I love Twitter. I love it because you can easily connect with tons of people who have the same interests as you! My new friend, Pat, is training for his first Tough Mudder obstacle race (similar to the Warrior Dash) and wanted to share what training looks like for him. Thanks Pat!
So You Want to Do a Tough Mudder?
For the uninitiated, a mudder event is a run combined with military style obstacles. They’ve grown in popularity over the last few years as people seek out interesting challengers and are turned off by the idea of just a 5K or a marathon. A “Tough Mudder” is the longest of these events that I know of, its 10-12 miles mixed with over two dozen obstacles. These obstacles range from having to carry a heavy log, swim through ice water, climb wooden walls, and running through electric shocks. Yes, I said electric shocks.
I signed up in February for an event in September here in Maryland. I’ve struggled to get strong, lose weight, and run farther. These are all my thoughts on how to set yourself up for success for this, or just get yourself in shape in general.
I use to look at fitness magazines, read up on the latest trends, and find the newest hottest workout routines. I’d get stronger, but I wasted a lot of time on exercises I now consider to be useless. Two years ago I was trying to get back into shape after recovering from a somewhat serious car accident (I’m fine, very lucky). While looking for a gym and a routine I settled on something that use to scare me, compound exercises. Compound exercises are big movements that engage lots of muscles at once. I use to do some bench press and leg press and then spend the rest of my workouts doing isolation exercises. For instance, numerous sets of curls, tricep pushes, and other movements that are meant to isolate one or two muscles. Compound exercises are things like bench press, squat, pull ups. Movements where huge portions of your body are engaged at once.
For the beginner they are great because you can choose a few good compound exercises, work your whole body and be finished with the gym in a relatively short amount of time and only a few days a week. Or not even go to the gym, if you’re really brand new to strength training many compound exercises can be done without any sort of weights or equipment. For instance: body weight squats, lunges, push ups and dips. For someone who has experience with strength training a more advanced routine could lead you to splitting your days between your legs and your upper body to work in more strength training days per week.
Take it steady, don’t go to the gym and try to set the world on fire the first day. Ease into it, let your body get acclimated to strength training and focus on making steady progress and over time increase the intensity.
I’m not a fan of running, but the reality of this event I’ve chosen is that its 12 miles. So, I gotta run. If you’re new to running or back after a long break the only thing I can say is, like strength training, take it steady. If you’re just getting off the couch for the first time, don’t try to run 3 miles. Maybe walk half a mile or a mile. Then the next add a couple of short jogs into your walk. Run a half mile one day and do that several times before moving up. Steady progress will let your cardio get in gear as well as your body, preventing injuries.
There are many programs available on the net, or apps on your phone, frequently called “couch to 5k/10k”. They are good guides to live by if you’re just getting into running.
If you’re training for an event that seems far away, don’t wait. Start training now so you never feel rushed. You don’t want to try to start training for a 5k or a 12 mile event with only a few weeks to go. Your body needs time to get in gear. Now get out there!
You don’t have to be thin to run or participate in a Tough Mudder, but losing weight has a lot of benefits. Burning away fat makes it so your body does not have to work as hard, makes you feel good and makes running less of a strain on your knees and feet.
When I started training I weighed close to 200 lbs. Now I’ve gotten down to 180 while getting stronger. I’m not a diet expert, I just know what works for me, so I’ve only got a few things to say. Here is a pretty common day of food for me.
Breakfast: Big plate of Egg Beaters. Your going to be running and strength training, so you need more protein. Eggs have a ton and I love Egg Beaters because you can have a huge plate with less than 200 calories. One cup makes a large amount and can contain 20 grams of protein. I love this stuff. Eat it almost every day and can be spiced up with tabasco sauce (“So much more than HOT!”).
Lunch: I grill a chicken filet the night before and make a salad. I bring an apple, a banana, and carrots. The apple, banana and carrots allow me to snack a little throughout the day without my blood sugar plummetting and then the salad is another protein boost without going crazy on calories. I don’t use salad dressing, I haven’t on any salad I’ve eaten for years. Some people insist I’m insane, but if the stuff in the salad tastes good I don’t think its necessary and it keeps the calories down. When I started strength training heavily I added in a protein shake, my personal favorite is Muscle Pharm Combat. Its only 130 calories and has over 20 grams of protein.
Dinner: Another grilled chicken salad with a small amount of noodles.
Anyway, nothing fancy and I didn’t get it out of a book. But I’ve found for me, light meals focusing on lean protein fuel safe, steady weight loss.
Two invaluable social apps I have used basically everyday since I started training for this event. One is a great tool to track your fitness and help you lose weight. MyFitnessPal is a mobile phone app available on Android and iOS, and also the web. You can use it to log all your meals and your running/strength training routines. Great app that helps you set an appropriate calorie goal and track your intake throughout the day. You can also add friends to keep each other honest. Great program.
I just discovered these this year while training for this event. It was life changing. A foam roller is a round cylinder made of foam about two feet long and maybe 8 inches thick. They can be purchased at most major athletic stores for $20 or so. They are a way of giving yourself a sports massage on your own everyday in about 10 minutes.
When used after a strength training session, they ease the burn and prevent muscle soreness and tightness. When used before and after running it does the same while preventing the heartbreak and agony of IT Band Syndrome, and believe me, you don’t want that. Seriously, if you’ve never seen them before you might look at it and think it can’t possibly do anything, but mine has been a lifesaver. Kim has a great post on them!
Thank you. If you want to say hi on the Twitter machine you can reach me at @Planeis. I love talking to people about fitness, comics, movies, TV shows, fantasy football… whatever. You can also check out my blog and short story page at and feel free to submit a short story in as little as three sentences.