Sign up for this race if you want to know how mentally and physically strong you really are

Three months ago, I signed a waiver acknowledging the possibility of serious injuries or death before running my first Spartan Race on an island in the Bahamas.

My only goal for the race: survive.

Spartan Races are broken into three categories based on distance and number of obstacles:

•Sprint (3-5 miles, 20-23 obstacles)

•Super (8-10 miles, 24-29 obstacles)

•Beast (12-14 miles, 30-35 obstacles)

I tackled the Sprint, and on May 17th I’m running a Super in Austin, Texas.

Before my first race, nervous energy surged through my body. But after a few obstacles and about 60 burpees (every failed obstacle demands 30 burpees), I felt empowered. I knew obstacle races improved physical fitness, but it wasn’t until I jumped over a fire pit to cross the finish line that I realised they can change your life.

Here are five things that happen to you after your first race:

1. You realise the actual meaning of “being a team player.”

I helped my mum over the eight-foot wall — and she helped me, too. We hear words like teamwork tossed around at the office all the time, but they take on a whole new meaning after an experience like this.

2. You build major mental and physical endurance.

Toward the end of the race, my energy was in short supply, but I continued to push through. In life, we often experience never-ending weeks that leave us wishing we could crawl into bed and sleep for hours. Building physical and mental endurance helps us survive until the weekend.

3. Failure is NBD.

If I had quit after my first failed obstacle, I would have lost out on the rush of crossing the finish line. Even the toughest racers were forced to do burpees after a failed an obstacle (like the almost-impossible spear throw). Learning to overcome failure and grow from it builds character and strengthens self-worth.

TeamworkBrad Barket/Getty ImagesTeammates working together to conquer the rope climb.

4. You become your biggest cheerleader.

From struggling during the rope climb to panting toward the finish line, I was forced to keep moving forward. When you’re self-motivated, you are more likely to persevere and achieve your goals.

5. You find new ways to cope with stress.

I signed my life away before the race. Believe me, I was stressed out before I started running. But once the race got going, I discovered my coping method: laughter. Being able to smile in the face of extreme obstacles is half the battle.

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