Spartan UP! Book Review


Editor’s Note: I found Spartan UP! a quick, easy and overall, an enjoyable read. As Michael states below, I enjoyed learning more about Joe De Sena – the face and name most associated with Spartan Race.  The overall points Joe D. made about nutrition, and even more so, how we as a society are becoming soft, rang true.  I enjoyed reading the stories and anecdotes of great explorers and the ancient Spartans but found the numerous Spartan Race success stories to be excessive.  This is a book for Spartan Race enthusiasts to pass on to their friends in the hopes of explaining what obstacle racing and Spartan Race means to them. – P.B.

The Review

Boy it has been a while since I have been able to sit down and actually read a book from cover to cover, but taking the time to read Joe De Sena’s new book ‘Spartan Up!’ was time well spent to get some views of what makes Joe tick and why he does the things he does with not only Spartan Race but with life in general.

Joe does a great job in giving the reader what they would expect out of the book, which is plenty of training, nutrition and motivational stories.  Many of the personal stories in the book show every reader how Joe not only created Spartan Race, but how he survived and thrived in the business world as well as the racing world.  From stories of personal physical pain (leg being ripped out of his hip socket) to his emotional  struggles while racing he gives us much more than anyone thought was there from the origins story of Joe De Sena.  Joe gives us much more of his personal story to show us how he had the same types of struggles in his life that everyone else has dealt with, but has his own personal list of guidelines to follow to not only get through these struggles but to overcome and thrive after getting through them.

Joe also gives us a great overview of his racing experiences (all the good and bad of his racing career) to provide his rationale and planning of his Spartan Race series.  Joe does a masterful job of providing case examples of what current Spartan racers have had to endure and survive to get to where they are today as part of the Spartan lifestyle. From cancers survivors to weight control issues, he has provided plenty of examples to show there are an infinite amount of things everyone has to endure in their lifetime but that anyone can deal with those situations with the right attitude and information.

There are plenty of personal stories about racers Joe has talked to and worked with that will also give you more than enough motivation to never give up and keep striving to achieve the Spartan level of success.  I think one of the main motivational parts of the book is when Joe goes into detail on the real danger of losing a limb due to an accident, and shows how Joe gathers information quickly and makes good sound decision based on his strong analytical skills in even the most serious situations.  It gives many of us the confidence to do the same thing to achieve everything we want in life.

I give the book a solid 5 rating, although I am always the critic so I could find some areas of improvement.  However, for anyone wanting to take on the Spartan lifestyle this book is an absolute must read to understand what needs to be done to achieve Spartan success.

  1. Fun to Read – 95 out of 100 – Joe does a great job of using different referral topics to use as a comparison to the Spartan Race thought process to give readers more of an every person’s thinking when it comes to doing a Spartan Race and taking on the Spartan lifestyle.
  2. Helpful – 90 out of 100 – Joe holds no punches when it comes to his training and racing philosophy.  He does not hesitate to turn his nose up to supplements, and other ways people attempt to train and get an advantage in the racing process.  His thinking of all natural and clean eating is one of the main things I take away from his recommendations.
  3. Knowledge of Topic – 100 out of 100 – Joe thrives at being challenged, and with every topic he touches on in the book he shows the expertise he has or works to achieve the necessary knowledge of the topic at hand to make sure he makes the correct choices.  Joe shows why he  was so successful at everything from college to racing.
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Michael Matter
46 year old OCR racer from Carlisle, PA. A runner for 30 years but totally committed to Obstacle course racing as my passion and commitment to my fitness regimen. Currently a 2013 Trifecta Holder for Spartan Race and working towards my 2014 Trifecta as well.


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