Defining Fitness... and a Spartan Race Giveaway!

As I was finishing Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, I phrase stood out to me and really made me think:
For a brief, proud period I was slender and fit. I gained a profound respect for wilderness and nature and the benign dark power of woods.
He's speaking about his journey along the Appalachian Trail. It's his definition of "fit" that stands out to me. Throughout the book, he's made a point of letting us know that he's of average fitness. From his description, I would guess he is more couch potato than gym rat. He talks often of his tendency to eat Snickers during his time on the trail. Not a person I would characterize as fit. But I probably have a very narrow definition for whom I would consider to be fit.

The question is: What makes a person fit?

Bill Bryson seems to define it as being able to carry a loaded pack over 10-15 miles over a period of 8 hours or so a day.

A cyclist might define being fit as being able to ride at a certain pace for a number of miles.

A runner might say a BQ (Boston Qualifying time for a marathon = extremely fast) or maybe the ability to run a certain pace per mile or distance.

A weightlifter might say it's the ability to lift an astounding number of pounds.

But put the runner on the bike or the weightlifter in running shoes... and we might have a problem with their fitness.

And this would be a reason I love CrossFit and obstacle racing so much. Other sports are pretty narrow in scope in their requirements to achieve success. Historically, the triathlon or the decathlon would be the best test of all-round fitness. But could those athletes bench press their body weight? CrossFit and OCR tests us across a variety of challenges-- speed, strength and endurance. Are those sports the best determiners of fitness?

Spartan Race Giveaway!
And speaking of OCR, if you haven't yet tried one, let me help! I promise it will be the biggest challenge and the most fun you've had in a long time.

To celebrate the release of Joe DeSena's new book, Spartan Fit!, Spartan Race is giving away a free Spartan Race. "BOOK?!" you say. YES, BOOK! Spartan Fit! promises to help prepare you to do a Spartan Race by providing you with a 31 day workout and diet plan. Start where you are and learn how to use your own body to become more fit.
Click to pre-order
Enter to win a free race for any open heat (non-confirmed start time) in any Spartan Race in the continental US:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
For 10% off of any race, use the code SPARTANBLOGGER.


  1. Awesome article.

    I hadn't really noticed how being fit changes depending on one's goals. Personally, being fit for me just compromises of me feeling healthy and strong. Of course I strive every day to get stronger or run longer, but being fit is kind of just a way of life being active and healthy.

  2. Fitness for me is defined physically and also mentally. As I progress through my fitness journey, I am constantly being tested mentally to push further and further (hours, miles, reps, etc). Fitness is a lifelong journey that never ends because it is constantly evolving. I never feel like I've "arrived" and this keeps me hungry to keep improving.


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