Last year a few friends from my Crossfit gym did the Warrior Dash race. In costume. It's a fun event but not really challenging for someone like me.
The mud runs have become very popular. There's Marine Corps Primal Challenge series, Savage Race, Iron Mudder, etc. They all offer their version of obstacles, mud and running.
Someone at the gym found the Tough Mudder races. This race seems a little more interesting to me because it is longer. A 12 mile course is not to be take lightly. Almost a half marathon's worth of distance plus some tough challenges along the way. Not something that many people can simply show up and hope to finish.
I plan on doing Tough Mudder if the finances come through. Being a triathlete and endurance athlete first and foremost, there are a couple of road races on the calendar that come first. There's only so much money to spread around for race entries.
Yesterday, a small group of friends who are doing Tough Mudder headed over to The Next Level Training Center in Tampa. Home to Crossfit Tampa, this gym offers free training for Florida Tough Mudder racers every other Saturday. Brilliant marketing strategy. Good way to pull in new athletes to their gym. Only a few of the 30 athletes at the workout already had a crossfit gym affiliation. Most were people who had done a shorter, Warrior Dash style event and were looking to step up to a longer, tougher event. A few had no fitness background at all.
I was curious to see what they would consider vital training for this type of event.
AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) in 60 min (40 min for the beginner level)
800m run (on grass if you did it as rx'd, many people who bragged about their rounds were running on concrete)
200m weighted Prowler push in the low position (3 person teams alternating who would push)
400m tire carry (any way you could carry it as long as it was above your waist)
100 rope undulation (we did the double version at the beginning of the video)
200m lateral skips
Tire thrusters (do a deep squat, thrust/throw the tire over your head as you stand up, walk to where the tire lands, repeat for about 150ft)
For me - 1.5 rounds in 60 mins. Could have made it a little further but there was confusion about whether we were going to stop at 40 min or go for the full 60.
My group fell apart fairly early so I had to team up with another lost soul for the last Prowler push. But I made it. Tried a compression calf sleeve with pretty disastrous results. My calf cramped up during the last 800 and continued to cramp off and on for the next 10 minutes. I'll keep my compression socks for recovery, thanks. However, I did like the design of this particular sleeve because it has slits for ice packs.
What I liked about the training was alternating between heavy pushes or weighted running with normal style running. Also the direction for people to run on the grass whenever possible, even though most people ignored that. To me, that is the big challenge of Tough Mudder. I can train someone to complete 12 miles worth of trail running but stopping/starting over and over again with short periods of intense muscle activity will take it out of you.
Things that make me wonder: no emphasis on training up the running volume during the week. To be fair, the gym didn't offer to give you a free training program, just a valuable opportunity to practice the heavy lifting/running cycle. Not a lot of people have Prowlers or spare tires to throw. On the other hand...my group ran 8 miles in the am before heading over for the training. We are all training for fall marathons and are not giving up those races for Tough Mudder. Plus, it made our day very similar to what will be expected on race day. In very crossfit fashion, the leader of the workout made fun of us. Not a good marketing strategy if he's trying to add endurance athletes to his gym.