I've signed up for the September Lake Tahoe Tough Mudder event, and just started seriously training for it, meaning not doing random "play" workouts that I usually do. I'm fishing for some training recommendations.
I ran 3.2 miles today in about 40-ish minutes, and stopped at the 40 minute mark cause I got bored. It took me about 5 minutes to recover (breath-wise) and I didn't feel energy-less or worn out, or winded. This is coming from a guy who never really runs to "run." In general, I'm fairly apathetic to running. I absolutely refuse to do it on a treadmill, outside is tolerable, and trail-running is pretty fun, albiet, I'd still prefer to do something else. I was surprised that I ran 3-ish miles, considering I didn't feel tired at all. I figured that this is an okay place to start?
My normal physical activity: I haven't done much weight training except random bouts of breakdancing that I usually do. Recently, it hasn't been very consistent (practice is more fun with friends, and friends are kinda low right now). I also just came back from a month-long trip in Europe; tons of walking.
Metabolically, I've always been fairly healthy, Paleo has just made it superbly easy to maintain a pretty good physique (and fitness, kind of). I'm not Martin Berkham ripped or anything, more like a well-balanced swimmer (I did swim competitively before, was a sprinter; that was the last time I REALLY pushed my body to an unhealthy limit, bout' 5 years ago).
I'm somewhat afraid of the "hitting the wall" deal. I don't carb-load, and my total intake of carbohydrates hardly passes 100 grams a day. I eat well, not a celiac, but no grains (except the odd white rice), no dairy, and no legumes (not much in asian-cooking anyway). Nuts as garnish, ceheats are rare, and I'm pretty militant about keeping gluten out.
Besides continuing to do dance, and perhaps mentally forcing myself to run...any suggestions? Exercise hacks? Does the "hitting the wall" deal happen? Maybe even diet hacks? This just turned into 26.67 sub-questions.
I'm actually working on an article about "Adventure Race" training (tough mudder, spartan race, etc.) so this topic has been on my mind.
(Note: A few weeks ago I did a 6.5 mile mud run with about two dozen significant obstacles and was able to put up a competitive performance so I'm not talking completely out of my a$$.)
First off, you want to train as specifically as possible.
Looking at the obstacles involved in your particular race (http://toughmudder.com/events/norcal-tahoe-2012/) you can see that the general skill involved include:
Cold water immersion
Running and swimming through water/mud
Climbing through tunnels
Crawling on your stomach under obstacles
Vaulting over walls
Climbing/running up challenging terrain
Climbing rope nets
Balancing on small rails
That gives you about 8 specific areas on which to focus your training. Obviously, some of these can be combined (i.e. running/swimming in water + cold water immersion) and some may need to be approximated (i.e. if you don't have access to a rope net, you can likely find an indoor rock wall/climbing gym that will let you train the same basic movement patterns and develop the requisite conditioning).
However, focusing on the obstacles is only half of the equation. As you have already acknowledged, some "forcing" yourself to run is absolutely essential. While there are 28 obstacles during your run, each of them will likely only take a few minutes to accomplish. The rest of the time is going to be spent running 10+ miles over some rather treacherous terrain (muddy, pot-holed, uneven). If you can't run 10-11 miles without obstacles, you can't really expect to do it with them.
I would suggest looking up some local hiking trails, MTB trails, or other outdoor running opportunities. Start putting together some routes and gradually increase the mileage each week leading up to the event. You can even look for opportunities to incorporate "obstacles" into your run. Running near a river? Run through it! Running by a park bench? Vault over it! You get the picture. Also, be sure to train in the type of shoes you will wear to the race and eat for the race the way you eat while you train. An event such as this isn't the time to experiment with "carb-loading" or anything novel.
From my personal experience, running a this type of race with minimalist shoes (in my case vibram five finger bikila's) was ideal. Many participants were losing their conventional sneakers in the mud (as well as other things like shorts and even a wedding ring). I also recommend wearing some good compression type shorts under your running shorts as well as quick drying clothing in general.
You still have over three months to train for this, and if you begin now, that provides ample opportunity to gradually increase the duration/intensity of your workouts as your fitness improves. Assuming this happens, you should feel confident on the day of the event that you will accomplish your goal.
Tough Mudder Update.
Just completed Tough Mudder Lake Tahoe this weekend!
Training ended up being lots of bike riding around Santa Monica, LA, the traveling rings, along with plenty of dance, and random pull-ups and push-ups throughout the day. Also stretching every night.
Best decisions ever:
Full-on Paleo. No macronutrient ratio tweaking. Just ate saturated animal fats, protein, vegetables, fruits, and some starches. Ate what I was craving or felt like. On Peat's recommendations, I added more fruit, and dialed back starch. Worked for me, maybe not for everyone. No dairy, and made it a point to avoid PUFAs and wheat. Come Mudder day, made it through with some water, and one or two bananas (which I may have not even needed). No nasty gels, gummies, juices, protein bars, or shakes. Had awesome energy before, during, and after the race (I did stop to walk sometimes, uphill). One guy said the gummies/gels were an obstacle in itself, due to the amount of chewing, and gross taste.
Heatgear longsleeved compression underarmor shirt. Kept me cool during the hot runs, but weather may vary in other locations. Long sleeves kind of protected me when doing crawls and stuff.
Worst decisions ever:
Vibram-KSOs (sorry * cringe *)- The most difficult part of Tough Mudder was my dumb footwear decision. Lots of jagged rocks, loose rocks, little pebbles; ever step was a nightmare. Mile 3-4, it was sorta like a vigorous massage. Mile 8-10, I wanted to strangle someone. KSOs were super comfy and great, no water logging...just not for rocky trail running. Most of my energy drain was here. Perhaps another type of Vibrams would suit better. I saw alot of trail running shoes.
I wore jammers (kind of like competitive swimwear/ compression shorts) + short running shorts. Better decision would be to wear heatgear underarmor compression leggings. Protects your knees in some of the obstacles.
Take it or leave it:
Gloves- I don't think it would've helped that much. I saw alot of gloves being ditched along the way.
Additional training that I should do for next time:
More running, (but I absolutely hate it). So I'd say, more sprinting. I could've run 2-3 lbs leaner, but that wouldn't make too huge of a difference, imo.
Much more uphill training. I hated the uphill runs.
Overall, not terrible; not winded afterwards, and not really even sore. Considering I was banking my entire ability to finish it on Paleo...not too shabby a deal, eh?
Tough Mudder Progress Update
Run: 2.0 miles in 25 minutes. 6/4/12'
Run: 3.2 miles in 40 minutes. 6/9/12'
Run: 4.2 miles in 40 minutes. 6/12/12'
Swim: 2 x 500m on 7-8 minute intervals. Individual medley sprints 4 x 100m, 4 x 75m, 8 x 25m.
5 miles in 52 minutes. 6/15/12'
Random breaking/bboying power move practice interspersed. Lot's of crab positions, and rotating movements on hands. Still want to incorporate pull-ups and maybe some random jumps and climbs, like FED suggested. Also, I stretch every night.
Not bad, I have to say. And I haven't even started training with friends. Thanks for the advice!
The advice is to be comfortable running 5 miles. Although the obstacles may not take that long, waiting for your turn to tackle them will. And with all the mud and everything, the running challenge really isn't comparable to a nonstop 12 miles on the road. Practising the higher intensity stuff, strength while tired etc. will be valuable. Sound like you have good stuff for working upper leg muscles - definitely work on pull-ups/push-ups. You'll be pushing yourself up off the ground etc. a lot and you'll want to still be able to hang on after a lot of that stuff. Go to the park and abuse the play equipment/bleachers/fences by climbing/vaulting over everything.
If you're used to eating <100gms comfortably you should be pretty comfortable for the race - for you there is no wall. If you're nervous, you've got time to thrown in the occasional test day where you can stay fasted and try and stay active. Every activity you can think of so you don't get bored. Give yourself confidence that you can still do stuff at the end of the day before even eating.