Sometimes in life you face obstacles.
I’ve faced many obstacles, but never did I imagine that the next obstacle I’d face would be 12 feet in the air, above an ice filled, hell hole after a mountain kicking my ass for 12 miles.
But after weeks of convincing from my fearless friend Andrea; I paid my $160 and officially became a “Tough Mudder”.
Which brought me to the question “how the hell do I train for this?”
First thing is first, DO NOT think because you challenge the elliptical every once in a while, that you will not have to train for this race. Its 12 miles of pure, relentless torture to the body and mind and your local body pump class is not going to cut it.
You’re going to need prep time and a solid balance of strength training, cardio conditioning, and some dedication.
The Dos’s and DONT’S of obstacle races:
- Do find a team or partner! Between prepping for this mother and actually getting through the race; an obstacle buddy helps both mentally and physically.
- Give yourself time to train. This is not an “off the couch 5K”, you’ll need to strengthen cardiovascular and strength abilities, through multiple outlets of training. I suggest 12-8 weeks prep time.
- Get great equipment! Gorilla gloves, elbow pads, and anything short of wrapping yourself in bubble wrap will not only make the race more enjoyable, but save those knees and elbows.
- TRAIN OUTSIDE! Whether you’re on a mountain or in the desert, weather conditions have potential to change instantly, so get your booty acclimated and prepared for whatever the day brings!
The first thing you must know is that not only is this race designed with military training tactics in mind, but it represents the idea of TEAM and no one is left behind! So myself and my team “The Flying Coyotes” began our plan of attack.
Easier said than done; to quote myself accurately, “I work out, not run!”, but I put my big girl panties on and began training. By week three of training, I hadn’t ran this much since following the ice cream truck as a kid, well ok, since he drove by the neighborhood last week; but either way I was jumping on the treadmill running my heart out 4 times a week, and although my stamina and distance had improved, I felt I was still unprepared.
This may have been my first mistake in my training. I was spending so much time getting in miles, that I was completely missing the point that most of the race wasn’t about the distance; it’s about the obstacle and mental approach!
The truth is, depending on the course, there is going to be more up and downhill than straight shots, and running will help build your stamina and conditioning, but it’s not going to take you the whole way.
I began developing a training routine that consisted of upper body weight strength moves, combined with short and long burst cardiac stamina. I can’t lie it was a rough first couple of weeks, but slowly and surely I was feeling strong and mentally starting to understand strategies for kickin’ this mountain’s ass!
I started my training 6 weeks out and having the opportunity again, I suggest looking at 10-8 weeks as a good start. I began with 1 hour strength training workouts followed by split cardio days focusing on HIIT cardio and long distance stamina building runs.
Alysha’s Tough Mudder Workout:
Warm up: 1.5 mile run; focusing on consistent pace and controlled heart rate
Circuit 1: (3 rounds, 2 minute rest between sets)
25 Kettle Bell Swings
10 push ups
25 kettle bell swings
1 minute plank
Pull Ups 4 x 15
Circuit 2: (3 rounds, 2 minute rest between sets)
10 Front Bar Squats
10 1-Arm Snatches (Right and Left)
20 Chop Squats
Decline Push Ups 4 x 20
35 Minute Stair-master HIIT*
*45 seconds max effort pace, followed by 1 minute intense pace, followed by 2 minute recovery pace. Repeat for the entire 35 minutes.
The morning of the race approached, and I actually felt ready! After weeks of training through the cold, rain, and breathless girl chat with Andrea; we lined up and got ready to take this mother on!
Mile after mile went by and I could tell my stair master and upper body training was coming in handy and the Flying Coyotes were kickin’ ace! Then my biggest fear came into view: The Arctic Enema.
Standing on the ledge, glancing down at a bunker filled with pounds of ice water; I had a moment of clarity, where I thought there was no way in hell I could do this!
Tucking my tail between my legs, I began the “walk of shame” down to the bottom and then the a random stranger gave me the best motivation I’d ever heard: “You’re not gonna wimp out are you?”
I turned around, jumped in, and instantly heard everyone cheer. This is why you pay $160 bucks to get your ass kicked by a mountain: because there are wimps just like you; challenging their fears, and having a blast doing it!
The rest of the 12 miles was hard, dirty, shocking (literally), and one of the best feeling of accomplishment I’ve ever had.
After crossing the finish line; team Flying Coyotes hugged, drank beers, and received the famous “Tough Mudder” headband; while soaking in the awesome moment of accomplishment.
I got asked by a client, weeks later, how I felt about taking on the toughest race on the planet and if I’d do it again?“I made a mountain my bitch; I can take on anything now,” I replied, and that is exactly how every Tough Mudder feels.
So climb that mountain, face your fears, and wear that orange head band like a gold medal because taking on the Tough Mudder is worth it!