Training hard for beast of a challenge

Spartan Training - Image Don EhmanSpartan Race competitors across Canada are training hard, getting physically and mentally prepared to tackle the Spartan obstacle course when it returns to Sun Peaks on September 27 and 28. SPIN took the opportunity to speak with a returning Spartan competitor.

After taking part in the five kilometre Sprint last year, former Sun Peaks resident Jason Benson is returning with his sights set on a new goal — the 20 km Spartan Beast.

Last year’s Sprint marked Benson’s first entry into a Spartan Race, and it has whet his appetite for more. Bensons is now training smarter, longer and harder, as he prepares himself for his new challenge.

After training for six weeks before last year’s event, Benson confessed it wasn’t enough.

“The race was really hard man. I really enjoyed it, but by the time the race was over I was just about out of energy. I realized I really had to focus more on training my endurance,” Benson said. “The last few obstacles were horrible, and those are the ones in front of the spectators.”

The hardest of those final obstacles for Benson was the rope climb.

“I’m not looking forward to doing that again. You think climbing a rope isn’t going to be too hard, but at the end of the race when you’re exhausted, and the rope is muddy and slick and wet and cold, it’s a lot harder than you think.”

To prepare for this year’s Spartan Race, and the added challenge of taking on the Beast, Benson said he’s been training every day since May, including working with a personal trainer from No Limits Fitness in Kamloops.

“I sent him photos of my gym at work and he helped me put together a workout based on my equipment,” explained Benson. “It’s a hard core workout. It makes me want to puke. I’m training my cardio, doing lots of running, and simulated obstacles like climbing ropes, and then back to running.”

Growing up with asthma, Benson was often told he wouldn’t be able to play sports or compete in activities like the Spartan Race, but he’s made a habit of proving people wrong, climbing mountains around the world and training just as hard as everyone else.

“(Completing the Beast) is a personal goal for me. Everyone is doing the Spartan Race for their own reasons,” he explains. “There’s a lot of older people, like me, competing. I think because you can compete as an individual, but you can also compete as a team and help each other out. Lots of people help out and encourage each other on the obstacles.”

Benson also offered some advice for newcomers to the Spartan Race training scene.

“Just train your cardio like crazy. If you’re in a gym, look for a treadmill that can be set up on an incline and set it to the highest possible incline to get your legs accustomed to running up a hill.”

You can find more training tips and workout routines at the Spartan Race website.