my friends.
  • You’ll become part of an amazing community. Not only at your own “box” (CrossFit terminology for gym), but nationwide. If you’re ever traveling and want to drop in at another box, chances are the folks there will welcome you with open arms. Try that at a Planet Fitness and I doubt you’d get the same results. Ever heard of Kevin Ogar? He’s a CrossFit athlete who had a tragic accident at a competition in January. Seeing CrossFit athletes across the world join forces to support him was truly heart-warming.
  • If you’re a parent, you’re setting a good example for your kids. Seeing my kids care about their fitness and health is one of the greatest gifts I can give them as a parent. I love that my kids will do burpees for time and tell me they look forward to “working out.” My husband and I even hire babysitters so we can occasionally go to a WOD together.
  • You will likely develop an obsession with workout clothes, in my case it’s Reebok CrossFit gear and shoes. Some like Lululemon and Athleta, but Reebok fits me best. I’ve actually had to cut myself off from buying any more workout clothes because I can’t fit them in my closet anymore.

I always keep things real, so there are some things that I’ve learned that aren’t all puppies and rainbows but I’ll share anyway.

  • Some friends and family members will think you’re part of a cult and constantly share articles about how dangerous CrossFit is for you. I don’t engage in arguments with them because it’s not worth it, but I know that it is far more dangerous for *me* to sit on my butt eating crap than it is to lift heavy weights in a safe, supervised environment. Who cares if I’m addicted to it? It’s a healthy one and I’m never going to apologize for my enthusiasm.
  • You may lose touch with people in your life. This is a tough one, but it’s a life lesson. Misery loves company and there are some people who would rather complain about needing to lose weight than do anything about it. I used to be a complainer too. “I need to lose 10 pounds” or “I really need to get to the gym.” I was never doing anything about it though until I started CrossFit. When I started going, I found myself fitting into clothes from 10 years ago, and was stronger and happier. I don’t need to complain anymore and have  found myself distanced from the negativity. Friendships come and go, not everyone is happy for you when you transform. That’s life! On the bright side, I’ve had friendships grow even stronger because of CrossFit. My best friend Heather joined and one of the best parts of my day is working out together while our kids play in the “pen.”

A year later and 148 finished WODs later, I’m grateful for this life-changer called CrossFit. If you are thinking about starting any fitness routine: DO IT, today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Your turn: are there any lessons you would like to add?