Tough Mudder 2013 | The Year Of The Global Explosion

Lately I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Troy Pesola who is a fitness fanatic that lives and works in Colorado. He’s the founder of Cube Dweller Fitness where he writes about fitness tips to help us cubicle dwellers get and stay in shape so we can enjoy all life has to offer. Troy kindly offered to write a guest article for noeXcusefitness, which I am sure that you will all enjoy. Here is Troy’s article on three key aspects in preparing for a tough mudder.



Tough Mudder, a perfect excuse to run. I hate running, but when you put obstacles, mud, and water on a course of over 10 miles (18-2okm) then you get a perfect excuse to run. This adventure race is sweeping the globe inspiring people to do more then just run a 10k. But how can you possibly train for a Tough Mudder. Here are three key aspects in preparing for the Tough Mudder.

Tip #1 – Amp Your Conditioning

The Tough Mudder is a different type of race, it will require you to exert yourself in both aerobic and anaerobic exertion. You’ll need to amp up your cardiovascular system to get from one obstacle to the next, – trail running. But the obstacles require body strength to perform anaerobically. The overall goal of the Tough Mudder is to finish not win a race. Run this event with a group, or just make a group as you go. Help each other out.

There’s a benefit to helping others in this event; it gives your body small recovery periods. As you alternate between running and battling obstacles your different systems both engage and recover. And that … is key to remember in your training. You need to amp your conditioning by delving deep into interval training.

Tabata Interval Training

Interval training comes in many forms, but one form that should become a staple to your training diet is Tabata Interval Training. Tabata training is a form of interval training that has been proven to increase both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning in just 4 minute workouts. While studying this form of training the group using Tabata intervals was compared to another group training with typical cardiovascular training for 60 minutes. The Tabata trained group experienced better results – in less than 10% of the time.

To get started with Tabata Interval Training check out my new eBook 10-Tabatas. This book will walk you through background on the training, help you ramp up your intensity, and lay out 10 different body weight interval workouts you can put to use. Amp up your conditioning with Tabata Training.

Interval training amps up your conditioning, both your aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. The key to remember here is this improves your recovery time. You’ll be able to run, do those obstacles, and recover quickly. Perfect conditioning for an event like the Tough Mudder.

Interval Running

Tabata training is a very high intensity form of training, but it isn’t the only method to amp your conditioning. Another method is interval running.

Don’t run for 60 minutes straight at the same pace, find ways to mix up the intensity. Two great ways to do interval running are running hill sprints, or mixing running with body weight exercises.

Hill sprints are simply that — find a hill, sprint up, then walk or jog back down. Rinse-repeat. Running hills builds your legs and amps your conditioning by pushing your body well into the anaerobic zone. Here’s a quick video of me running hill sprints while being sand-blasted at the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado.



Interval running with body weight exercises is another way to amp your conditioning. My favorite combination is run – push up – run. Set a timer for 3 minute work periods and 1 minute rest periods. Then start running. At the end of the 3 minute run, drop and do a set of push ups, finish the rest period, and start running again. It’s a simple format, but will really amp up your conditioning.

The other advantage of running hill sprints is you can take this workout with you. Check out how I’ve used hill sprints creatively to fit training into my hectic schedule:

Get creative with different types of intervals and different intensities to amp up your conditioning in preparation for the Tough Mudder.

Tip #2 – Get Specific with Sport Specific Training

Once you amp your conditioning the next thing to consider is how to get specific in your training. Now you want to train with sport specific training for the obstacles. Everyone is different, so your training will vary. But … there are two basic skills that will be used over and over during the Tough Mudder — pulling your self up and hanging from stuff.

So … increase your hang time by Training for the Tough Mudder Monkey Bars. The Funky Monkey is one obstacle that schools even some of the most in shape competitors. The obstacles requires you to hold on tight to wet bars and make your way across a water obstacle. If your grip slips – you get wet, again.

To train, focus on pullups, chin ups, and bar hangs. Spend time on the bar; and increase your hang time.

Don’t let the sound of doing pull ups or chin ups scare you. These are two excellent body weight movements that are worth taking time to master. You can learn how to do pull ups and chin ups. Take your time, and scale up until you can do it. The more time you train your grip and your ability to do both pull ups and chin ups will help you overcome many obstacles in the Tough Mudder.

Tip #3 – Get Decked Out with Proper Equipment

Once you’re in shape for the Tough Mudder the next question is What to wear?

The proper equipment for the Tough Mudder will vary slightly based on the temperature of the specific event you are running. All events will force you to face water that is near freezing even if the air temperature is quite warm. Be prepared for the cold. The key here is avoid cotton at all cost.

Regardless of the air temperature you want to be able to dry out quickly and let your body breath. Cotton is terrible; instead choose quick wicking material that will dry quickly. Compression shorts and a compression shirt are excellent choices.

If the air temperature is cooler consider adding a neoprene hood and some gloves. Remember that you lose a lot of heat from your head; donning a neoprene hood for the water obstacles can help you retain essential body heat. The Mad-Grip Gloves continue to get rave reviews from Tough Mudders and at roughly $10 a pair you can hardly go wrong. These gloves give you some insulation and grip.

But no discussion of Tough Mudder equipment can be had without mentioning footwear. There are many opinions, but after extensive research I’ve found the Ultimate Tough Mudder Footwear in the Inov-8 X-Talon 190 shoe. This is a lightweight trail shoe that offers some amazing grip for the mud without being considered cleats. The sidewalls are mesh so the water drains out quickly. These make my list of essential gear to get decked out for the Tough Mudder.

3 Tips to Prepare for the Tough Mudder

So sign up for a Tough Mudder, then remember these three tips to training: amp your conditioning, get specific with sports specific training, and get decked out with the proper equipment.

Then get ready to have a blast facing the muddy challenges of the Tough Mudder obstacle laden adventure race.


About the author:Troy Pesola (aka troyp on twitter) is a fitness fanatic who lives and works in Colorado. He’s the founder of Cube Dweller Fitness where he writes about fitness tips to help us cubicle dwellers get and stay in shape so we can enjoy all life has to offer.


  1. Niko, Thanks for letting me help out with some Tough Mudder info on the site.

  2. Thanks for this! I just signed up for Tough Mudder coming to my area this September and have started “getting in shape”. I know 3 months isn’t a long time and I probably won’t hit my goal by then but, I’m going to run the event in whatever shape I am in. I am documenting my entire, daily process here: I have never really excercised or watched what I ate. Typical American. Now, as I’m getting older, fitness and personal health are taking a front row priority.

    • CJ,
      Great to hear that you are on the road to health and fitness, a Tough Mudder is an awesome goal to have and is definitely attainable. As you would be aware the aim of a Tough Mudder is not to win the race, but rather to participate in and complete the event. I checked out your blogspot, very inspirational mate. Make sure you keep us posted on your progress.

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