“See that mountain over there? Well. One of these days I’m gonna climb that mountain.” – Mountain Music, by Alabama
This past weekend was the 2017 New Jersey Spartan Ultra Beast. Those that DNF’d are also licking their wounds, rehashing the race, and planning their go at the Spartan Ultra Beast. People who completed it are probably still licking their wounds and gutting through recovery runs (ie walking), reading race reports, and posting photos of their belt buckles to Instagram. What do you do once that elation wears off? When the searing pain in your meniscus and mangled ankles heal, what do you do next?
This is the situation I ran into when I finished the 2016 New Jersey Spartan Ultra Beast. What had seemed like an insurmountable task just a year prior when I trudged through the 2015 New Jersey Spartan Beast, I had just accomplished. This may seem trivial to most people. I believe the majority of those that undertake this type of race face this issue. We need a goal. We need something to set our sights on, something that motivates us. We love the planning and the execution. There is a part of the suffering that allows us to frame all of life’s other problems in a completely new context.
There are 3 paths we can take after a personal accomplishment like completing a Spartan Ultra Beast: regress, stagnate, or set a new goal.
Regression occurs when we have that enormous post-race meal and then that meal continues for 4 months. It happens quickly. We justify taking it easy the day following the race and eat whatever we want. We are also in a lot of pain so we aren’t training either. Days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months. Pretty soon we don’t resemble the same person that ran an ultra marathon obstacle race and it gets significantly harder to get back out on the trail.
In stagnation we get back to training and we stick with a normal diet in a reasonable amount of time, but there is an emptiness. We spend hours pouring through the internet searching for something. We may find something but we can easily talk ourselves out of it.
You need to have a goal. It doesn’t need to be a race or a competition, but to the majority of those reading this post, that’s the type of people we are. It’s self improvement. We need something that calls to us. Without that calling, we won’t be able to get ourselves “Up” mentally. For me I was able to get myself “Up” for the Ultra Beast, but if you asked me to just go run a few miles I wouldn’t be able to because I don’t want to.
Some of you may be able to get right back into racing doing the Sprints and Supers. Some may even like running (eww) and signed up for a normal marathon. If that works for you and gets you right back into training mode then that’s excellent. Go for it. I have a feeling though that many of you are like me and only have a taste now for something new, exotic, or ludicrous. I’ll list a few ideas and what I’ve chosen.
Killington: This is probably the most obvious one. A Spartan Ultra Beast where Spartan Ultra Beast was founded. Personally I was turned off by this idea by a number of bad reviews in recent years. That coupled with it being smack in the middle of my busy season at work knocked it off my list.
Tough Mudder: Tough Mudder offers two races that fit into this category. Toughest Mudder (8 hours overnight) and World’s Toughest Mudder (24 hours).
Ultramarathon: Yes technically the Ultra Beast was itself an Ultramarathon being 50 kilometers. I’m referring to a 50 or 100 Miler.
You can also pick something completely different than racing.
Powerlifting, Olympic Lifting and Strongman: Try an event that tests your strength and power exclusively. It will challenge you in a whole new way. Besides OCR already incorporates a few strongman-lite obstacles.
Crossfit: You can compete in a Crossfit competition even if you don’t belong to a gym. See how different it is to suffer through a 10 minute AMRAP compared to a 10 hour Ultra Beast.
Crazy Facebook Challenges: We’ve all seen the posts in the Spartan groups we belong to. Why not actually look one up and do it?
Sometimes I just mention something in passing to my wife and depending on the reaction it elicits directly correlates to how excited I get for it. Last night I mentioned bullriding. Jess’ reaction was immediate and loud. I must be on the right track.
This year I didn’t run the New Jersey Spartan Ultra Beast. I didn’t think I could mentally prepare myself for it after finishing it last year. Instead I elected to try my hand at a Strongman competition and follow that up with a 50 Miler the next week. Training for two diametrically opposed events intrigued me. It got my back on track with training and diet. Hopefully it won’t take you all 6-12 months to figure out what you want to do next.
The mountain has been climbed. Time to find the next mountain.
Author: David Matthews
I started this site as a way of discussing what I’ve learned about the relationship between personal finances and physical fitness. What I have learned allowed me to lose 50lbs and improve my credit score 150 points in the same year and become a happier person.
Husband. Father. West Virginia University Grad. Licensed Insurance and Financial Professional. Sports fan (Philadelphia, WVU, and Manchester City). I’m also a huge nerd (like Magic: The Gathering huge)