This article was originally published on the Spartan Race website.
Feeling stressed or anxious is the absolute worst. And it’s not uncommon. Most people suffer from chronically-elevated stress levels for a large part of their lives, and 29% of Americans will suffer from a clinical anxiety disorder in their lives. But with the right tools you can learn how to overcome stress.
Happy New Year, ya’ll! The end of the year (and the end of the decade) are upon us. Which means it’s time to evaluate what went well and, most importantly, what we can do better in the new year to get in the right groove for the next decade. The quickest way to see effective change in your life? Set goals.
For a few fitness challenge ideas to kick your 2020 like a champ, we asked Spartan founder Joe De Sena, and SGX coach and host of the podcast OCR Underground Mike Deibler, for their favorites. (Okay, okay, some of these are intended to foster a better lifestyle, and while they’re not all about crushing 1,000,000 burpees, tweaking your habits in these simple, but effective ways, will inspire BIG changes — from snacking to digital detox to pull-ups — in 2020. Guaranteed.) Here are nine things De Sena and Deibler say Spartans should add to their fitness-must list for the next year.
Sure, you can set any fitness goal you want for the year, but De Sena says you should start with 10 pull-ups and a 7-minute mile. Every person, he says, needs to be able to lift their own body weight. And if you can run a 7-minute mile without collapsing, then you can run more miles at an easier pace. (DeSena also says you should do 100 crunches every morning immediately upon waking up. Just FYI.)
“It builds resilience,” says De Sena. Plus, being able to tolerate that level of cold will get you ready for some of the big Spartan races, like the World Championships in Tahoe. It also normalizes blood sugar levels, argues De Sena, and heightens your mind-body connection. Plus, “it wakes you the f*** up,” he says.
A VO2 max test is a basic fitness test that measures how efficient your body is at delivering oxygen to your muscles. The reason Deibler recommends it, though, is because your VO2 max is an important indicator for training and for establishing training plans. A proper lab test involves running to exhaustion on a treadmill, but you can also put together your own version of the test using online calculators or algorithms.
Deibler also says you should get a functional movement assessment done by a certified professional. It’s rare for us make it through a whole year without any injuries, so why not start out knowing where you might need some help and what your baseline is. Plus, De Sena says you need to do hot yoga once weekly, so add that to the list too.
De Sena also advocates for limiting your eating — no snacking at night and no snacking on planes, especially because your options in the air can be limited. And he eats an 85% plant-based diet, because it puts the least stress on the body. “You will operate more efficiently,” he says.
Though it’s not a physical training recommendation, De Sena argues for taking some time away from all devices — computers, smart phones, iPads, whatever. It gives you a chance to get away from constantly updating and checking your apps. It lowers your stress levels and reconnects you with what’s happening in the real world.
Bring someone else along with you to a workout and to a Spartan race. Not only is it more fun and more motivating for you, but you could also help motivate them too. “Spartan has probably changed your life so why not find a friend or loved one that you can inspire the same way,” says Deibler.
If you’ve already completed a Spartan in the Open division, then why not move up to a new level of competition. See what more you can do and maybe you’ll surprise yourself. Study up on our tips to crush your first elite heat.
The best way to achieve your goals is to actually set some, says Deibler. Loads of research on goal setting suggests you should set specific, measureable, and attainable-but-difficult goals. And your odds of success dramatically improve if you write them down. Then establish a clear step-by-step plan for how get there. You’ll be glad you did at this time next year. Ready to swing into 2020 like a champ? Check out our interview with Spartan World Champ Robert Killian on how he sets goals, and get started with his NYE workout.