Get Faye-Stenning Fit
Faye Stenning has been known as a pint-sized speedster in the Calgary running community for years, but only recently did she become a household name as a world-class obstacle course racing ( ocr) athlete. In 2016, Faye snagged a spot on the Reebok Spartan Pro Team, was ranked second in the U.S. Spartan championship series, and finished third at the world championship race in Tahoe, Calif. in October, with a nail-biter sprint to the finish against fellow Canadian superstar, Lindsay Webster.
We know you’ve been competitive in the running scene for years now, as a member of the University of Calgary track team, but what inspired you to make the switch over to OCR?
It started at a Red Deer Spartan race in 2013, when I had just started dating my boyfriend, Josh. We signed up for the race thinking it would be a fun challenge to do together. I won that first race by a mile, so like a lot of runners, just thought it was a joke and not something to actually ever take seriously. But we continued to race, as it was a fun way to travel around to different places. Travelling and racing down in the States, I realized that there is money and competition in this after all, and I could no longer just run away with the wins. My competitive instincts kicked in, and I started to train and take things seriously.
Crushing Spartan races all over North America means you are on the road a lot. How do you balance other work and life responsibilities?
I don’t. Balance is impossible. At a certain level, you will need to prioritize and pick and choose. I aim for great time management skills and efficiency, but perfectionism in the day-to-day goes out the window. I do always make time for friends and family, and sleep. Sleep is a really important part of my training and always takes priority. But really, my key advice: have a partner who is good at housework, have a lot of clothes to limit laundry and eat out a lot so you don’t have to cook.
You are known on the Spartan circuit for your speed, so you’ve clearly got the running part down. When it comes to the obstacles, what are your strengths and weaknesses?
Running is definitely my strength. With training, I’ve become proficient at heavy carries and grip strength. For the most part, I rarely fail obstacles, but am always working to do them faster. I would say that the spear throw, going over walls, balance and going down steep technical mountain trails are my weakest areas.
Any tips for a first-timer when it comes to attacking the obstacles?
It’s helpful to practice a lot of grip strength. This can include farmer carries (carrying heavy dumbbells at your side), dead hangs, pinch grip plate holds, pullups and chin-ups. Training for heavy carries will also help with multiple obstacles. Carry heavy, awkward things, such as sandbags and buckets, and load different areas of your body – back, shoulders, front. As you get better, start adding incline, carrying the weight up steep hills. On the running side, try to make most of your runs on trails and incorporate as many hills as you can.
A lot of people are looking up at you as a role model and inspiration. Who do you look to for motivation or advice?
Jessica O’Connell – we have been good friends since high school. She has had so much hardship, bad luck, and injury in sport, yet went to the Rio Olympics. She just has this relentless drive, always hopeful, always toughing it out. She shows me things don’t need to be perfect – training, diet, life – but you can still have a perfect race.