JEANETTE: Today’s guest is actually the fastest 5k runner in the whole world. Assisted by his dog Blake, Ben Robinson from the UK beat the world record with the time at 12 minutes, 24 seconds. I met him at the World Championships in Canicross in Sweden some months ago to find out how he is training. After they won, he was already more than 30 seconds ahead of #2. How is that possible?
BEN: It’s a combination of factors. I just had really good preparation. We started preparing for this race in the spring. Throughout the summer, I did whatever I could with Blake in terms of heat acclimatization, and obviously in the end we actually had slightly warmer temperatures than expected, but Blake was able to deal with those. Obviously I’m very lucky that Blake’s an exceptional dog. And just massive athletic preparation myself as well, away from canicross, and then just put the two together, and the result was pretty good for us.
JEANETTE: There’s a lot of good runners out there, but you seem to be one step ahead all the time. How are you training?
BEN: I train in athletics and canicross, obviously with the dog. A lot of my training will be on my own, but at the same time I place a great importance on working with Blake. I think we’ve seen in the past some really strong athletes, but then maybe don’t have the bond with the dog. So all the time, even when I’m training say an average week where I’ll train most of the time myself, I’m with Blake, walking him, whether that’s on lead, whether it’s off lead, scooter training, free running. I’m always with him. He lives at home with the family as well.
So I think it’s a combination of my athletic ability, obviously his incredible ability as a sport sled dog, and then still keeping that bond and importance on that bond.
JEANETTE: How does a normal week look for the two of you?
BEN: An average week, I would run most days. Maybe the odd rest day, so one day off. Probably two interval sessions for myself, one hills-based session and then one long run, and then the rest of the run is just made up of a little bit of recovery work. For Blake, in season, probably between three and four harness-specific sessions, which would mostly be scooter with just the occasional bike session as a speed and maybe the occasional canicross just to get my legs used to it, certainly in season.
And then hit up a couple of free runs with the rest of the team dogs. They all free run as a group, so they run hard together, and then a couple of days where he’ll walk on harness. I use obviously the half harness, the shoulder harness, but he will pull. I always let him pull on the walk, so that’s like a high resistance session for him.
And then I always give the dogs at least one rest day. Sometimes two if I feel they need it, but a complete rest day where they’re only at home, only in the garden, nothing at all, no walk, no run. I think there’s a lot of importance on the recovery for the dog as well.
JEANETTE: Do you have any breaks throughout the year, like a week or a month or something like this with alternative training?
BEN: Yeah, I always try and find a couple of stages across a calendar year where we have a few weeks of no structured training. We just do what we feel like, just enjoy time together, just the free run and the walk, but nothing else. It will depend a little bit where that fits on the seasons. That’s quite a hard thing to manage.
Obviously, I manage my own training around an athletic season and cross-country and road running, and then obviously for Blake, there’s the domestic season at home and then there’s an international season, and they don’t always agree, so a lot of the time it’s dictated to by that a little bit. But we’ll always try and find some time to rest too.
JEANETTE: How is it for you two to rest?
BEN: We’re quite active, still. Blake will accept it for maybe a day or two of complete rest. He’s used to that, obviously, in the