Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tough Mudder Training: 5 Weeks Out

We just finished our third conditioning workout for the Tough Mudder and it was tough to say the least.  Today we completed 11 obstacle stations repeating the Wall, Over/Under, and Crawling stations an additional time.  So overall, we started with a 1 mile run and then ran an additional 700 meters after every obstacle.  The obstacle stations were as follows:

Monkey Bars:  45-54 bars in a row without stopping.  Since we're using my kids playset, this required a lot of stopping and turning.  Additionally, we've banned the use of momentum and everyone had to grab each bar with both hands.  Its harder, but will help us get up the inclined monkey bars on the Tough Mudder Course.

The Wall is an unforgiving master.
The Wall:  We added another board to the top so its now at 7 feet.  Everyone, including all the women were able to get over the wall without assistance, getting a hold on the top is the only challenge.  Well, aside from the bruises and wood burns all over our calves and thighs.  Important point to make here, your body does toughen up to bruising over time.  Not only learning to climb these walls, but have our bodies get used to the abuse will make us more successful and less banged up on race day.  I'll be honest, this thing kind of scares me.

Agility:  This station is challenging in its execution, but is meant to improve our coordination for jumping and landing and improve our knee and hip strength in multiple directions.  Injury prevention is important and a lot of injuries happen simply from landing badly.  This week, we lined up three tires with some space between and jumped in and out of each tire both laterally and forward.  We then did the same moving through an agility ladder.  By the end of five rounds, I was definitely moving slower and running afterwards was horrible.  But, probably a lot like running through mud.

Over/Under:  This is one of the most annoying and exhausting obstacle types on the course.  It just wears you out.  To copy this at home, we simply built a fence and the goal is to climb over it and then climb under it.  We'll probably add another segment with a board about chest level for pressing up on and swinging our legs over.  At the Tough Mudder, this will take the form of a lot of logs at differing heights and who knows what else.  At the Warrior Dash, it was a series of fences, and then a series of dumpsters.  Which was way more exhausting than I was willing to admit.  Except that I had to because I had to walk between that obstacle and the next.

Bruises from my first attempt at the Wall.
Crawling:  We combined both bear crawls and knee crawls up the hill in the backyard.  Not only are we building postural endurance for crawling, we're toughening up our shins and knees as well.  Again, these will take a beating on the day of the challenge.  Not that I necessarily want callused knees, but they need some toughening up.

Balance:  We walked across 3 2x4's elevated on bricks holding kettlebells overhead.  The overhead weight essentially raises your center of gravity making balance much more challenging.  We'll probably change this up a bit in the coming weeks as I think I saw a balance challenge at one of the Mudders that required walking on the two-inch side of the board.

Prowler:  This thing is pure evil.  Just is.  It sits there on the grass looking all light and shiny, but then you start pushing it.  And, "hey, its not hard, I can push it a little faster."  This is the flawed thinking that gets us every time, down on our knees, trying not to throw up.  The prowler is a great conditioning tool, but be careful it doesn't seduce you into jogging up the yard only to end up in a gasping heap on the grass, trying to make the sky stop spinning.

Dirty cheater.
Rope Climb:  We're getting better at these.  Chalk and gloves weren't helping us, so being the dirty cheaters that we are, we got some Spider Tack.  This is basically a sticky resin that makes your hands sticky.  Strongmen use it for lifting atlas stones, Highland Games throwers use it when they throw the hammer.  It greatly enhances grip and we need all the help we can get.

Well, the good news is that my right thigh did not get as badly damaged this week, but since I climbed over the wall unassisted and had to roll my calf over the top, it is turning black as I type.  I believe my right thigh has toughened up a bit, I hope my calf follows suit.

Other than that, it was exhausting.  The cooler temperatures helped a lot, but fatigue is fatigue.  However, we worked for almost three hours.  Our goal for next week will be to complete the same course with a longer run at the beginning and do it in less time.  Sounds crazy, right?  Well, it probably is.  But, we'll be adding distance and obstacles each week until October 27th when we find out how tough we really are.

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