September 18, 2013 by mybattlebuddyfitness
Over the past weekend, Mrs. Meany and I participated in the Tough Mudder – St. Louis. I have to admit, I was dreading this race for a number of reasons. I had just done the Bozeman Half Marathon the weekend before, so I was mentally raced out. And since I had been training for a half marathon for 3 months, I had not been focused on getting trained up for the Tough Mudder. I had not been strength training enough (at least I thought), and I hadn’t done any real trail running in a long time. Not to mention the fact that I was going to be doing this event with the lovely and talented Mrs. Meany. I’m not a lightweight by any stretch of the imagination, but she is a stronger athlete than I am. I figured I was going to be screwed.
So we drive up to Columbia, MO on Friday night, wake ourselves up in the morning to drive 45 more miles to the event, gear up, and get ready for our 11am start time. We get out to the race site and there are plenty of fit looking folks lining up: cops, firefighters, military. Strong looking people. There are a lot of big teams, groups of 8+ people with lots of dudes (which help when you are trying to get over some of the obstacles, or so I had heard). The whistle goes off and it is off to the races.
I would summarize the race in this way: 11.5 miles of trail jogging over hilly farmland in central Missouri, and every .75 miles there was some sort of obstacle that required more patience and strategy than strength. If I had treated this race as a true race, running for a specific time, not accepting any help from others, then it probably would have seemed TOUGH, it would have seemed challenging. It is true that I lack the sufficient upper body strength to pull myself over a 10 foot wall, but there were nice strong men there ready to give me a leg up. And I couldn’t do 15 monkey bars, which just meant wading across a pit of mud. But those were truly the biggest tests of true strength. The majority of the obstacles tested my willingness to get dirty. Hey, climb this mud mountain, now jump into this cold water, and now get muddy in these trenches.
I’d say that it does push your limits when it comes to fears (if you have them). I have real issues with heights. Major, serious issues. So the obstacle where you have to climb up and over 20 ft. of hay and then come down the other side was mentally no bueno. Or the obstacle where you climb up to the top of a platform that is 15 ft. in the air and then you have to jump off into water was terrifying, but not tough in any physical sense.
It was great to get outside and be in the sun and exercising for 3 hours. And it was great to do it with my good friend so we could both have some laughs about it. But was it so tough? I’d say that my half marathon was a lot harder, for sure. I hate being dirty, so running around and jumping into mud pits or being muddy was not my cup of tea. And running with wet and muddy feet is more annoying and frustrating than challenging. My personal opinion is that you can probably never participate in any of those adventure / obstacle races in your whole entire life and not miss anything. BUT, if you feel like you just have to try it to knock it off of your bucket list, this is my training advice:
1) Train just like you would to get ready for a half marathon. The Tough Mudder will likely be less distance than a half marathon, but it will have you ready to face being on your feet and running for more than 2 hours.
2) Get in some trail runs. You’re never going to be on a paved surface for one of these races, so you should get some time in on the trails to build up some of your leg stabilizing muscles. I wish I had a couple more runs out on the trails before I did this race.
3) Strength train at least 2 times a week for 12 weeks if you are not a regular strength trainer. Mrs. Meany told me I needed to get in some serious time doing pullups, so I did that for about 8 weeks, twice a week. While I couldn’t pull myself up all by myself, I was strong enough to only get a small boost.