(Me and my team after conquering Tough Mudder! I’m the guy second from the left)
Pushing your comfort zone and taking action doing things you’ve always thought of doing are what make life exciting. I also love my fitness so when I got the chance to do a 12-mile obstacle course called Tough Mudder. I signed up for it straight away. I didn’t even ponder about what sort of obstacles there would be. I just had faith that when I got there. I would get over them. Which I did (with a struggle).
Let me give some of you hopefuls a run down of what a Tough Mudder entails.
First off 22% of people fail to complete it. That sounds like a lot but with the right mindset you definitely won’t be one of them.
It’s a 12 mile course with over 20 obstacles designed by the British Special Forces to test mental as well as physical strength. Electroshock Therapy. The Arctic Enema. Everest. Just a few of the names of the obstacles you have to pass through. They don’t sound like the nicest things in the world do they? Don’t forget that you’ll also be running in thick mud and awkward terrain a lot of the time. So you’ll definitely need to prepare.
Preparing for the course
In the form of running. Now this is one thing I never really used to do. My cardio usually came from kickboxing sessions. This is what I thought would be the hardest thing for me. 12 miles is a long long way. I didn’t want to let my team down so I had to practice. The way I practiced my cardio was in progressive steps. I probably spent a month of intense training for Tough Mudder. Depending on your level of fitness a longer period is probably better.
- Week 1 2.5km jogs every day resting on Sunday. Getting myself used to running outdoors which takes a little time to do especially on your legs.
- Week 2 5km jogs
- Week 3 7.5km jogs
- Week 4 9km jogs tapered off to shorter jogs by the end of the week so my body wasn’t exhausted for the race.
Optimally you should be able to run a good 8 miles before attempting the course. Although with Tough Mudder there is a lot of stopping and starting so it isn’t totally endurance style running like a marathon.
I appreciate the art of running a lot more now. It has become a lasting habit that I’ve implemented into my daily routine. Every morning I run 2.5km around my local park. Exerting yourself, accomplishing something as soon as your day starts ,clearing your head in the morning stillness whilst getting that fresh oxygen into your body feels great.
Do a lot of uphill training. This is one thing i didn’t foresee. I thought there would be few uphills on the course but mostly flat for the most part. Not the case! While I was doing it the course seemed like it was mostly uphill! This was real tough on my legs as they are not the strongest part of my body. I did do some hill training but most of it was just running around my local park. Definitely next time this will be something to work on.
You should add a workout routine in between your jogs because that will simulate the Tough Mudder course as it can be a 1km run then an obstacle so stop, starts with bursts.
An example would be a 1 mile run followed by a 10 minute routine of Push ups, Squat Jumps, Pull ups, Dips and Plank to work your whole body. Do each exercise for 1 minute and 30 seconds which gives you 30 seconds in between each exercise. Although If you can, do it continuously. Really push yourself. Only take a break when needed! Repeat 5 times so that will be a total of 5 miles running and 5 mini workouts completed.
Now bodyweight wise I can say I am fairly good with. Calisthenics is the main way I train. For someone that isn’t as adept build yourself up with basics. You’ll be climbing, using monkey bars and lifting your teammates so functional training is more important than weight lifting when it comes to a course like Tough Mudder.
In the build up towards the race do a lot of pull ups , squats , dips, push ups and add some core workouts in as well. Just doing this will be of great help to you when facing the obstacles.
Also you can strengthen your legs further with weighted squats, deadlifts and lunges to help you navigate the awkward terrain.
So the week before Tough Mudder I started taking cold showers. So that’s jumping into the coldest setting for a minute or two and then switching to hot water ( Let me tell you the first 10 seconds are hell before your body adjusts to it ).
I was doing this last summer and there are loads of benefits to cold showers which I will mention in another post. It definitely builds your mental strength as you really have to push through the anticipation of the cold and persevere through discomfort.
Jog in Adverse Weather Conditions
Don’t let the weather put you off running. Even when its raining or cold still do your run. During parts of the course it started raining accompanied with cold winds and there is nowhere to hide so this is good preparation.
Diving from Heights
Before the course I was most frightened by the electroshock therapy more than anything. It sounded brutal the way people described it.
The hardest one for me was actually walk the plank. Where you jump into chilly water from 15 feet high and then swim to safety. I am not a good swimmer at all. I was actually going to skip this obstacle because of that.
I got to the top and came back down. I was about to walk on and I thought to myself. I’ll regret not taking the risk and doing it. Someone will help if i can’t get across.
So I climbed back up and jumped from the 15 feet ( I don’t like heights either ). I did need help to get across the water but I felt proud of myself as I faced 2 big fears together and came out of it alive! : o.
To people that want to prepare for this exercise and aren’t that good at swimming. Go to your local leisure centre and practice. Also if there is diving facilities and you feel comfortable using them. Dive into the water from heights so it isn’t as much of a shock when you have to face it in the race.
There was have it. Hope any Tough Mudder hopefuls can benefit from this guide. I’ve tried to make it as comprehensive as I can. Combining all the different things your going to have to face and giving you some preparation for it.
You’ll only know if your really ready when you’re doing the actual thing though. No matter what happens don’t quit without getting your victory headband and honorary t-shirt. I have faith in you. Good Luck!
– Invest in running shoes ( You don’t wanna be running in shoes that aren’t made to do so otherwise you could injure yourself).
– Tie your shoes on tight so the mud doesn’t pull them off.
– Don’t think about the obstacle too much. Just do. Anticipation can be worse than the actual thing.
– Make sure you’re hydrated before the event and take advantage of the water stations en route. There are also a few stations offering food (energy bars on the course i ran). Grab them! You’ll need the energy and there a nice reward after putting yourself through some of the difficulties of the race.
– Treat yourself to a huge meal after the race! You deserve it!