If you’re planning on taking a mud run, you should also plan on some tough training beforehand. Tough mudders can run as long as 10 to 12 miles, with plenty of heavy duty obstacles along the way. No matter what kind of shape you’re already in, training for a tough mudder can help ensure you have what it takes to make it to the end of the course.
Tips for Training for a Tough Mudder
Tough mudders can be a lot of fun. They can also be an extreme challenge for those that aren’t prepared for the obstacles, or the length and scope of the event. While every mudder is slightly different, with some geared toward women, some toward extreme athletes, and some open to everyone, the pace and obstacles are still grueling.
That’s why implementing a serious training regiment, or following an exercise program months before the event can be such as a plus. While you may spend an hour a day at the gym, running on a treadmill or using some Nautilus equipment is not going to give you the same experience. This can translate into slower reaction times, injuries, or more than your share of falls into the mud. A training program that is dedicated toward working for a mudder will increase your stamina, shorten your reaction time, and help prepare you for the challenge.
There are many different programs out there that can help you train for a mud run. Many of them are geared toward the fitness level you’re currently at; start at the level you know you are and increase when ready. You’ll know it’s time to complete the mudder when you can get through the most advanced training sessions without any issues.
To help maximize your success in training for a mud run, there are several tips and tricks you can use to help ensure you make the kind of progress that will translate into a successful finish.
While it’s easy to train for a 10 or 12 mile long race by simply increasing your mileage every few days, mudders are different. While a large part of the race is dedicated to running, the rest of it is made up of obstacles that will challenge every major muscle group in your body. That’s why interval training can be so important.
When you interval train, you spend no more than 1 or 2 minutes on each exercise at a time. That’s approximately how long it will take you to get between the obstacles, and then get through them. So a typical interval training circuit may move from the upper to the lower body and be interspersed with plenty of cardio. This will get you into the best possible shape for your run.
Pick Up Speed
As you start training for a tough mudder, you’ll do many of the same exercises again and again as you work your way through several different circuits. To maximize your benefits and ensure that you’ve mastered each circuit before moving on the next, make sure you focus on your speed. Once you know the circuit cold, and you can perform the exercises without stopping, begin speeding them up. Go faster and faster each time you do the same circuit. This will keep the circuits challenging so your muscles don’t adapt and stop you from getting the maximum benefit.
Run Around Obstacles
On the days when you go for a run as part of your training program, don’t just run in a straight line or on a treadmill. Instead, go to a park or a fairly developed area and try running around some obstacles. Jump up on and over benches, scale some ladders at a park, dodge in and out of parking meters, or run up and down a curb. Remember that the mudder is filled with various obstacles that you will have to take at a run, and that in many courses the areas between the obstacles themselves are often hilly, filled with rocks, pot holes, or ditches that you may need to conquer. Running solely on pavement is not going to prepare you for the challenge.
Cross Train Effectively
Mudders are each very different, with varying obstacles and sections to get through. Circuit training and running around objects can help, but you can’t guarantee that they’re working every muscle group in the way you’ll need it to be to get through the course. That’s where cross training comes in. Once or twice a week, try doing something different like taking a Pilates course or a yoga class. You’ll work muscles in new ways that can assist you later, and stretch and revive any muscles that have gotten overworked during your other training. This will help to prevent injuries and other issues from occurring during your training program, or during the mudder itself.
Train in All Weather
Remember that your mud run is going to take place outside. Many mudders take place in the summer heat, but some are in the cooler days of spring or fall. All involve copious amounts of water and mud, and if it’s raining, you can be sure the run will still go on. So skip the gym on the days when it’s rainy or humid and get outside to workout instead. Take sensible precautions, such as dressing in light clothing that won’t get weighted down by rain and mud, and that won’t cause you to overheat in the sun. Get used to running on wet, slippery paths by jogging through the park or the woods on a drizzly day, and don’t use the weather as an excuse for why you can’t train that day.
If it hasn’t rained in a while, or you don’t live near an area where you can train on some muddy or slippery ground, practice sliding around right inside your home. Do things like lunges or skaters while wearing your socks, or do your mountain climbers with your feet on towels or pieces of printer paper if you’re on a carpet. This will help you learn to keep your stability and balance in all kinds of footing, so you’re better prepared for the mudder.
Take Time to Warm Up and Cool Down
Warming up your muscles before any training session makes them more elastic and less prone to injury. Make sure you do fluid warm-up stretches that move the body and start to get it a little heated before you begin any training exercise. Once you’ve completed your workout, spend about five minutes cooling down. During the cool down time is when you should do any static stretches to help prevent your muscles from getting too tight. If you do find yourself getting tight, consider taking a course in using foam rollers to help release your muscles.
During your circuit training, try to limit your rest periods to about a minute between the various circuits so you give yourself a chance to recover, but can still keep the momentum going.
Training for a tough mudder is a long, grueling process that can take months to complete. Once you find yourself out on the course and having the time of your life, however, you’ll find that it was all worth it. Sign up for a tough mudder boot camp, take some exercise courses, or just circuit train on your own. Mud runs are not for the weak or for the untrained. Make sure you put your time in practicing each technique on a regular basis until you can get through them with speed and agility. In no time, you’ll be running through your tough mudder and aiming to beat your own personal best.