So your friend from the office has told you how awesome Tough Mudders are, and since you woke up all badass after re-watching Predator last night, you’ve gone and registered. Just remember that before you get the head band and the beer you need to finish. That’s 12 miles of running and over a dozen obstacles mister. But registerer(er?)s remorse is for wee girls. You need to man up, collect your shit, and get yourself prepared. There’s a difference between running the whole way charging through the last obstacle and crawling across the finish line all wounded and winded. The good news: avoiding a whole world of hurt is not that complicated.
How to prepare for a Tough Mudder
1) Get Ready to Run
Priorities people! The first thing to consider is fitness, and since a good chunk of a Tough Mudder involves running, you need to focus on that first. There are a lot of people who show up at the Tough Mudder completely jacked, thinking that at least one obstacle must involve a wesson oil pose-down. Strength matters, but this is much more of an endurance event. If you have never run before, start with small distances and work your way up to longer and longer runs. Don’t overdo it, even if you feel like you can run another 5 miles on day 1, because it isn’t just your cardio that you need to build up, it is the muscles in your ankles, legs and back that come from running distances over time. We all know how to run, but we aren’t all Forest Gump. Technique matters, and so does mixing up your training routine between distances, interval training and other activities. It’s worth getting a good running book and learning about some of the varied training methods. Daniels Running Method (yes, written by someone named Jack Daniels…no, not advocating a shot of bourbon every mile) is considered one of the best running books out there for training for shorter and longer distances. It includes different training programs depending on needs (color-coded red, white, blue and gold). It’s a book that’s good for beginners and experienced runners.
2) Make Sure Your Back and Shoulders are Strong
While there is no need to look like Arnold, you will need to do some strength training, with a particular focus on your back, shoulders arms and even hands . Certain obstacles, like Everest and Funky Monkey definitely require strength in those areas, and that’s why a piece of equipment we strongly advocate is a home chin-up bar. It’s fairly easy to mount above a door at home, and almost as simple to bang out some chin-ups and pull-ups as you pass by.
3) Strengthen Your Core
Your core consists of a variety of muscles, including your abdominals, obliques, lower back, pelvis and hips. Core strength is an important part of your preparation for the Tough Mudder as you depend on these muscles to pull yourself up, over and through obstacles. On top of this, core strength is important for the biomechanics of running, preventing inefficient running postures that can tire you further over distance. TRX is an established workout system (developed in the military) that uses gravity and your own bodyweight to workout your entire body. What’s great about TRX is the fact that most of the exercises work your core as well as the targeted muscle group. TRX is not the only workout program that we advocate, but whatever program you choose should involve a good deal of exercises focused on building core strength.
4) Plan Your Diet
You should consider this advice in three parts: 1) The training diet 2) The week before the event diet 3) The event diet. For your training diet you should eat real food, not processed powders. Carbs are of course important, but they should come from healthy sources like quinoa, yams, wild rice, beans and fruit. All the components of a proper training diet deserve an article or a book to themselves. We recommend Performance Nutrition for Runners from Runner’s World magazine as a it not only covers diet essentials, but includes tips for customizing your running diet to your own needs, strategies for maintaining your running diet while dining out and even gives you the skinny on sports drinks.
5)Get Geared Up
We encourage you to read our other articles on Tough Mudder Gear that you’ll need for the event itself, including bits dedicated to Tough Mudder Shorts and Tough Mudder Shoes. We won’t repeat all of our recommendations here, but if we had to advocate one thing in particular it would be good socks and good shoes. Get some shorts that don’t tear or fall off during the race, but once you have that checked off, spend the money on your feet. Your socks should be the quick drying, non-blistering type used by marathoners and other endurance racers. We are partial to Wigwams:
6)Remember To Have Fun
Once all of your preparation is done, have fun. Remember that is is not a race, but more of a social event that involves physical and mental challenges. It is definitely more fun with friends, so try to get some of them to sign up with you. If you want to get a sneak peak at some of the lessons you will learn during your Tough Mudder, check out the Top 10 Lessons Learned During a Tough Mudder.