Dee Fitz Talks Tough Mudder Training
by Dee Fitz
Summer has officially landed and there has never been a better time to combine two of life’s greatest things. Exercise and the great outdoors.
With the Irish summer producing all kinds of endorphins in its own right, couple it up with some outdoor exercise and you’re in for a winning combo.
That’s why Tough Mudder couldn’t have come at a better time!
I’m delighted to have teamed up with The Complete Natural to run it with my teammates and bring you some of my essential training tips along the way.
First things first..Obstacle races are no joke. I learned that the hard way when I took part in my last one. Underprepared and over confident left me for dead at the first hurdle, so I’m adamant that this time round things will be different and here I’m going to share with you some of my top tips that will help you prepare for a successful race day too:
- An efficient training plan.
Building a training plan around what we know about the race will be our biggest asset.
So what are the four basic aspects that we know about race day…
- We know that we will have to run
- We know that we will be in and out of water, so wet clothes will be wearing us down
- We know that our legs will be tired from trudging through mud, sand and the uneven surfaces.
- We know there’ll be obstacles on route to challenge our mental and physical strength
So let’s ask ourselves, how can we put together a successful training plan to meet the needs of the day and what kind of exercises can we do in and out of the gym to best mimic the circumstances we will find ourselves in?
Well here’s a good place to start:
– Treadmill sprints: Varying between inclines and intensities to prepare for hilly and more taxing areas of the course
– Prowler runs: 20-30m prowler pushes (bursts of high intensity followed by recovery period).
Beach runs: These will condition the legs and prepare us for the fatigue that we will inevitably feel from running on uneven surfaces
– Bear crawls: forwards and backwards, using a resistance band for extra burnout. These will get the body comfortable in the crawling position.. One we know for sure we will find ourselves in on any commando course.
– Famers walks: varying the weight and tempo. This will mimic the feeling of heavy legs which we are sure to experience in the latter stages of the race.
– Squat jumps: there’s no burnout quite like a simple squat jump, great for cardio, no equipment needed and an excellent finisher for any workout.
- The Obstacles
Preparing for the obstacles can be made easier by simply checking out past events. If we know what is being asked of us we can prepare accordingly so using the sources available to us online is key but one thing we know for sure is that being able to carry our own bodyweight efficiently will stand to us over obstacles like monkey bars and rope climbs where the arms tend to take quite a beating.
Some upper body strength exercises that I would add into my training plan would be:
– Pull ups: These can be assisted with a resistance band if needed. If you can do pull ups, you can do monkey bars. This will be 100% come into play on the course.
– Push ups: working on upper body and core strength. No equipment needed and a staple of any training plan
– Bent over row: working the lats, rhomboids, delts and traps to name a few. This exercise gives you a great bang for your buck and is a must in any back training regime.
– Triceps dips: Add weight on your lap for extra strength gains or go for standing dips if at a more advanced level.
You can only train as hard as you can recover. Remember that a smart training plan is a good training plan and a good training plan is one that sees improvements in strength, fitness and keeps the body supple and injury free. Recovery is an incredibly overlooked areas of training. My best advice is to invest in a diary and plan your training week. Write all of your sessions down and place higher load/higher intensity days away from each other in order to give the body the time it needs to recover between sessions.
In addition to a well laid out training regime, manage your sleep – it will be the biggest asset in your recovery kit. While we sleep we repair. There is no specific number that suits everyone but aim for a good night of uninterrupted sleep, whatever that might mean for you, given your lifestyle. This may mean giving up that 4pm cup of coffee as its stimulant properties can stay in the body for up to 7 hours. Caffeine can be a great pre workout stimulant but it comes at a cost when taken in the evening as it promotes alertness. Don’t jepordise a good night sleep for a good session. If you need your caffeine fix before a work out, train earlier in the day. We want to be productive in our training plan, not counterproductive.
Of course, nutrition and training go hand in hand. When you eat well, you feel well and you train well. With so much contrasting nutritional information available to us online it’s easy to over complicate things and fall victim to fads diets rather than facts. Choose your information sources wisely and when it comes to potentially eliminating food groups take advise from nutritional and healthcare experts.
A balanced approach towards nutrition has always been the most effective for me. Some points to consider are :
- Opting for healthy carbs like potatoes, rice and pasta rather than refined carbohydrates are always a good choice. These will maximise your performance and allow you to train at higher intensity levels for longer.
- Eat enough protein to allow for muscle repair and recovery. Sources like chicken, turkey, eggs, milk, Greek yoghurt, chickpeas or edamame are ideal, many of which are inexpensive and easily accessible.
- Healthy fats found in fish, nuts, seeds and dairy are vital for proper cell and hormone function. It is also interesting to note that fat provides the main fuel source for long duration, low to moderate intensity exercise. (Think endurance sports such as marathon runs or longer obstacle races
It’s finally race day! You’ve done the training, you’ve put in the hard work, you’ve eaten a high carb meal the previous evening and now race day is upon us. It’s natural to feel nervous, everyone on the course will be going through similar emotions that day too, you are not alone. With a bit of luck you will have gotten a good night’s sleep but if not don’t stress, the adrenaline of the day will keep you going.
Nutrition: Wake early and eat a good breakfast three to four hours before race time. This will give you enough time to digest your food and supply a solid energy source for the race. Again, don’t overcomplicate things. Eat the same thing that you would eat any other day. Personally I would go for porridge with milk and fruit or a bagel with butter, banana and yoghurt, but that’s just my preference. Race day breakfast should be no different to any other day.
Gear bag: DO NOT..I REPEAT..DO NOT wear your best gym gear. If one thing is certain it’s that your white runners will not be returning the same colour. Dress for practicality, rather than fashion. A supportive running shoe with tight laces is essential. Mud and water will take their toll so make sure your runners will withstand the pressure, 10-20km with broken laces won’t help you on race day.
Pack a towel and a full change of clothes.. something warm and cosy for afterwards.
Camera.. don’t forget to take some epic photos with your mates, you’ll look back on them with fond memories in years to come thinking of that time you were mad enough to take part.
Last but not least… Enjoy the day! As cliché as it sounds these races aren’t about winning, they’re about taking part and testing your physical and mental limits. Be proud of your accomplishments, know that with every physical or mental challenge that we face comes personal growth. You will leave the event a stronger person than you went into it, so regardless of how tough it gets try laugh through the pain, remember that you can do anything you put your mind to and find comfort in knowing there’ll be a beer waiting for you at the finish line!
Dee Fitz, MMA | Boxer | Personal Coach and Ambassador for @thecompletenatural. Follow Dee on Instagram @deefitz05 for workout ideas, motivational posts, straight talking fitness advice and Dee’s adventures..