How to Train For Tough Mudder in 6 Months

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I’m assuming the fact that you’re even reading this means that you’ve signed up for your first Tough Mudder, or at least thinking about it.

What you need to do now is plan your training, what you’re going to wear and take. 

As I write this, I am an official Tough Mudder, having completed it yesterday (May 4th 2019) with a great group of friends.

The good news is, it’s all right here. So grab a drink (preferably a nice cold glass of water), and let’s get you ready for it…

If you need to ask, the answer is YES!

The chances are, you aren’t as fit as you think, and especially if you are taking on the full (Tough Mudder Classic), which consists of about 25 gruelling obstacles over 8-10 miles, you will need to look at some activities to get you Tough-Mudder-ready.

So what should I be doing, and how long before?

Depending on your current level of fitness I would start training at least 3-6 months beforehand.

I would focus on three main things:

  1. Cardio
  2. Stamina
  3. Strength (Mainly Upper-Body)

Let’s have a look at each of those ares, and show you how to train for Tough Mudder;

Cardio – Tough Mudder is hard, mentally and physically, and your body will be tested. Ideally, sign up to some fitness classes. It doesn’t really matter what but something that involves a range of movements. Here’s a few examples of what we did

    • Fight Fit – Boxing-related fitness class
    • Spin Class – Spin bikes in a High Intensity workout
    • HIIT Class – Full body HIIt class (20 seconds on – 10 seconds off)

If you can’t do these in a class there are some great, free YouTube videos and apps you can download and do at home.

The main goal is to get your cardio level increased and also improve your overall body strength, flexibility and recovery.

Stamina – Whether the 5k or full 10 mile Classic, you will need to be able to run or at least jog, and not just on flat ground. While there are many ways to improve your cardio, you may as well do what you will be doing on the day – run. So get off the sofa and run. Start with a jog down your road, then around the block, and then further afield. Aim to be comfortable running a few times a week, and a good few miles each time. If it helps, run with a friend, or even a group. There are some great groups you can run with, often at your local gym or village hall, or look out for a Park Run and try to better your PB (Personal Best) at least every few runs. If you have some hills near you, even better – Tough Mudder is not on a nice flat athletics track. Do some hill runs, or just take a cross country jog that includes some hills.

Strength – Most importantly, Upper Body strength. A lot of the course involves using your arms and arm muscles to push and pull you across the obstacles. In the gym or at home, do some workouts. Don’t just focus on your upper body, but make sure you include some specific training, such as chin ups, pull ups, monkey bars, lat pull downs, bicep and tricep exercises. You will also need to strengthen your hand grip. 

Tough Mudder Team Work
Image: toughmudder.co.uk

Do I Need To Enter As A Team?

You don’t have to, but I would strongly suggest it. As I mentioned earlier Tough Mudder is physically and mentally challenging. Having a team to both train and complete the course with is hugely beneficial. You will be training to the same goal, hopefully together. Each of you will have different levels of abilities, strengths and weaknesses in various areas, so training together enables you to motivate one another, the strongest in one area can push the weaker and you should get to where you want to be together. 

Come up with a team name, get some t-shirts printed or decide on a funny outfit, get in the mood for it as a team. 

The experience is incredible, and there are so many people helping each other, complete strangers, and it’s almost one big team, but having your own team means you know you have a group of friends you can rely on, push each other through, wait for the trailers and catch up with the sprinters. 

What Should I Wear On The Day?

The most important thing is to be comfortable, but you also need to consider all the different situations you will encounter on the day, from running, up and down hills, shimmying through pipes, swinging across rope and bars to pulling yourself through ice-cold water.

Bear this in mind while you do your training and try on different clothes, borrow some leggings from a friend before buying your own.

I wore the following (Links to get your own items are added in the descriptions);

Don’t be surprised if some or all of what you wear gets damaged, so if you have some items already wear them, or just spend carefully as you may have to dispose of some. I did get a couple of tears in my top from barbed-wire, and my trainers got absolutely caked in mud.

I wouldn’t change anything I wore, even though I was freezing cold for the second half, but if I wore more I would have probably been colder as they would have been wet. I removed my gloves after a while as I couldn’t warm my hands up enough, but luckily I wore shorts with zip pockets to put them in.

We all brought a full change of clothes, including trainers (don’t forget spare shoes!), a towel and a plastic bag for the wet/dirty clothes.

There was a Bag Drop which is only £3.

Is it safe to bring an Action Camera and Fitness Tracker/Smart Watch?

In a word – Yes, but refer to the section above. Nobody can absolutely guarantee they won’t get damaged.

I personally took my GoPro action camera and Apple Watch Series 4, which both performed perfectly, with no damage whatsoever.

I wore my GoPro on a head strap, no additional covers or cases as it’s waterproof so was fine fully submerged. The battery only lasts about 2 hours so I was careful what I recorded over the 4 hours of TM – but I got a few different run sections and pretty much all of the obstacles, and, of course the Start and Finish sections!

I made sure my Apple Watch was fully charged for the day. I set it to start tracking as an Outdoor Run on my Strava app and then used the Lock feature until the end of Tough Mudder. Again no additional cases or covers and it held up just fine. I will say I purposely kept it under the sleeve on my compression top – I don’t know if this would have made any difference, but the only concern I had was getting any mud in it. Being waterproof it coped with everything I threw at it (not literally!)

Any other advice?

Not really, just Train for it, Plan for the day and Enjoy it.

It’s hard, fun and rewarding, so good luck and have fun!

If you’re planning to do some training at home, have a look at another article on Best Equipment For a Home Gym.

What About Food And Drinks?

As with your training, get to know what you personally ned to eat before and after a session, but I would strongly recommend having a meal of some description before you go.

We had a 9am start and had to be there by about 8am, with an hour drive to get there, so I had a reasonable breakfast when I got up at 6am, Bran Flakes and a cup of coffee, and a snack and sports drink on the way.

They do provide drinks and snacks throughout the course – we had Lucozade, Water and Flapjacks, and a welcome beer at the end!

Final Thoughts...

Tough Mudder and similar events are great fun. They are team events but you will find that you will be helping and cheering on those around you too.

If you are looking for something to work towards, a challenge and an excuse to get fit, find an event local to you and get started.

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