Tough Mudder Ireland is just around the corner now.
No doubt there are many who signed up with the intention to spend many months preparing. Somehow though, I feel there are quite a few of you who’ve yet to even start. Is that a problem? Hmmm…maybe. Is it a big problem? Nope.
In this piece, I’ll outline some last minute things people can do to best prepare themselves for this month’s big event. Fitness doesn’t come overnight, but you can still do a few things to better prepare yourself in just over a week.
If you’ve not been running much lately, fear not — you can become reasonably adjusted to it fairly quickly. This is especially true if you’re not completely new to it — it comes back to you quite easily. You won’t be fast after a week or two, but you will be able to run for a few miles without feeling too tired or heavy.
It has been exceptionally hot and humid in Ireland recently, and it looks like it’s not going to change much in the coming weeks. It is much tougher to run in this kind of weather, and training won’t really change that. That doesn’t mean that you can’t run in it at all though. It just means you’ll need to run slower or not as far. Running in this heat will give you added gains over running in our usual weather, so it’s worth getting out in it. It’s also good to be prepared for scorching heat if we get it on the day of the event. Of course, there’ll be plenty of water dunks along the way to help cool you down!
Try to get out for a run every second evening between now and the event. Aim to prioritise distance over speed, even if it means you have to go slower than you’d like. That’s not actually a compromise — that’s what we want to do. Longer and slower runs develop the aerobic system, which has a contribution to energy output at every intensity. That’s why it’s often referred to as the aerobic base.
Set out for a light jog, and when you get a little tired, walk for a few minutes. Then start jogging again. If you run roughly every second day between now and the event, increasing the distance a little each time, you’ll be fine.
You don’t need a lot of strength to get through a Tough Mudder. And that’s good to know because you won’t be able to develop much strength between now and then!
Push-ups and pull-ups are all you should be doing between now and the event if you haven’t been doing any strength training. You just want to be sure that your arms are primed for a bit of action on d-day. If you want to use gym equipment instead, substitute bench presses for the push-ups, and wide grip rows for the pull-ups. Variety is good for training, but as you’ll be manipulating your body quite a lot in a Tough Mudder, I say stick with the push-ups and pull-ups.
Every second day, do four sets of five to eight reps of both push-ups and pull-ups. Take two to three minutes rest between each set, and aim to do each rep slowly, with a slight pause at either end. You don’t need to go to failure when training strength, so it’s okay if you could have managed another rep. Developing strength involves training the body to recruit more motor units to help contract a muscle. It isn’t just about increasing the density or size of the muscle. Slow and controlled reps are what we want for the recruitment of motor units.
Unprepared hands are something that can spoil the party at Tough Mudder. Your hands won’t really come into much trouble at Tough Mudder, but the slightest bit of preparedness can make all the difference.
Throughout the event, you will find yourself grabbing and gripping bars, ledges, nets, and all that good stuff. If this is to be the first time all year that your hands are thrust into a bit of action, they may become quite scuffed. You may even break the skin, which will make further action a little stingy. If you do a decent amount of manual labour in your job, you probably won’t have any problem here. For everyone else though, it might benefit you to do a little extra work to help your hands.
If you’re doing any gardening work in this fine weather, perhaps try doing some of it without your gloves on to expose your hands to some gains. If you use a pull-up bar, wrap some duct tape around it to add a touch of abrasion to the grip, and also to help with your grip strength itself. Or drape a pair of tea towels over the bar and just dead hang from them. That’ll work your grip big time! If you’re using weights, use them without gloves. Any of these options might start out a little difficult, but this is required if we want to see growth.
Be careful on chrome pull-up bars in this humid weather. Your hands will be more slippery on them. That’s actually all the more reason to put a little duct tape around them over the next few weeks.
The beauty of Tough Mudder is the volume of camaraderie you’ll find on the course. It’s ultimately what Tough Mudder is all about. Tough Mudder is not a race. You don’t need to do much to prepare for it mentally. Any lack of mental preparation will be filled in by others on the course who will get you through it. You’ll be fine. The same mostly applies to the previous sections — if you’re not prepared, you’ll be fine. You’ll just enjoy it a bit more if you’re a bit more prepared, and it’s never any harm to be a little physically prepared for something like this. At the risk of sounding like a broken record — you’ll be fine!
If you feel you’re having to make a choice between training and enjoying the sun, choose the sun. You’ll make up any lost training time quite easily in the coming weeks and months. We don’t get weather like this often though at all though, so make sure you make the most of it.
Enjoy Tough Mudder! If you’ve not signed up yet, and want my take on what makes it a special event, here’s what I have to say about that. If you see me on the course, say hi, and I’ll tag along with you and your crew for a bit. And maybe I’ll put out another one of these pieces a day or two before the event for some very last minute event preparation tips!