When training for anything – not just a 12 mile, 19 military grade obstacle course – you want to make sure your plan progresses so that you peak at event time. Not before, and certainly not afterward.
Having said that, everyone’s plan will look different. When prepping our team for New Jersey’s Tri State Tough Mudder back in November we had to take a few things into account:
First, we all weren’t on the same conditioning level Some of us were athletes and trainers, others were more sedentary. And even though some of the team was more active, they were conditioned specifically for their activity of choice, which happened to NOT be the Tough Mudder.
Secondly, most of the team came into this thing with a ton of baggage. We’d need to iron out those kinks. As a team, we’re only as strong as our weakest link.
Finally, we had a very small window of time with which to move through a progressive training program. I was the last one of our team to register for the event, leaving us with about 7 weeks to get prepared. So, programming would have to be refined.
If you want to create the best training plan you can for your Tough Mudder preparations, be sure to infuse it with the following key components.
1. Foundation. Build your plan on a solid foundation. One that’s made of concrete, not sand. Here you’re going to shore up the prerequisite strength and work capacity deficits needed for the event. To prep this you’ll need an idea of which obstacles are going to be built into your locations event, as well as the total mileage. Tabatas just might give you enough of a gas tank to go 12 miles without ever running, but your joints need to know what 12 miles feels like before the day of the event.
2. Get Activity Specific. Most people I talked to at the event never moved past the foundational stage. Most never left the gym. And for many, it showed. You’ve got to get event specific. Pressing and pulling may be a great way to build your foundation, but you’ll need to get out there and crawl, climb and swing to really get a feel for the event. Mimic the obstacles as best as you can. In the end, it’s not about adding more reps to your bench, but adding more distance to your crawl.
3. Train For The Elements. Mental toughness plays a huge factor in this thing. If your event is going to be blazing hot, train in heavy gear. If the event will be freezing cold (as was ours), strip down to your scivies. Get wet, get muddy and get used to rugged terrain. A dry 12 miles is very different from a wet and soppy 12 miles. A good portion of this event is trained on uneven and unstable surfaces. Your training should reflect this.
4. Plan For Things To Go Wrong. Make sure your body is well versed in movement by creating a safety valve. Mobility, movement sophistication and joint integrity are huge factors in how safely you finish the event. The event is planned so that things will go wrong: buttered monkey bars, anyone? If you’re body is locked up and can’t move through it’s full range of motion, or if your nervous system is dumbed down and doesn’t know how to adapt when the unexpected happens, you increase the odds of jacking yourself up. Rest assured.
5. Build In Recovery. Having a solid recovery plan built into your training program will allow you to train harder and more often. It will allow you to optimally benefit from your high intensity sessions. It will also allow you to mitigate any potential problems from training bad technique or training too often. Not having a recovery plan built in will set you up to crash and burn at some point down the road. And hopefully, that point won’t be event day. A solid recovery plan will also allow you to actually get out of bed the morning following the Mudder.
To get a deeper glimpse into my train of though for my team’s training, check out my Jack In A Box Squat article and tutorial here.
If you’ve got any questions regarding training for the event, drop a comment below.
Also, stay tuned for my next Mudder article where I go over why you should not use the tough Mudder prep program on their site if you want to train optimally for the event.