The excuse you don’t have

Why racing is for you


Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian

By Nicole Biagioni, Collegian Contributor

Call me crazy when I tell you — I love running Spartan Races. If you don’t know what that is, call it a 5-kilometer on steroids. They range from a 5K to a half-marathon, with crazy obstacles such as mud pits, barbed wire crawls, eight-foot walls, inverted walls, extreme monkey bars and so much more. People say I am insane, outlandish even. And to that I say: “Yes, I’m all that and then some, and I don’t have any excuses.”

As of Nov. 11, I have completed six races, which total more than 20 miles of running on course and countless more miles training. There’s also the added measure of weight training needed to be able to complete the more CrossFit-style obstacles. The idea of training for a such an event is daunting enough and a huge time commitment.

Every time I ask a friend to run a race with me, they tend to come up with an excuse. These people are young and physically healthy yet decline the invitation. I swear I’ve heard it all. As my dad would always say, “excuses are like bellybuttons: everybody’s got one.”

Humans tend to make excuses for a range of obstacles (no pun intended) that they encounter, but why do people make them? Aristotle, in his albeit confusing manner, says that excuses are made voluntarily and not by accident. We are enslaved to making excuses. Believe it or not there is a science behind this whole ordeal: excuses are deeply rooted in fear. Fear goes back to the instinctive “fight or flight” response. Based off your senses, you can judge whether something is a threat or not. The sight of a tall wall or some CrossFit obstacle conglomeration plants the seed of intimidation which results in the “flight” response. All anyone wants to do is hide from something that scares them. Are those walls, spear throws, dunk walls or two-story cargo net climbs really that scary that you have to run away and cower in the corner? Or is it the fear of failure? The fear that you won’t finish? The fear of embarrassment? Let’s talk about a few of these excuses.

I can’t run. Running isn’t an actual excuse. The human body was genetically built to run extreme distances. Back to the human’s primal days, it was either “kill or be killed.” My cross-country coach once said that humans would be able to chase down a deer because the deer would eventually tire while the human would have the endurance to keep going. According to writer Tara Parker-Pope, even when put into severe heat, “a human could even outrun a horse in a 26.2-mile marathon.” In Parker-Pope’s article, she discusses how the human body was evolutionarily developed from our primate ancestors and how certain sections of our body, whether it be our toes, head or gluteus maximus, are designed for running.

It’s too expensive. One of the most common excuses made is financial. Each race has a price tag; the longer the race, the more expensive it is to compete in. My first recommendation is to book your ticket when the race is first announced—that’s when they are the cheapest, and you have the most time to train. Then, you have committed yourself to the race. You can also purchase your ticket whenever Spartan has a sale, which is monthly. But for college students, Spartan Races are free with the addition of a $15 insurance fee. So instead of paying $100 for your ticket, you’re paying the equivalent of a Dominos order or Insomnia Cookies craving.

It’s impossible. If you can still find an excuse, consider someone like Kacey McCallister, a double leg amputee. He lost both legs when he was six years old. McCallister had to figure out how to live without legs and manage everyday tasks. Yet, McCallister didn’t make an excuse for himself. He says, “From the very beginning… it’s not a disability, [it] was never an issue.” After completing marathons, McCallister was bored. He wanted a challenge. He came across Spartan Races and even said, “That was a little too far. That’s impossible.” Yet, to date, McCallister has finished a Spartan Sprint, a Super and even a Beast with hilly terrain, rivers, mud and obstacles. McCallister had every excuse, but he refused to accept it.

Mac McGovern once said “Excuses are nothing more than a reason to fail.” It is so easy to succumb to an excuse because it’s like taking the easy way out. But by taking the easy way out, you are no better than the excuse you make for yourself. It’s time to stop living in fear. Even if it isn’t a Spartan Race but in your daily life, it is time to stop making excuses for every situation. Your time is up for making excuses. You are out of reasons to fail. I’ll leave you with this quote from Spartan Races: “Excuses are easy, but excuses don’t live here. Results do.”

Nicole Biagioni is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]