I was asked to preview Spartan Up! by Joe DeSena and I'm looking forward to reading the whole book. I received a 20-page preview of what to expect in the book, that will be released on May 13. It wasn't immediately clear if it was a book about sports, or about improvement in one's life. In either case, I'll read the full version, but I couldn't tell from the preview if it was an anthology of stories about people who have done Spartan races, or self-help advice.
DeSena makes the bold claim that "To reach full potential, you need to UNLEARN every important thing modern society has taught you." For instance, giving up instant gratification in favor of delayed fuller gratification. He further advises that "the Spartan way" spells trouble for your comfort zones, and that readers should embrace three concepts: question your assumptions, less is more, and discipline is everything.
I'm particularly interested in chapter 2 - Confronting the greatest obstacle - your will. I'm learning this winter that I actually can run faster than I ever did before, if I'm willing to embrace the hurt and do the hard work. I'm interested in what he says about this.
Another interesting chapter looks like chapter 8 - Making your limits vanish. DeSena writes: "Distance events force you to focus your mind. In contrast, our society likes to stay distracted, always chasing the next shiny object...We are slaves to our anxious, darting minds and the constant stream of useless mental chitchat...it's just neurological white noise driving you to distraction from what really matters." He then claims: "I'll teach you how to silence yourself so that you can figure out what's going on inside your head. As we recapture control of our mind, we become able to focus for longer periods of time. Once we have removed negative distractions..." Why do I worry he's going to advise exercise without music???
Chapter 10 looks really good too. DeSena says: "The last obstacle you must surmount is the array of preconceived notions jammed in your psyche [ie I'm a "slow" runner]. All too often we spend our waking hours trying to find and stay comfortable [yes!]...We believe that there are things we can do and things that we can't, and we become conditioned to that distinction. It creates our everyday reality and it makes us feel secure, because we think we know what to expect of the world and what to expect of ourselves." I'm particularly interested in reading this chapter and applying it to my running.
Overall I'm looking forward to reading the full book. I like stories of people who engage in incredible activities, like Dean Karnazes's "Ultra Marathon Man," so I hope the personal stories make up a large portion of the book.
You can pre-order Spartan Up! here.
Disclosure: I was offered a first edition copy of the book in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a particular opinion other than an honest one.