The Spartan Trifecta — Consists of finishing the Spartan Sprint (7km, 23 obstacles), Spartan Super (14km, 28 obstacles) and Spartan Beast (21km, 33 obstacles) in one calendar year. According to Spartan, the intention for the Trifecta is to build “a commitment holds us accountable to train, eat and think like a Spartan.” Having completed the Spartan Trifecta this year, I guess we wanted to do a post about what this journey meant to us.
The Spartan Trifecta has been a year long journey which I would have never imagined completing. It has been an immense journey of discipline, camaraderie and a whole lot of self discovery. I am truly appreciative of having the Spartan Team from Extremer as my social commitment towards this journey, and only with their team spirit and discipline to train, did I manage to convince and prepare myself for these races.
I think I actually enjoyed the obstacles of the race the most. As this portion was where my actual physique of being average height, lean and nimble, my body was at an advantage in getting past these obstacles. I also had a lot of fun in overcoming the diverse ways these races express their creativity in challenging us; with weights that are enhanced by gravity, unique shapes that are tough to be carried, and landscapes that set you back. And in the midst of scaling these walls, and lifting these weights, I found that I was beginning to rediscovered this intimate trust in my body. In taking the leap and trusting that I can carry myself over these barriers. Failure in these obstacles was just another invitation to be creative and try another way over it.
The real killer in this journey were the distances of these races which challenged me both physically and mentally. I am the type that would love to push as hard as possible, to get things done as fast as possible; and I am really too impatient for prolonged challenges over long periods of time. It also wasn’t exactly the distance on race day that was the problem, but it is really about the hours of training before hand that took the the most discipline of all.
Trail running was also a challenge to get used to. With your footing and attention being ever more important in where you step, one slip up could spell disaster. But these trails also exposed me to the most serene and beautiful places in nature. These Spartan races in Malaysia brought us to a wide diversity of terrains, from rocky and narrow hills and valleys, to muddy trails around swamps and lakes, and into water bodies of flowing rivers and ponds. Through running in these forms of nature, it humbled me to the scale of nature and the adversity we face in all its untamed wonder.
I guess for all these euphoric feelings of achievement during race day, it really is also about celebrating the unspoken hours of training before hand. Everyday was a struggle to find the discipline to pull myself out of this lazy everyday stupor, to put on the running shoes and get out of my comfort zone. And every distance covered or weight lifted, comes with a million conversations with myself, negotiating with myself to push my training further. And with this tiny exposure of training, it gives me a better appreciation of the commitment and discipline practiced by the best athletes in the world, who commit their lives to pushing themselves ever harder.
For me the biggest take away from this experience was in embracing my drive to compete, and to push my mind and my body. It was one of the rare moments in this modern day lifestyle that I am in tuned with my body, going head to head with other participants at the starting line and getting past them through the day. The sense of embracing competition to thrive was I guess what came natural to me, to always be vying to over take the next person and to come in faster than before. I think owning up to this innate nature, and using it to motivate me did push me harder and give this journey my all.
I do truly appreciate this experience having gone down this Spartan path with a bunch of crazy others. With the comforts of our modern lives taken for granted, it is a very surreal feeling to be in suffering in the wilderness together; being in tune with ourselves and really exploring the limits of my physical and mental space.
The completion of Spartan Race Trifecta with improvement in terms of timing, endurance and physical strength is definitely my proudest achievement in 2018. Running was my greatest enemy, and it still is. I still don’t really know why did I sign up the first place, haha. I blame it to peer pressure.
What did I learn from this journey that I could apply to life in general?
For a shortie like myself, team mates are crucial in clearing the obstacles. Friends are there to motivate you when you’re about to give up. Friends are there to push you up the 8 feet wall. Friends are there to pull you up when you’re climbing up a muddy and slippery slope. Friends in battlefield will help you get far.
#2 A whole lot of determination and perseverance.
I remember my first training was to run 400m (10 intermittent rounds) and I failed to finish it. I was catching my breath after one round. Looking back, my base line was very low. After 9 months of weekly training, I could now run a minimum of 5 km without rest and my short distance timing has gotten better. To me, it was a vast improvement. The training was not easy. From lifting heavy weights for upper body strength training, to doing deadlifts 1.5 times of my body weight. I went for acupuncture monthly for treatment due to exaggeration. However, my perseverance has brought me to who I am now. I have come so far from where I first started. This sense of achievement is precious.
#3 There are times when you need to go easy on yourself.
I had my first cramp at 16 km mark while doing zig-zag wall obstacle. After a short rest, I thought I was fine so I attempted the next obstacle. Cramp, again. When I recovered, I went for the obstacle again. Cramp, third time. I have no choice but to give up on most of the obstacles after that and walked slowly towards the finishing line. It was pretty frustrating (and embarrassing) for not doing the obstacles. As much as I wanted to, my body could not take it anymore. Thus, I have to endure the shame because I know it is the right thing to do at that point of time — listen to your body. For health is the most important aspect in one’s life.
#4 Challenge your limit.
In my first Spartan Sprint race, we sticked together as a team to the finishing line. It was an unknown journey to us, so we were all scared. In our second Spartan Super race, we were divided into two teams where the first team can challenge their limit to hit the best timing, while the second team did our best to finish the race without worrying the duration. However, I felt I could achieve a better results as I still had loads of energy and stamina after the race — showed that I did not work hard enough. When it came to the third Spartan Beast race, I felt the need to verify my improvement from my training by challenging my limit. I chose to run ahead of my team mates and attempted to score my best timing. It was a long journey to walk alone. But I was happy and proud of myself. I was proud that I pushed myself. I was proud I was running most of the time. I was proud I did not give up though I have to overcome some challenges alone. I was proud I did it. I never know I could do all these if I had never tried.
#5 Always be well-prepared.
This is very relevant to Spartan Beast race. A lot of people may think carrying fuel on a long distance race is troublesome, thus they went light. It is fine if you can finish the race fast. For me, I was extremely hungry at 11 km mark. While I was eating my energy bar, I overheard other racers regretting on not bringing fuel with them. It was certainly helpful in regaining the energy to complete the race. Thus, it is wise to consult others who have done the race before and listen to their advice and tips. Never over-estimate yourself. Be prepared for it will come in handy in emergencies.
Originally published at qpskpii.wordpress.com on December 15, 2018.