Tough Mudder Training and Tips

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Type: Outdoors, Adventure
Category: Entertainment
Company: Masochistic Friends
Cost: Varies depending on when you sign up – between $80 and $180

Tough Mudder has already been reviewed as an activity (one that I highly recommend), but I keep receiving questions regarding training, and what to expect upon your first Mudder. And while I am certainly not a certified trainer or anything close, I can offer some OTC training tips and advice.

Also note that if you work out on a regular basis (weight training and cardio), you should be able to complete a Mudder without significantly altering your current routine. 
  • Hills - While not all Mudder events take place on hilly terrain, the previous two I ran did.  And I really shouldn't say "hill" - "mountain" is more applicable.  They will be brutal.  You will run up, and down, and up, and down, and repeat it til you cant think anymore.  Even the short climbs will make your quads cry for mercy.  To prep, find a local High School or College track that has ample seating, and start running stadiums.  A steep hill will work as well. I recommend checking out the Manhattan Beach Sand Dune or the Santa Monica Stairs.  Sprint up and walk down, repeating for a set number (or time, I go with 10 minute sets).  Take a break to stretch and hydrate, jog a lap, and then repeat.  Adding this to your routine will not only help prep you for the Mudder's hills, but this type of interval training can actually improve overall cardio strength, a much needed skill...
  • Cardio -  HIlls or no hills, you will be activiely moving for at least 2 hours (and maybe closer to 4, depending on your fitness level and/or teammates).  You need to make sure your overall aerobic capacity is up to the challenge.  As mentioned above, you can kill two birds with one stone with your hill training.  But depending on your current fitness level, you will still need lace up running shoes and hit the pavement (or trail).  Hate running?  Hop on a bike, or even use an elliptical machine at the gym.  Find a balance between longer and slower training sessions with more interval training.  Try 30 seconds of running/biking as fast as possible, then slowing down for another 30.  Repeat for 10 minutes.  Your training will go quicker and you will see amazing cardio results. 
  • Along with all the legwork, Mudder does require upper body strength as well.  Monkey bars, 12 foot walls, and especially log carries - all of these will test your upper body endurance as well.  Being able to lift your body weight after already having all your energy depleted is necessary to finish the race.  If you don't have access to a gym (and even if you do), the best training for Mudder are the classics - pushups and pullups.  You'll need to focus more on lots of reps at lower weight, which is exactly what these exercises accomplish.  
If you want to fully dedicate yourself to kicking Mudder's ass, spend your week mixing up hill training, cardio, and body-weight training.  Of course, hitting heavy weights once a week will help as well, but its hard to beat the tips outlined above. 

Once you have the strength to finish, you need to prep your equipment.  Assuming you aren't completely crazy and running the race in a full suit (I've seen it done multiple times), you'll want to gear up properly.  

  • Shoes: Trail running shoes are the most logical choice, followed by a pair of sturdy cross trainers.   Make sure you tie them TIGHT.  Before you double knot them, remember that you will get rocks in your shoes, and might have to take them off quickly to dump debris.  Wet knots with freezing fingers = giant pain. 
  • Socks: Obviously moisture-wicking socks are the best for this (although they will still be wet at the end), but also make sure they extend a few inches up your ankle, and fit tightly around your leg.  You don't want rocks slipping between your sock and skin. 
  • Tape: You'll also see people with their ankles/socks/shoelaces taped.  I've found that it isn't worth it.  The tape will end up falling off, and will limit access to adjusting shoes and socks. 
  • Attire: Less is better.  Sure, you might be cold at the start before the blood gets flowing, but once you're sweaty and covered in water, you want as little clothing on you as possible.  If you must wear a shirt (prude), be aware that running with a loose damp shirt can and will chafe your nipples.  
  • And as always, don't forget sunscreen.  With all the random mud spots on your face and arms, do you want a splotchy tan/sunburn?
  • Accessories: Headbands, hats, capes, backpacks - unless they are an essential part of your team attire, skip them.  They will take on water (and weight), and you'll end up worrying if they are falling off).
So there you have it - take all my advice, part of it, or completely ignore it.  Just make sure you get off the couch and get muddy once in a while.  

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