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Tough Mudder is a 21km obstacle course, which will test your physical and mental strength and stamina. This year it takes place in Ireland on July 9th and 10th at Oldcastle, County Meath. Tough Mudder is more about teamwork and camaraderie rather than competing against other teams to get the fastest time. That being said, to enjoy the event and avoid injury it is important to train. You should get your body in top condition. When training, it is important to try and mimic the Tough Mudder conditions as much as is possible.
It is advised that you must be able to comfortably run 10 – 12km continuously. To train for Tough Mudder it is best to try a Fartlek style of training. This entails e.g. running for 2km at 5 min/km pace, following by a recovery period where you might run 6.30 min/km pace. Sprint training where you recover by jogging rather than completely stopping is also recommended. This helps your body recover more efficiently from sprinting/ hill running, while having to continue to move. It also teaches you how to sprint when tired and not fully recovered from your last obstacle. The running terrain of Tough Mudder will also vary from running uphill, running on grass and over uneven muddy ground. Trying to do at least one off road, cross country run a week will help prepare your feet and ankles to running on this surface and improve overall balance and proprioception.
Body weight exercises rather than doing free weights or using machines at the gym is the most effective way to improve upper body strength in a way that will simulate the obstacles. The Tough Mudder course blends lots of shopping and starting while performing strength movements such as climbing over a high wall or doing monkey bars while fatigued and out of breath.
Therefore, performing body weight exercises such as dynamic squats, burpees, and lunges, doing push-ups, tricep dips and pull ups, and only giving yourself a 10 – 15 second break in between exercise is the best way to mimic Tough Mudder conditions. As you get fitter and stronger, add kettlebells or medicine balls to simulate putting your muscles and body through difficult and dynamic strength workouts. Tough Mudder requires functional strength to lift yourself over walls, carry a log, or slither under barbed wire. Whatever type of training or circuit you do, intensity is key. You must push your body during each workout to overload it and therefore cause it to adapt.
Whatever you do on the day, make sure you enjoy it and remember that the main goal of the course is to work together and get through it as a team. If you are too tired or do not want to complete a certain obstacle there is no shame in skipping it and running onto the next.