Got Stress? SPARTAN UP!


Do You feel stressed during the holidays?

Alot of us do, whether its relatives coming over or getting stuck in endless traffic, or the peanut oil fire in the backyard, stress just creeps up on us.

Joe De Sana’s (Spartan Race Founder) solution to this problem is to swim in mud, split wood, throw spears, and do 30 burpees. Huh? Yeah thats what I thought when I heard that Spartan Race HQ’s tagline is “You’ll know at the finish line”. I get it now.

I did the Spartan Race myself back in 2014, without a doubt the most physically and mentally taxing thing I’ve done. Finished the course in 4 hours due to a number of injuries.

But it was fucking awesome

I don’t know how to describe it.

The sheer level of difficulty I faced that day re-wired my brain in a way that certain annoyances in life didn’t matter anymore. Humans evolved to endure hardship, our caveman ancestors fought, killed, and hustled to survive and when we don’t face those things that test us we get stressed and lazy.

A Modern Day Spartan

Joe De Sana is an accomplished endurance athlete. he’s competed in numerous Iron Man and Ultra-marathon competitions he saw fit to create the Death Race and the Spartan Race.

Joe goes into the mindset of an endurance athlete and the mental block one has to overcome to complete in various competitions. Competitions like: Iron Man, Ultra-Marathons of  100 miles (22 hours straight), and Competing in the Iditarod (dog-sledding 1000+ miles in Alaska).

These are some of the most insanely difficult things you could do. The key is to just do them. Once you get into the act of doing them thats half the battle. The next half is resetting your frame of reference.

What’s Your Frame of Reference?

The most important lesson you can take from this book is Joe’s advice about resetting your frame of reference for stress, pain, and suffering. Developing and maintaining a certain mental toughness is essential to endurance athletes and everyone else. When you do a Spartan Race and you swim through mud and climb slippery slopes with tree branches your perspective has to adjust to your enviroment. When you go back to “normal” life,  you have already adjusted to a “new normal”.

You won’t be bothered by everyday minutiae anymore because you have something far more trying to compare your stress too. This is partly why going to the gym is therapeutic for so many people, its a way of pushing out of that sense of comfort.

Only the Strong Will Survive

What stuck out to me is how insane the Death Race is. One time a few grizzled combat vet Marine Sargents, left in tears…how’s that for intimidating? 24+ hours of pure hell.

Imagine running for 10 miles and then being told you have to split wood for 4 hours. Crazy stressful stuff!



Spartan Up is a very memorable book. I listened to this on Audible about a year a half ago and I wrote this review completely from memory.

Coupled with an amazing editor and good editing, the book is a nice easy read and/or listen. Whether you are mentally tough or not, this book will show you the way of badass.

If all else fails, this book exposes you to an entirely new way of thinking. It really is the key to true mental toughness, the kind that makes “stress” piss its pants.

Buy the book here.

You’ll know at the finish line.


Marcus Spartacus Harris

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