Mudder Nation: are you prepared for the Fire, Electrocution, Rope Swings & Ice Baths?

Posted in running on March 8, 2013

Sometimes running just isn’t enough. Off road and adventure races are increasingly popular. Personal trainer Geoff Clement talks us through what it takes to make it through a Tough Mudder race.

You’ve probably heard about, know someone who has done it, or perhaps even read a few column inches in the papers about it. Tough Mudder has been designed to test your physical fitness, strength, stamina and mental grit.

Tough Mudder – it’s tough and muddy…

For those out there that are actually willing to commit thoughts to action and are prepared to throw themselves at what is regarded as “the ultimate” off-road/adventure race come mud bath that is Tough Mudder, you better equip yourself with the facts first!

1. 10-12 Mile Assault course developed by the best in the business – British Special Forces.

2. Multi terrain course: Fields, Concrete, Tarmac, Woodland, Rivers, and Bogs, not including 20-25 custom made obstacles.

3. Rope Swings, Cargo Nets, Fire, Electrocution, Ice Baths, River Crossings, Monkey Bars, 12ft Walls… you name it, this course will most probably have it. Did I mention electrocution? 10,000 Volts to be precise! Shocking!

If you are training to complete a Tough Mudder event and think you are going to complete it with relative ease because you can ace a half marathon with a degree of ease, then think again! Cardiovascular conditioning is a significant element, but not your only concern. This course will challenge your body to climb or crawl over, under, around or through various obstacles whilst at the same time coping with some tricky terrain and the mental doubt of “can I complete this” ringing in your ears.

As having completed the very first UK Tough Mudder event I know only full well the preparations required to complete it. For a start you need a plan of action. As the quote says, “a goal without a plan is just a wish”.

Forget L.S.D (Long slow duration) cardio, it’s all about the use of sprints, hill sprints, and bi weekly long runs for overall conditioning.  It is important to then focus on increasing functional strength and agility using push-ups, pull-ups, dips and squats – essentially compound exercises utilising multiple muscle groups at once.

Ideally you want to picture the event in your mind, the obstacles involved and they types of terrain you’re going to encounter. Use the videos out there as part of your plan for how you are going to train and hopefully conquer this extreme event.

“Ideally you want to picture the event in your mind, the obstacles involved and they types of terrain you’re going to encounter”

When training for this event you will need to think outside the box a little. Fundamentally, endurance, grip strength, power to bodyweight and flexibility/agility is what’s required. The way the courses are set up, they are designed with a stop start pattern. High intensity exercises, followed by well spaced runs through varying terrain often grinding to a complete halt in preparation to make that pass on the balance beam!

When formulating your plan of action don’t forget to try and stick to a hybrid type workout whereby you tag explosive weight training such as kettle bell swings/presses with short and sharp sprints, possibly even with a weighted back pack for extra authenticity! As I previously mentioned the stop start nature of this event demands that you are well versed in using high-energy demands followed by short rest periods. Adapting to this scenario will only stand you in good stead for Race Day.

Remember having a decent level of fitness to start with is great. As a minimum I would suggest being able to do a straight 5/6 mile run non-stop in a fairly decent time. However it will be those event specific skills that you will need to hone that will enable you to hang, climb, lift and balance your way across those tricky obstacles that will make you a contender to finish and not just another statistic or casualty that didn’t complete it! Good luck!

The Finish!


If you would like some focused training for a Tough Mudder or similar race, get in touch with Geoff here.