Getting inside the Spartan game

spartan up book 2Thousands of athletes are already doing thousands of burpees in preparation for this season’s Spartan Races. They’re getting their physical game ready, but the insider training on the mental game is coming to bookstores on May 17.

Spartan Up! You’ll Know at the Finish Line is Spartan founder Joe DeSena’s new book on all things Spartan.

“The book explains how people can change the level of grit they have, no matter where on the spectrum they are today,” DeSena tells SPIN. “It’s a very simple philosophy centered around changing your frame of reference, and delaying gratification. If people want to make that change the book explains how.”

Spartan statistics are impressive. Since launching the first Spartan race in 2005, 300,000 people now follow Spartan’s daily workouts on, the online Spartan book has been downloaded over a half million times, and this year alone 61 races will be held in seven countries. Obstacle racing is second only to mixed martial arts for the world’s fastest growing sport – and it’s one that generated $250 million in revenue in 2012.

What’s the draw? Why are people from all spectrums of life turning their attention, lungs and limbs to Spartan? The races are a challenge for the body, and for the mind, explains DeSena – when people succeed where they thought they could not, positive attitudes are cultivated and strengthened.

DeSena uses Spartan Up! to delve deeper into the philosophy that built this obstacle empire; philosophy that blends “hardcore modern science and obscure philosophical teachings.”

To reach full potential, you need to unlearn every important thing modern society has taught you.

Success is a byproduct of delayed gratification.

The principles that underpin obstacle racing can cure much of what ails America the most.

Spartan Up! speaks to a number of different tenets, but three of them, DeSena explains, trump everything: question your assumptions, less is more, discipline is everything. Through the 10 chapters of the book, DeSena guides readers to apply the “Spartan way” to each aspect of life: food and diet, working out, business or work, education, relationships, parenting.

Not simply a manual of obstacles or tales from the trail, each chapter of the book describes an obstacle that “symbolizes the greater life challenges. . . . The rationale behind creating each obstacle will shed light on the lessons to be learned from it,” followed by guidance on how to apply those lessons to the reader’s own life. Additionally, each chapter presents examples from DeSena’s own crazy racing history (he once completed a 135 mile ultra-marathon, 140.6 mile Ironman and 100 mile trail run within the space of a week), and the stories of people first/racers second who’ve challenged themselves and succeeded in their own ways in Spartan races.

“The book is about how to live your life, how to reach your goals, and how to just get more out of everything you do,” explains DeSena. “The race is a way to test whether or not you are living that life!”
Spartan races are coming back to Sun Peaks for a second year with a Beast on Saturday, September 27 and a Sprint on Sunday, September 28. Registration is open on the Spartan website, closing
September 25.

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