Turn Your Biggest Fitness Dream Into a Reality with this Ancient Advice

Runner Dean Karnazes checks the Fitbit app

When faced with an enemy, Spartans never asked how many there were—only where they were. Revered for their athletic prowess and military might, Spartans were fearless on the battlefield and in the arena. They took on bold challenges and maintained high standards of excellence. They set goals and made firm commitments to attain them through hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. Why do I bring this up now? Because the lessons learned from these ancient warriors are applicable to many aspects of modern life.


With the New Year upon us, now is a good time to reassess your life goals and make resolutions that help you move toward them. Tackling a new physical challenge can be an excellent way to expand your thinking and learn new skills, as well as gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your strengths, as well as your weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and perceived limitations. What you learn might surprise you and will certainly enrich your life (even if you have trouble walking for a day or two afterward).

So for the New Year I challenge you take on one Spartan Goal—i.e., a big, daunting, seemingly impossible endeavor—like running a marathon or completing an Ironman. My belief is that setting one lofty goal for the New Year is better than maintaining a series of smaller goals. Having one large goal will force you to train progressively in preparation, improving your overall health and fitness along the way. It will also give you a greater sense of achievement when you hit your mark.


How do you go about engaging in a Spartan Goal? Simple: Sign up. Chose an event in a location and setting that appeals to you—one that is a greater challenge than anything you’ve previously accomplished in your life—and register. Put it on your calendar and start preparing. Then let your friends and family know. (Try the Exercise Sharing tool in the Fitbit app to tell others about your workouts and activities.) Sharing your intentions and progress with others adds an additional level of accountability. Lastly, if you’re able to, take part in the event as part of a charity that supports a cause you feel strongly about. This gives what you’re doing deeper significance and can further stoke your motivation to train. From here, the only thing left to do is embrace your inner Spartan—by focusing on hard work, dedication, and sacrifice—and train.

When the big day comes it might hurt like hell. It might leave you exhausted and sore. But it will also leave you with something that lasts much longer: a sense of fulfillment greater than any you’ve ever felt before.

Here’s to 2017. Make it your biggest and best yet.

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