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What a Tough Mudder Taught Me About Triathlon Training

I still get a tingle of excitement and satisfaction as I think back about the Tough Mudder race I unexpectedly did last weekend…it was that fun. The scenario went something like this.

Wednesday night – 

Our friends: We’re running the tough mudder this weekend!

Jess: How cool! If you’re running it, we are coming to cheer you on!

Fast forward to Friday – We find a campground nearby, make s’mores and camped for the night.What a Tough Mudder Taught Me About Triathlon Training |

Saturday morning – I wake up with a sore back. We headed over to grab a Firehouse Sub before our friends race start at 11:45am. Those are some big sammies. While our food digested, we made signs. 

12:15pm – Friend (at 3-mile mark): I’m cramping up, can you take my bib and finish with Pete!? Me: OK! …but darn, I just ate. At least I signed the waiver already! 

Here’s three things I learned about Triathlon Training from the Tough Mudder:

What a Tough Mudder Taught Me About Triathlon Training | TwoTri.comFirst off, what is a Tough Mudder? In case you’re not yet familiar with this event, a Tough Mudder race is 10-12 mile cross country run with all kinds of obstacles interspersed (about two for every mile or so).

The obstacles are military bootcamp style – so you can picture scaling over walls, climbing up ropes, crossing creeks, crawling under things, and of course, trudging through mud – lots of mud. (Or maybe you can picture bloody noses and compound fractures.)

(Also keep in mind that there are many other similar events with similar sounding names.)

So what does this have to do with triathlon training? 

An open water swim or running 13 miles after a 56 mile bike ride may seem like a huge obstacle, but before you know your up and over that wall. 

Getting the mental game ready. 

Most people let themselves get psyched out because the obstacles look so intimidating. An open water swim or running 6 miles after a 25 mile bike ride may seem like a huge obstacle, but before you know your up and over that wall and you did it. 

So, just go for it, and don’t overthink it. 

Stay ready because opportunities will come unexpectedly. 

In a Tough Mudder, as in a triathlon, you’re not just running the whole time. But rather, you have to be prepared for multiple obstacles and sports if you’re going to do well. For example, the first obstacle I came to was monkey bars over a mud pit, which required upper body strength. I was glad that I had been doing strength training workouts like this one. Similarly, if you’re strengthening your upper body and training to improve your endurance, your race day swim will be so much better. 

What a Tough Mudder Taught Me About Triathlon Training |

Build your distant and endurance, but mix in bursts of high intensity.  

A Tough Mudder is a mix of endurance with bursts of high intensity – jumping in and over eight mud pits, and then running to the next obstacle, for example. Add the heat of the sun and you’ll have an event that can test the stamina of anyone that claims to be in good shape. 

Endurance comes with the miles you put in, but don’t overlook your speed and interval training workouts. Those training sessions are where you build strength and speed. Try this workout.  

What a Tough Mudder Taught Me About Triathlon Training |

Don’t skip your strength training workouts. Seriously, just do them. 

My endurance wasn’t exactly up to par for this event because I had not planned on doing this race. But I think the key to me being able to do it was because I had a good base from my strength training. Strength training is not just one more thing that you have to do in your training. These workouts help prevent injury, improve flexiblity and range of motion and make you stronger. Check out our workout page for tons of great triathlon inspired strength training workouts. 

Posted by Trainer +Davey Anderson 

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Trainer DaveyTrainer Davey is an Orange County personal trainer at heart, but has since moved to Nashville and taken on the new challenge of triathlon training. Of course, he misses his home of Surf City...but Music City ain't so bad either!View all posts by Trainer Davey →