Regardless of your fitness level, running the tough mudder is always a good idea.
What is the tough mudder?
Describing it as a race is not just limited, it would also be wrong. In fact, no one is timing you.
It is, more than anything else, an experience of 5k or 10k with challenges of varying difficulty, which will push you out of your comfort zone and put a strain on your cardiovascular stamina, strength, adaptation to different temperatures and in many cases your ability to work in team.
Although it sounds scary, it is one of the best things to try if you are a fitness fan.
Do I have to train before I can participate?
A minimum of training before the competition is recommended. Especially if you have not lifted your buttocks off the couch in the last month.
The tough mudder requires some physical preparation. Nevertheless, that does not mean you have to be an Iron Man to participate.
Many of the obstacles can be tackled the easy way or the hard way or avoided completely if you cannot do it for a personal reason. Others must be necessarily faced in pairs or in teams. However, it is not necessary to join a group, because the atmosphere of the tough mudder will lead you to meet people during the way who, like you, once dirty with mud, wet and out of breath, will pray to see a hand extended beyond the obstacle to get themselves up.
What obstacles are there?
Each edition is different. The organizers change or introduce new challenges periodically, just to prevent the run from becoming too comfortable. However, the types of obstacles are almost the same. There will certainly be walls to climb over, trenches to climb, 1 meter high mud pools to cross, pools of frozen water to swim, monkey bars to grab, logs to carry or exposed electrical wires to avoid (I'm not kidding).
What do I need to train specifically?
• Cardiovascular Endurance
It is obvious that you need to have a decent cardio capacity to be able to run the tough mudder. Although it is not necessary to run continuously and, regardless of what distance you choose to run (5k or 10k), my advice is to start early enough to grind kilometers to get your legs used to long distances and arrive decently prepared for the day of the run. Very often, it will be necessary to wait in line to face the obstacle, so it will be possible to catch your breath. In addition, once you have overcome the obstacle you will enjoy an adrenaline rush that will give you bonus energy.
To train for the tough mudder, my personal advice is to run outdoors, to accustom the body to acclimatize during exercise and have an experience that is closer to what will later be the tough mudder. Try to choose paths with varying gradients.
Many challenges involve the use of strength, especially in relation to your body weight (or that of your partner when you have to carry him/her on your back for about twenty meters).
For this reason, I advise you to train push-ups, pull ups, jumps and clean and presses if there are logs to be lifted. It is understood that core training must be another point to focus on; otherwise, all the above compound exercises are useless without a solid core.
One other thing that needs special attention, and that most people do not think about, is grip strength. There will certainly be monkey bars to cross. Training the grip strength is often neglected, both because it is boring and because people don't know how to do it.
There are many ways to train grip strength, one above all is hanging on to the bar (perhaps at the end of your workout) and doing sets to exhaustion. One minute suspended is already a good result.
• Coordination and Balance
Some tests require a good deal of coordination, balance and proprioception.
Training with the slackline is certainly a fun and effective way to improve all these skills at the same time. It is also useful for improving dynamic balance and learning how your body weight is distributed.
Some other challenges require team coordination or coordination and strength at the same time.
Power is nothing without control. It will be soon clear to you once you see big men failing at the monkey bars. A correct progression technique, combined with a good dose of strength, will get you to the other side.
• Thermal or Electric shock
The freezing water tank is a must in every edition. Once immersed, it's like getting punched in the face (luckily never got one, but I think it's quite similar). Fortunately, when I ran the tough mudder it was a very hot and windless day. Once out of the tub, having the cool clothes on was very pleasant. However, it must be considered that England is rarely sunny. Diving into a frozen pool when it is already cold outside could be a traumatic experience. However, tolerance to cold can be trained, for example taking the last 30 seconds of a shower with cold water could help you get mentally prepared for the tough mudder day.
Tolerance to electric current no, it cannot be trained. The only advice I would like to give is to take into consideration that if caught by the micro shock, the muscles could involuntarily contract and cause you to lose balance. Yes, I know, it sounds horrible said so, but it is funny to see the terror in the eyes of those who are about to face the electrified obstacle.
• Play team
Team play is often essential to overcome the obstacle. As already said, it is not necessary to join a group since once in the mud, for some strange reason you all help each other.
This experience can be used to consolidate an existing group such as office colleagues, client group of personal trainers or simply friends who want to challenge themselves.
Many companies offer it as a recreational moment during extra working hours. It could be a good way to clear the office hierarchies and see your boss in trouble asking you for a hand.
So why is it a good idea to run the tough mudder?
Personally, I believe that the tough mudder is something that you absolutely have to do, regardless of whether you are a fitness enthusiast or not. It is a way to challenge yourself. After this run, you will certainly have a clear understanding of your weaknesses and potentially work on them. Stamina, physical strength, coordination, balance, adaptation to heat and cold and the ability to work as a team are all trainable skills.
The tough mudder is a challenge (not too serious) with yourself.
Then… the photos they take of you during the run are fun and will be an indelible memory. See below.