I just finished completing the first Tough Mudder race here in the US and it definitely lives up to the title. www.toughmudder.com. If your not familiar with this event, it's an endurance obstacle course race of about 7 miles or more (depending on which race you do) testing all aspects of fitness. The first race was held in Allentown, PA at the Bear Creak Mountain Resort on May 2nd. Temperature for the race was about 85 degrees. I decided to write this article because this is a new event that is gaining popularity and when I first started to train for it I could barely find any useful tips on how to train so I had to experiment on my own and after the race the following is what I came with.
How long should I train?
If your planning to do this event you want to give yourself a good 8-12 weeks with about 4-5 days a week of training.
What should my training split be?
You want to get in 2 long gym sessions with about 3 long runs. A recommended split would be, Monday/Wednesday - Gym workout, Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday - Long run.
How should I train for my runs?
You should try and find yourself some trails with good elevation changes and increase how many miles you do each week. First week of training try for 2 miles each run, next week try for 2.5 or 3. Just keep increasing to get your cardio up and use to running. For this particular race it was 7 miles total. Being able to do 5 miles comfortably would be sufficient.
How should I train in the gym?
Assuming you have a gym membership, You want to keep your gym sessions as close to what you'd be doing to the race. At first you should be in there for an hour with 45 second rest between sets. As the weeks progress, Try for 1.5 hours with 35 second rests and eventually the final weeks, 1.75 hours with 30 seconds rest between sets.
What are the main muscles I'll be using in the race?
I'll list the order of importance from top to bottom for the particular race which had a lot of mountain and uneven terrain.
Secondary muscles were
Lastly are muscles that you should train but not nearly at the level of importance are
What are some key exercises I should focus on?
When your in the gym, these are the exercises you should train hard that will really help in your race.
1) Stairmaster/Step Machine - This will emulate the hills and are a key component in your training.
2) Deep Squats - If your race has black diamond mountains (extremely steep) This will help give you the power to dig into those hills and push up and onward.
3) Calf raises/Seat calf raises - Focus on alot of reps to get your calves conditioned.
4) Pullups - The most important upper body exercise you will need for this race. Will build your back, biceps and forearm strength.
5) Bicep curls - After each rep try and do a static hold for 5 seconds to build good endurance.
6) Ab circuit - Try and do a 10 minute ab routine that contains a variety of movements with no rest
For most of these workouts use your body weight and just keep increasing the reps. If you feel you get stuck at some points, incorporate a heavier weight and try and get the reps up to where they were and keep on pushing.
What's a good sample routine?
Warm up on the eliptical for about 10 minutes, Proceed by doing a upper body routine,
Pullups - 5 sets
Dips - 3 sets
Chinups - 3 sets
Pushups - 3 sets
Shoulder press - 3 sets
Bicep curls - 4 sets
Stairmaster - 20-30 minutes
Ab routine - 10 minutes
Inclined jog on treadmill - 5 to 10 minutes
Warm down stretch.
What Should I wear for the race?
Lycra/spandex style clothing (under armour style gear) will keep you dryer than cotton and more maneuverability. Trail shoes you can wear with no socks. Try and wear items that will cover your knees and elbows to protect from scrapes.
What Should I eat before the race?
Last few days before the race try and eat salty foods or foods you like but add some salt. You want to keep a high sodium diet to help retain a lot of water so you wont get as dehydrated for the race. Try and eat carb heavy foods the night before and in the morning try and do a light breakfast, a bagel or some oatmeal 3 hours before the race is a good example. Drink plenty of water and gatorade the day before the race.
Last point I can make is during the race remember to keep a good pace, if you need to take a walk break then definitely do it but keep moving. I witnessed too many people try and run up the hills to only be seen by a medic needing oxygen half way up and having to get pulled from the race. People were gassed by the time to got to certain sections and couldn't finish. If you pace yourself and push through the pain you will finish.
I have a training journal up but I would take a look at it just to see all the different things I tried in preparation for this event. I wouldn't really follow it too much because I wasn't sure what to do like I said before and it was all experimentation. It's only after the race that I know now what I should've done and concentrated on. My last few workouts though I felt I was pretty spot on. Hope this was a helpful article to any future tough mudders out there looking for some insight on what to expect.
Thread: Tough Mudder Training Tips