Spartan obstacle course racer Faye Stenning’s overarching goal is to become a World Champion. In this interview she reveals her mental tricks of how to cope with tough work-out sessions, gives her view of the OCR-community, and discusses important qualities to have as a professional racer.
When talking to Faye one understands the importance of mental strength in Obstacle Course Racing:
“You need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. You have to know and accept that you’re not going to feel amazing on top of that mountain with very little air, running 25 miles, carrying stuff. You need to have an ability to block that out and find enjoyment in just being outside. You have to have a lot of grit.”
Being able to adapt to the unexpected is another aspect she finds important. The reason being is that it’s often not clear what the next obstacle will be, the possibility of terrain altering, or if the weather forecast holds true.
“You know, you could show up in a race thinking you’re going to run in shorts and a sports bra and then it snows overnight and the course is wet and all the obstacles are slippery. That changes everything. So just being able to go with the flow and kind of adapt and not get too worked up when things don’t go your way.”
Faye’s competitiveness and “work hard, put your head down, and get the job done” mentality is surely something that has contributed to her athletic success. Her ability to cope with pain and tough work-outs:
“I sometimes say to myself when I’m in the middle of a workout that I don’t really want to do and only another hour to do it ‘Alright, figure out a way to just be okay with this. Be okay with this uncomfortableness. Be okay with this pain. Just sort of block it out and just find a way to manage it and be comfortable with it’. ”
She reveals that her trick of dealing with the issue of having to work-out on a day when she’s not mentally, nor physically feeling in the game, is to try to appreciate those days anyway:
“Just remember that these days are actually making you stronger. It’s not like you’re getting mentally stronger going out there on an amazing day when you feel like “Oh I just want to get up and run. Those days aren’t making you stronger. It’s the days you don’t want to do it and you do it anyways that’s actually making you tougher.”
When it comes to career highlights in her pro-life so far, Faye mentions the 2016 World Championships:
“I had kind of fallen back early on in the race and was sitting in 7th or 10th or something just thinking it wasn’t a good day for me, but somehow I kind of kept pushing and pushing. I kept believing in myself and worked my way up to third place.”
Her current focus is on the US Championships Series Races as well as the Mountain Championship Series Races. She wants to become a World Champion.
“I want to win a world championship race before I retire. I don’t know if that will happen this year, next year, or the year after that- but it’s something I feel I can’t walk away from the sport until it happens.”
It certainly takes a lot of training to reach that level and Faye says that everyone trains sort of secretly on their own during off-season.
“In winter time everyone sort of trains in secret and then you don’t really know everyone’s fitness level until the first race. So it’s so hard to figure out exactly what I’m capable of until I see them [competitors] all lined up.”
Now that the first two races of the season are over, Faye is leading the US National Series. With her mental tricks, training and hunger to win, we look forward to follow and support her during the season.
Considering the fact that Faye’s a pro-athlete, one might think that the community of OCR is all tough, raw and aggressive. When asking her about it, she on the other hand describes it as fun and inclusive. Everyone hangs out with everyone:
“It’s not like the pro’s hang out just with the pros.”
At the top level she explains that it’s very cut throat and that they’re all out to win, but in other heats and parts of the community, she believes it to be very much team oriented and says that many people do the races with their family or in a group of co-workers for example.
“It’s kind of like a “work hard play hard feel” at a lot of the races.”
A large amount of people train for many months for OCR-races but when their race is done, everyone seem to let loose and share their stories and have a good time. Faye emphasizes that the atmosphere is very social rather than an uptight sporty event and resembles it in a way with a party.
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