By Michael Levine and Jason Jaksetic
In response to the recent Wall Street Journal article on exercise, here at Spartan Race, we felt a certain responsibility to weigh in on the subject of what allows one individual to exceed all her perceived athletic limits, while another individual can’t endure a week of exercise.
When you read the WSJ article, you are going to see terms like VO2 Max, CO2 levels, lactic acid, and, particularly, ‘ventilatory threshold’, and these numbers are going to used to help breakdown athletic achievement and failure. Thus making the case for certain individuals ‘being hardwired to hate exercise’.
What you won’t see is any talk about resiliency, guts, personal value, or grit – and it is these core constituents of human data the unbalance any equation set up in a lab. Yes, people often move to quickly into exercise and they find themselves waning at the prospect of success, and many biological factors do play into this fact. However, more often than not, people do not test the basic limitations of their body. Instead of slowing down, they needed to accelerate.
We each have a tremendous capacity for physical growth. Need proof? Google ‘Chris Davis Project’. This mild-mannered computer specialist from Atlanta was nearly 700 pounds before starting to train with Spartan Race CEO Joe De Sena. Over the next year, Chris learned just what it meant to truly be out of breath, and then keep walking another five miles! What he would tell you if he were sitting next to me is that he discovered new limits every day.
The problem was that individually, he was never able to reach such a point to surpass his preconceived notions of physical effort and what he could accomplish. Fast forward one year and Chris Davis completed the Spartan Race Beast in Killington, Vermont at just over 260 pounds.
We contend that you need to go no further than the starting line of any of our races to see what grit means. Maybe, in the end, ventilatory threshold might be a pretty good scientific explanation for what most people mean as ‘grit’, but this leads to a false conclusion that, if the ventilatory threshold is a capped number, then a human’s capacity for grit were also capped, or ‘hard wired’.
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Tags: spartan training