At 51, Ed LaPlante found himself with a heart condition known as cardiogenic syncope, which basically means his heart rate became dangerously slow. LaPlante was diagnosed with the condition after a harrowing day on the road when he, feeling woozy, pulled over to the highway shoulder and eventually passed out. He took a year off driving to recover, at which point he realized he needed a change. “I was far too young to be messing around with things like that,” he says. Fast forward to today: LaPlante is 60, and he’s competed in more than 40 Spartan races—a series of obstacle races of varying distances and difficulties.
It’s been a wild journey for LaPlante, and it all started with an app. “I recommend everybody try this free app called Couch to 5K or C25K,” LaPlante says. “It helps you work up to 30 minutes of running in about 8 weeks, which works out great for drivers who have to take mandatory 30-minute breaks every eight hours.” In 2014, shortly after building up his fitness level with the app, LaPlante signed up for a Spartan race in Boston’s Fenway Park.
According to LaPlante, Spartan races are characterized by three things: “mud, fire, and barbed wire.” During a Spartan race, competitors are tasks with sprinting long distances, climbing over obstacles and, of course, completing the signature fire jump obstacle at the end of each race. So, how does it feel to leap over those flames and cross the finish line? “It’s hard to describe it,” LaPlante says. “Especially your first finish—you don’t know if you’re going to make it. It’s like, ‘I can run a 5K, but can I climb that wall, get up that rope and life that heavy object for an extended distance?’”
His new hobby has taken LaPlante all over the country—and even to Sparta, Greece, where he competed in the Spartan Trifecta World Championships. There, he raced a total of 30 miles in one weekend and traversed Sparta’s craggy mountains and ancient olive groves in an ultimate test of his endurance and willpower. Of course, Spartan racers require months of training before they can successfully complete a Trifecta. LaPlante acknowledges the training can be tough with a driver’s schedule, but he says it’s all about the mindset. “I try to train every day during my mandatory break,” he says, outlining a regimen that involves running a minimum of six miles every other day and completing TRX and dumb-bell exercises at truck stops.
Read more in the Prime magazine, Prime Ways – The Big Reveal
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