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Tough Mudder Training


I am starting to train for a Tough Mudder event, an obstacle course event. The event is in the Spring of 2012. I would like some suggestions from ya'll about training. So here is some background.

I am 57 yrs old, 5'10" 210 BF @ 19% with an athletic background, a former long distance runner who came over to the dark side and began weight training about 3 years ago after some serious back and shoulder surgery. I currently lift 4-5 days a week and run 3-4 miles 3 days a week. I am not real worried about the cardio/endurance phase as have been blessed with that part of the equation. What concerns me is the upper body part of the obstacle course, ropes, monkey bars, etc.

I am able to do fairly heavy lifts, bench, presses, deadlifts, squats, but just cannot do them as frequently as my younger friends. I usually hit each area hard once per week. 4 sets 10-12 reps. Any suggestions to converting to a more balanced core/strength training regime for this event?

Thanks in advance.



Awesome Watty! Have you done any of the other offroad obstacle runs? I am 42 and just did my first Warrior Dash in early June. Had a blast! My only real struggle was the long uphill run at the very beginning of the event. I am not really a big runner and live on the flatlands so the uphill smoked me pretty good. I am going to do another WD in Sept with the goal of doing a Tough Mudder before 2012 is over.

I don't have a good feel for how the TM obstacles compare to the WD stuff, but I think if you make sure you are incorporating pullups into your routine a couple of times a week on top of your current lifting you will be fine. I saw and or heard

Because I don't have any good long hills to train on in my area, I have begun doing tire drags a couple times a week as a substitute. It's a little early to say whether it has helped me or not. I will let you know after my Sept run.


Living in New Hampsa, hills ain't a problem. One must look for special places WITHOUT hills to run. The pull-up suggestion is a great one. I am doing this event with my son and his wife, they are both into the wall climbing thing, in fact he is an instructor; and my daughter and her boyfriend. A real family thing...pretty cool.

The one thing I am regretting is I had 'massed-up' pretty good for an old guy....but have had to reformat the ol' bod for this event. Still the weight training has been a God send for me since my injuries.

Thanks for the suggestions.


My race is this weekend and I injured my knee this past February and I'm rehabbing the other. Currently I'm able to do 3 minutes run/3 minutes walk for 30 minutes no problem in addition to hitting the ellipitical hard for 50 minutes.

The race will take roughly 2.5 hours per the site and is 10 miles long.

I'm not a long distance runner by any stretch so it will be a test of will for me. The team I'm doing it with has been doing weekly runs building up to being able to run 8 miles the week prior. The course is on a ski resort and we live in an area with ONE hill that is probably an elevation of maybe....150 meters.

I can't say for certain how ready our team is. They just did stairs this past sunday (I had class) and all of them are pretty gased.

I myself focused on what i could (elliptical due to lack of knee pain) and stressed upper body as when I started training in January I could barely do one pull up. Now I'm probably closer to a solid 5-7 dead hang pull ups. Hopefully this will be sufficient for the race.

You've got plenty of time so building up a running base should not be an issue. The past 3-4 months I've been doing cardio mwf with weight trainign T/Th, specifically changing to this pull up program when i came out: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/programs_for_the_pullup_deficient

Here's to a injury free race!



Good luck. Enjoy the experience. The toughest thing I found out when training for endurance events was getting tho the start line healthy.

I think I might try this training program........err...not.


Hey wattydaddy,

Tough Mudder isn't all that bad if you're into that sort of thing. I've done two within six months of each other and finished both. The first one I did was in NJ in Nov. of 2010. It was cold... The second one was in VT in May. It was also cold...and we still had snow too.

It's all about mental grit and the will to finish. Around three miles in at the VT Mudder my foot sank into a hole and I ended up breaking two toes on a rock, but I still finished. Cheers to those of us who run in Vibram Five Fingers I can honestly say those were two of the most fun times in my life, and both times I was soaking wet, cold, sore and tired (and literally broken in VT) during both events. They're a complete blast all around.

When I was preparing for the NJ Mudder I stuck to my regular weight program at the time with some non-specific cardio thrown in now and again. For the VT Mudder I hadn't been able to train for months because of an injury that led to a surgery which happened only six weeks prior. My point is that you don't need to do anything specific except enjoy yourself, unless you're trying to qualify for World's Toughest Mudder. In that case I have nothing for you. I never finished fast enough for that.

The only things I'd watch out for are:

  • The Berlin Walls, as they are a real ball crusher if you don't get up and over in a hurry.
  • The monkey bars (forget the name), because they're greased and once you're half way your frozen fingers start to slip. (I'd like to point out that even though I failed that obstacle in NJ, I cleared those bastards in a hurry in VT :] )
  • Anything involving a descent on a steep incline. That's how I broke my toes.
  • All water obstacles. Be prepared for your balls to enter your throat and your muscles to shit the bed. Get in and get out. It sucks. You'll know what it feels like to be lit on fire once you come out if it's anywhere near as cold as it was in NJ and VT.

All that aside, I hope you enjoy yourself and can finish and earn yourself that cheesy orange headband.


Damn Watt Daddy thats some hardcore training... My gym did a very similiar training camp for the Run Ruckus..Im glad I found this thread. I did run Ruckus last time it was here in KC. It was about 25-30 obstacles over 4 miles. Had no problem with the obstacles but all the running did me in. I gassed out way too early. Its comming back in March and Im determined to beat my old time. How do you train for the endurance side of this kind of stuff? Do you recomend running it bare foot since thats how you train? How much running & how? Nice mustache maybe I'll grow one :slight_smile:


same boat here....training for TM in 6 months from now.

for anyone who has done this before, they say completion time is around 3 hrs. our course is 12 miles...which mean keeping a constant pace of 4miles/hr including obstacles. This seems high to me, anyone else?

should i be capable of running 12 miles before i start the race?


I'm going to do one of these in the UK in may, looks like great fun, I feel a bit stupid now seeing as I started a new thread about it yesterday when this was here first.

Good luck with your training and race!


No the obstacles give you a break in between for running. I think if you can run 5 miles at a time without much trouble you should be fine. I believe that's what they say on the TM site.

I'm planning on doing the NorCal TM in September. It looks like a blast, and my birthday is that weekend. I'm a little hesitant about putting up $100 for an event this far out though.

I don't think finishing the course is that bad, but I think to really dominate the course people who just lift weights will really need to focus on some training they may not usually do... long distance cardio, bodyweight/core/plyo stuff. Most of the obstacles don't seem that physically demanding though and it's more mental, but even then you know it's designed to be safe so it shouldn't be too bad.


I did tri state in november. Like dude said, it was cold. My training wasnt anything special. Kettlebell complexes, barbell complexes, medicine ball wall tosses, standard weight training with short rest periods, and some cardio thrown in. I could give a shit about my time, just did it to do it. if you are in decent shape you can complete it. the major show stoppers will be potential injury and the morale sapping repeated water obstacles, at least in november. If I could retrain for it, i would do more cardio, and wear less clothes. full length compression under armor and running a half marathon soaking wet dont mix. i shivered for miles. the ice tank will suck the air from your lungs immediatley. im suprised they are still running them. they closed off the water obstacles in jersey for the later heats. right after i went thru the last one probably lol. good luck.


Which one did you do Frank? Saturday or Sunday? I think my bib number was 1801 or something like that. I lost the damn thing on the trip home. Pissed me right off.

I ran in UA compression gear too and I felt fine. lol And I liked the whole thing. I think I'm a bit of a masochist in that way. That's the only reasonable explanation I can think of to explain why I'm dumb enough to do it again and run on broken toes.

  1. I ran Sunday. If you run my bib through brightroom Im in a couple shots. The cold just really got to me. I felt great miles 1-7 or so. Once the sun got obscured the shivering set in and thats how I ran the rest of the race. I couldn't shake it. Im fairly lean, and I bet that has something to do with it. THat plus Im a pussy. I agree that not everyone seemed as miserable and cold as I was. Including chicks. Tough mudder I am not apparently. Whatever, I have a headband, tshirt, and cool picture to show for it. I'll do it again for sure.


I'd say you're a Tough Mudder then if you finished.

It was sunny all day Saturday, so that's probably why I didn't feel so bad. And I'll admit I was rocking a little bit more body fat than usual. I found that stopping was what made me feel worse, so I made a point to not let my team stop much until the end.

Did you get hosed off at the end or just pass on the freezing cold fire hose bath? My team and I opted out of that and drove home muddy. lol

How'd you do on the greased up monkey bars? I was so pissed that I got up the first half but slipped on the way back down.


I've done a few of these races. Generally pullups (I prefer them on rings, a lot easier on the elbows) and handstand pushups will cover upper body preparedness. When you run do so on trails. And don't forget to squat and do good mornings.


Just found this thread, a bit late. I'm doing the Mudder here in GA on Saturday. I ran the admittedly easier Down N Dirty in October (5K) and it was a blast. My girlfriend did the TM last year, so I know what to expect (I was recovering from a back injury). We're both doing it this time around.

I didn't really add any additional training other than my normal workouts, five days of lifting, two days of cardio, per week. I increased my running a bit, but I'm no distance runner, so I didn't go crazy with it. Maybe 3-4 miles a couple times a week. My cardio conditioning is above average, and I had no problem with the 5K DnD, I could have run a second time. By far, enduing the COLD while WET is going to be my biggest challenge. 31 for a low, and 58 for a high with partly sunny predicted, so it could be a LOT worse.


Completed the 2012 Georgia Tough Mudder on Saturday 2/11. 3.5 hours in 12 miles, 42 degrees with a 20 mph wind, gusts up to 50 mph. More than a few dozens were pulled off and treated for hypothermia, some were air lifted out. The hardest thing I've ever done in my life, by far. The first mile, you get completely submerged in slushy ice water, you can't catch your breath with a 'wind knocked out of you' feeling, and you begin to panic as it feel like your heart is going to stop. They almost had to pull my girlfriend out because she panicked and froze up in the water. Now you have 11 more miles to go.

There is no training in the world that will prepare you for the cold and wet in frigid temperatures. You're totally exhausted, and muscles cramp and seize...at the end it took ever bit of effort just to keep going. It's 100% mental toughness, no amount of physical preparedness will get you through it.

I'm not sorry I did it, but I don't think I'd ever do it again, at least not in those conditions.


Do you think that if the air temperatures were warmer/there was less wind, the course would have been more accommodating?

I ask, because I am scheduled to do the Mid Atlantic in early September. VA/DC/MD areas are rarely "cold" at that time of year. I'm guessing the temps will be in the 60's.

You didn't do a ton of running (I don't plan on doing much more to train than you, running-wise) - Did you think you should have done more when you were running the course?


The cold and wind were absolutely the determining factor in making it so difficult. It would have been a challenge regardless, but the cold made it virtually unbearable, at least for me.

At mile ten, there was a backup at the "ring's across water" (Hang Tough) and a wait of about 20 minutes in the cold wind. The standing around and waiting while freezing zapped whatever energy I did have, and I never recovered after that. It made the rest of the course (two miles) miserable.

I wouldn't have done any additional running to prepare, I felt very good with my running and overall performance. If you can comfortably run 5K, you'll be fine.

February means 'bulk season', so I'm probably carrying 10-12 pounds more than I would be in the summer months. Being a bit leaner would have definitely made the bars and rings easier, but with fingers you couldn't feel, and muscles that felt frozen up, I don't know that it would have made much of a difference.

I think the people who would do the best are the lean, 160 pound agile 'body weight exercise for hours' pseudo-gymnast types, of which I am not, nor do I desire to be. But in the end, it really is about mental determination more than physical strength and endurance.


Video from Saturday's event - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJZU9COPTkA&feature=youtu.be