When I look at my goals journal for 2017, the first entry is World’s Toughest Mudder. And in the section of what I need to do it says:
Train like a crazy person.
Although this pretty much sums it up, I thought it might still be a good idea to get into the details of what I did this year to hit 50 miles and what lessons I learned.
Running was the absolute base for my World’s Toughest Mudder training. At the beginning of the year I already had London Marathon and Berlin Marathon as well as Malta Half Marathon scheduled, so I knew I had to get proper Marathon training in. I then luckily also got spots for the Two Ocean’s Ultra Marathon, and the NYC Half and Full Marathon. I did not have a proper training plan, but I followed a simple, principle based strategy for my training:
- Run at least 45 km per week on average. (I totaled 1,800 km until the race, so this is 40km per week on average)
- Go and run with a group a few times a week. This will keep you accountable and will make training more enjoyable.
- Do intervals once a week. (Wednesdays)
- Do a long run or race on the weekend. (see next post)
Training races for me were absolutely crucial in my World’s Toughest Mudder training (read here why you should do them too). And with that I do not only mean the road races mentioned above, but more importantly trail and obstacle course races. In total I did the following races:
- Trail: 24km, 30km, 35km
- Tough Mudder Half, Toughest Mudder, Europe’s Toughest Mudder (8 hrs)
- Spartan Races: 2 Sprint, 1 Super, 1 Beast, 1 Ultra Beast (Edinburgh, 50km)
- Tough Guy
I could thoroughly test my gear (especially the wetsuit stuff) and my nutrition during Tough Guy, Europe’s Toughest Mudder and the Spartan Ultra Beast. And because all of these races plus Berlin and NYC Marathon were in cold, rainy and windy, it was a really good mental challenge.
This was probably the weakest part of my training. While I was still in London I did quite some strength training in the form of pole dancing, aerial hoop and circus conditioning. At one point I was even doing a ninja conditioning class, which was perfect. But when I moved to Munich I did not have the same variety of classes, and it took me a while until I was back in my normal training schedule.
I also took up quite a lot of cross training. This should help to train either my endurance or strength without the impact, or it should help my recovery. I have taken on spinning classes, Electric Muscle Stimulation and Bikram Yoga for this.
Cold water training
While I have incorporated the habit of daily cold showers already a while ago into my life (read my blogpost about the 9 benefits of cold showers), I also took on proper cold water training in the weeks leading up to the race as part of my World’s Toughest Mudder training. I would usually get up early in the morning, put on my wetsuit and go out for a run in the park. In the park I would jump into the local stream to get wet and cold, then run a bit, do some pull-up and repeat the whole process 3-4 times. The fact that it was dark not only helped with my mental training, it also made sure that not a lot of people saw me while I was doing this. (although I have video proof of it)
Although a lot of the things I’ve done to prepare for this race like the cold water training, or the various races in bad weather have also trained my mental strength, I have tried some other things to prepare mentally. I’ve climbed Austria’s highest mountain Großglockner (3800m) to get rid my fear of heights. I tried to learn how to jump from the 10m diving tower to help with the cliff jump. Although I was not successful on these (I still have fear of heights and I would not jump the cliff) I am proud that I have at least tried.
How I want to improve my World’s Toughest Mudder training for next year:
- Running. There is definitely so much room for improvement, especially when it comes to downhill trail running
- Upper body strength training. I need to do more pull-ups. A lot more! This should be a huge part of everybody’s World’s Toughest Mudder training
- Grip strength: This is absolutely crucial for 24 hours. I failed at that miserably this year.
- Food digestion: I need to learn how to fuel better to avoid tummy issues at 4 a.m.