A few days ago I shared that I’ll be doing my first Tough Mudder…lawd help me! Luckily Eric “ERock” Botsford, Tough Mudder‘s Trainer and Warmup Emcee has provided me with some excellent tips on getting prepared. The Nashville event will be a 5K but I think these tips will work great for anyone training for any type of sport competition.
What’s the number one piece of training advice you’d give a newbie that’s training for Tough Mudder virgins?
When training for a Tough Mudder, people often forget that you are not only training to conquer the obstacles that are out there, but also the 10-12 mile run that goes along with it. A lot of people focus on the obstacles and forget that there is a fair amount of running as well, so it’s important to incorporate a healthy dose of both endurance and strength training into your regime. Whenever you can, get outside and train, whether it is in your local park or you head out on the trails, it is beneficial to run on the terrain that you will be likely participating on. Tough Mudder events are about teamwork at the end of the day, so train with a friend or partner whenever you can to keep each other accountable and motivated. The motivation of having another person there will help guarantee you get to the gym or get outside to get the workout in.
Do you think beginner runners could run TM? How many months before the event should I start training?
Yes, beginner runners can absolutely run in a Tough Mudder – you should start training ASAP. With the right training, preparation and mental grit, we believe nearly anyone can do a Tough Mudder. If you’re on the fence about doing the 10-12 mile Tough Mudder Full, or if obstacles with ice cold water or electricity aren’t your thing – we get it. We’ve recently introduced the Tough Mudder Half, which is a 5-mile version, designed to provide a more accessible challenge, without some of the more daunting obstacles you may have heard of. This is a great opportunity for those new to endurance sports or on the fence about the Tough Mudder Full.
Trail running is a great way to prepare for Tough Mudder because the terrain at events is nothing like running on pavement or the treadmill. Keep in mind that you’re not training for a marathon, and it’s totally okay if you walk between obstacles; you’ll have plenty of time to rest between obstacles, so work on your sprints and interval running instead of focusing on grinding away on long distances. One of the great things about Tough Mudder is that it’s not a race, so take time in between obstacles to talk with your team, get to know and give a helping hand to fellow Mudders, and rest so you can conserve energy to enable you to finish the course and crush the obstacles.
Finally, don’t forget about that upper body strength as well. Not only will you need your legs to carry you, your grip strength is needed for many of our amazing obstacles. Find a pull up bar and get to work.
How many days a week should someone training for TM workout and what should be their focus?
The golden number I go by for training is 3x per week. You can do more than that if you’re comfortable, but don’t jump into a fitness routine that’s too extreme because it’s easy to overexert yourself. Giving your body time to recover is just as important as training. Take the time to rest, recover and rehydrate.
Make sure you create a training schedule (the Tough Mudder website is a great place to start) and stick to it. You’ll want your training to including a healthy dose of endurance and cardio training, and weight training. It’s easy to focus just on the running, but don’t forget that those obstacles are no joke. Make sure you’re physically prepared; factor in moves that strengthen your grip, upper body and core as well. Check out Tough Mudder’s training guides and online workout videos for weekly and daily tips, as well as obstacle-specific moves to help you prepare for the course.
Let’s say someone doesn’t have a gym to workout in…what type of exercises can they do at home? Bonus points if it utilizes children for additional weight. 😉
You don’t need a fancy gym membership or expensive workout machines to train for a Tough Mudder. Get outside, run, do sit ups, play with your kids, carry the groceries in from the car, do dips on a park bench… That’s the best part about training for a Tough Mudder. Whether it’s Tough Mudder or Tough Mudder Half, they’re so much fun on event day that you should make training for them fun too. Your basic body weight exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, dips, pull-ups, etc. are some of the best exercises you can do. Train creative, have fun and try something new.
Strength and endurance seem key to rocking TM. What types of workouts are best to help boost both strength and endurance?
The best kind of training for Tough Mudder or similar events is to do movements that are obstacle-specific. There are a few Tough Mudder obstacles where grip strength is important, like Funky Monkey – The Revolution, so I recommend heading to a park or playground to practice on the monkey bars. You can do a variety of exercises to increase grip strength, like pull-ups, chin-ups, tricep dips, and even moving across the monkey bar laterally or backwards to mix up your routine. For an obstacle like Everest 2.0, where you’re running up a slicked quarter-pipe to reach the top, box jumps are a great way to train and build the momentum you’ll need.
There are tons of exercises you can practice at the park using basic playground equipment. Bring a few friends and get a good workout outside.
What obstacle(s) do people struggle with the most? Tips?
The unique thing about Tough Mudder is that it’s impossible to say which obstacle is the toughest. For someone who’s afraid of heights, Everest 2.0 might seem really daunting, but for someone who has less upper-body strength, Funky Monkey 2.0 or Skidmarked could be really challenging. Sometimes it’s the mental grit that gets to you more than everything else. For obstacles that require grip or upper-body strength, do obstacle-specific movements that mimic those obstacles. Work on strengthening your back and ‘pulling muscles’ as many of the obstacles require good upper-body strength. Moves like pull-ups, dumbbell curls, Dumbbell Rows and push-ups will strengthen your arms, chest, lats and shoulders.
Let’s talk about Electroshock Therapy. Is it as intimidating as it looks?
The Electroshock Therapy obstacle is one of our most popular and infamous obstacles. Electroshock Therapy is the final obstacle before the finish line, which requires less physical strength and a lot of “Mental Grit”, something that Tough Mudder is known for. That being said, it is still incredibly safe and tends to be one of the obstacles people rave about the most after they complete a Tough Mudder. Nothing says ‘bragging rights’ like being able to say you’ve run through live wires charged with 10,000 volts of electricity. Obstacles like Electroshock Therapy are the epitome of Tough Mudder’s motto, “escaping the ordinary” which encourages people to get out of their comfort zone and try something new. Not into electricity? Check out Tough Mudder Half, which leaves out some of those more daunting obstacles yet still packs in plenty of Tough Mudder thrills. You’ll finish any of Tough Mudder’s events feeling a huge sense of accomplishment, and you’ll earn an ice cold beer, a coveted Tough Mudder headband and a performance finisher tee from our presenting partner, Merrell.
Any diet recommendations for training?
Proper nutrition and hydration are crucial to finish a Tough Mudder. Make sure you are fueling your body with the right foods prior to event day. Eat clean proteins and fats, but don’t cut out important carbs. Get rid of white bread but be sure to fuel up on things like brown rice, sweet potatoes, plenty of water and electrolytes – you’re going to need it when you come up on challenging obstacles like Everest 2.0 or Pyramid Scheme, presented by Merrell. Also, make sure you are drinking plenty of water. It is easy to forget to hydrate when you’re jumping in and out of mud pools and your caked in mud, but to keep from cramping on the longer runs and tougher obstacles, it’s crucial to make sure your hydrated. Don’t be afraid to stop at the fueling stations on course for a quick rest and to recharge.
A note to the wise: Training harder is not an excuse to eat whatever you want. Nutrition is critical and you’ll need that energy on the course, so make sure you’re eating foods that nourish your body.
It can be either stifling hot or freezing cold in June when TM is in my state. How do I prepare for the possible temperatures, especially with a very wet and muddy course?
My favorite shoe to train in are the Merrell All Out Crush because they’re designed with a specific purpose – a purpose to crush it on the Tough Mudder course, while draining water quickly and shedding mud to maximize your grip. Merrell also has a great line of apparel for men and women that is ideal for your workouts, whether it’s trail running, hiking or a work out in the park, they’re my go-to brand. Once you do your first Tough Mudder or Tough Mudder Half, you’ll get the coveted Merrell finisher tee, which is great for training or taking on your next event. The lightweight tee features Merrell’s M Select™ WICK technology to combat sweat and dry quickly – perfect for forging through water, barbed wire, and rugged terrain.
It’s always a good idea to train in similar gear as what you plan to participate in. You don’t want to train in baggy or cotton based clothing as those are some of the worst things to wear during a Tough Mudder. The baggy clothes will weigh you down as soon as you get wet and muddy, and the cotton won’t dry keeping you cold and wet throughout the race.
*Disclosure: I will be provided with passes for Tough Mudder. No other compensation will be given.*