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Spartan Sprinting

Posted by Lara Salahi  August 14, 2013 09:42 AM

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Ryan Healy.jpgRyan Healy is a personal trainer for the Lynch/van Otterloo (LVO) YMCA in Marblehead. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, and earned her BS in Exercise Sports Science from Elon University. Find more posts by her in conjunction with the LVO YMCA at She can be reached at

This past Sunday marked a momentous occasion -- my second Spartan obstacle race. Last year my first was through Fenway Park, an incredible and remarkable way to begin obstacle racing, and this time I was off with my team to Amesbury Sports Park. This race, despite many similar obstacles I’d faced before, would be much different because of one factor: mud!

It was with us at the start line squishing under our shoes, it was beneath the barbed wire we rolled and crawled under, filled the pits underneath the ropes we climbed, covered the hills we scrambled up and slid down, coated the monkey bars, and swirled through the trenches between the dirt moguls like a chocolate bath.

With no other option than to accept and embrace it, we got down and dirty and had some filthy fun! We ran trails, climbed over, under, and across countless walls, threw spears, faced our fear of heights while walking the plank, dragged tires and concrete blocks, climbed up and down the unforgiving hill with sandbags on our shoulders, jumped over hay stacks, and leapt over fire. I dare you not to feel invincible and hard core after successfully completing one of these races!


Throughout both my Spartan races, I was stuck with a sense of appreciation and wonderment over what my body is capable of doing. Not because I’m the fastest or strongest in any way, but because despite my injuries and imperfections, I can climb, jump, swing, pull, crawl, sprint, swim, drag, claw, and clobber my way to the finish line. Things I haven’t always been able to do with such intensity and strength as I have now. I try to point this feeling out frequently to my clients. Fitness isn’t only about your body fat percent or the number on the scale, a trap that many people fall into. Ask yourself, what can your body do now that it couldn’t do before? Are you stronger, faster, or more powerful? Can you climb stairs more easily? Carry the heavy grocery bags with ease? Keep up with your children? Make sure to appreciate these signs of progress and change as well.

Though my favorite part of these races isn’t personal glory or approbation, it’s the camaraderie between everyone. It’s people of all different, shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and abilities competing in the same race, helping one another out, and leaving no one behind. Can’t get over the wall yourself? There’s someone on the other side to grab your hand, there’s someone behind you to give you a boost, and there are ten people waiting in line cheering you on by name and telling you that you CAN do it, even if you’re shouting in fear that you can’t. The people around you help you persevere and succeed, and at the next obstacle, you pay it forward and help someone else out. It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world. That’s what it’s all about for me.

If you’re interested in trying one of these events, join me at the Spartan Fenway Time Trial again this year!

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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