Spartan Racing – Faye Stenning
Faye Stenning is Ranked #1 in the world based on Global Point Standing and 2nd in the NBC USA Championship Series, as well as a regular client at Elite Sports Therapy. Here is some insight into her athletic background, intensive training regimen, and how therapy has helped her pursue her goals…
Do you remember your first obstacle course race?
Yes, in 2013 it was the Red Deer Spartan. I definitely won that one. I found it a lot more fun to run with obstacles than to run without obstacles on the boring pavement! I found it very entertaining and a lot more exciting than just grinding it out on a road race.
What was your athletic background prior to obstacle course racing?
I was a top 3000 m runner and Cross Country runner in high school. I held the 3000 m provincial record for Junior Girls throughout high school. In University, I managed to be an All-Canadian for Cross Country in my fourth year.
What appeals to you about obstacle course racing? And The Spartan in particular?
The training is more balanced. You get to work on a variety of different things – you have your strength days, your power days, your long endurance days and you get to practice some skills that are just fun. It’s never boring. You are never doing the same workouts. The races are super unpredictable – just with the chance of having to fail an obstacle and having to go do burpees. There is a lot of movement in the race – you can be in 8th and then next thing you know 7 people fail an obstacle, and you don’t fail so you’re back in first. I focused on the Spartan series to achieve my goal of making the Reebok pro team.
What mental and physical attributes would make the ideal Spartan athlete?
Physical attributes would definitely be having a strong aerobic base. Endurance athletes tend to do well in this sport. Also, a good amount of grip strength is required, so we practice bouldering and plate pitches to work on that grip strength. Also requires a lot of lower body strength, having a good dead lift and a heavy squat seems to help with the races that have a lot of elevation and climbing. You have to be agile to be able to move through the obstacles quickly and because some of the down hills are really technical. Being able to do pull-ups is a must. You have to have explosive power to get over the walls. Kind of everything! In terms of mental, you have to be adaptable and willing to know that anything can happen in a race. Being able to change your race plan on the fly is really important.
What is your typical training week?
Training weeks are generally all over the place because injuries come up all the time. Assuming there are no injuries and no big races coming up. A typical training week…
Monday: Lunch: hill sprints Evening: weight training with a grip component
Tuesday: Lunch: treatment at Elite Sport Therapy Evening: Bragg Creek for a 90 minute to 2-hour long run
Wednesday: Lunch: recovery run Evening: lighter weight higher intensity circuit (modified crossfit workout)
Thursday: Lunch: long intervals Evening: strength training (sled push and lots of core work)
Friday: Recovery day: Light jog home from work and some stretching.
Saturday: Morning: 2 to 3 hour run Afternoon: heavy carries and grip strength with trainer
Sunday: Morning: A low key local race for a tempo effort run (shorter faster pace run) Afternoon: skill training (spear throw and slack line)
How did you get introduced to Elite Sport Therapy?
I got this weird, creaky feeling in the back of my Achilles tendon and it was like nothing I had ever felt before. It freaked me out. Through a friend, I heard about Murray Heber so I called him. Then I was hooked, because when I went to the clinic he told me that I didn’t need to take time off running. He said he was going to fix me while I kept running (which at the time I didn’t believe) but it worked! Every other injury I’ve had since then, I’ve only gone to him because he was the only person that was able to fix me while I was training for the World Championships. I hardly had to modify my training, so I was getting healthier while training – which was something I didn’t even think was possible.
What is a typical therapy week? How has Elite Sports Therapy supported your training?
When I’m not injured, I come in once a week for maintenance or more athlete performance stuff. This helps me be more explosive on the hills and on my trail runs. Obviously my muscles are pretty tight from all the training – so this session is to make sure I’m not getting overly tight to put myself at risk for injury. When I have an injury come up, I see Murray twice a week to fix the problem. I see Jeff (RMT) before every single race for a performance-enhancing massage. When I see Murray, he points out what on my body is functioning really well and what is a bit tight – maybe because that area is a bit overused. This helps me determine what type of exercises I’m going to focus on that week. It gives some guidance in my training, so I know what I’m doing too much of and not enough of.
What is your racing schedule this summer?
I’ll be racing most weekends. My big focus is on the 6 NBC races for the US championship series. The World Championships this year are in Lake Tahoe.
What are some of the perks of being a professional obstacle course racing athlete?
The perks are: I get to travel around the US without paying for it. Which is awesome. I get a bunch of Reebok swag. I get some money based on my performance and also money based off of Reebok sales. I get specialized nutrition and OCR coaching. I get a lot of opportunities to be on NBC.
What are your athletic goals for the future? Are they all obstacle course related?
My big goal is trying to get my world rankings as high as possible. I was 12th in 2014, 9th in 2015. I’m hoping for the podium this year, so top 3. But I’d be happy with top 5. Eventually, I’d love to be the world champion.