Call it what you want: Mud Run, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, or Spartan Race. The common theme among all of these is that these are “fun” races where you’ll have to face down numerous adversaries, both living and nonliving (meaning obstacles, not zombies).
Although these are all intended to be just for fun, they have become incredibly competitive in recent years as shows like American Ninja Warrior have grown immensely popular. In order to get you ready for the grind of the race, we’ve got some helpful tips and tricks on how you should structure your training schedule to be able to tackle these fun runs without losing any gains you’ve made in the gym.
A Few Pointers
First things first, remember that this is a FUN RUN after all. Yes, there are other competitors racing against you, but the goal of these is to test your own personal strength, courage, and fortitude and see how you handle whatever the course-designers have to thrown at you.
Secondly, these are runs, so in order to get in shape for them and be able to last the entire length of the course, you’re going to have to run. Yes, weight lifting will help increase overall athleticism, but to get in running shape, you’re going to have to do some runs.
When prepping for a mud run, you’re going to need to mix and max running and lifting. These courses test your endurance AND strength, and failure to be adequately prepared on either of these fronts will ultimately result in you bailing out before the halfway point on the course.
When prepping your body for the running portion of obstacle course, you’re going to want to get in a mix of low intensity runs and high intensity sprints. The best way to do this is to intermingle these running days between your days lifting weights.
For example, let’s say you intend to hit the gym on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. That means you can do a low intensity, long distance run on Tuesday followed by several sets of sprints on Thursday. Saturday can be reserved for another low intensity run, but can be shorter than the session you did on Tuesday. Remember we want to build up our endurance with these, not beat our legs to a pulp by doing an excessive amount of running, (you will still have to train legs at the gym). Running is not a substitute for LEG DAY!!!
As important as running is to your training, the reason most individuals fail at mud runs is they over-emphasize running and don’t have a solid strength foundation. That means hitting the weights, but probably not in the most conventional 5×5 sense that you may be accustomed to.
The twist to the lifting workouts is that you can’t be overly regimented in how you train. The thing is, unless you have unlimited funds, you won’t actually be able to train on the obstacles you’re likely to encounter on the course. This means that your strength training will have to be somewhat “broad.” No, you don’t need to start doing squats on a stability ball or anything crazy like that, but you will be deviating from standard hypertrophy based training.
Many of the obstacles require a strong upper body as they rely heavily on grip strength and pulling yourself over things. This necessitates that pullups factor into your workouts. DO include a mix of low-rep heavy, weighted pull ups and high-rep bodyweight pull ups to increase both your pure strength and muscular endurance.
Another factor that people fail to take into account is the amount of cumulative fatigue that will set in on their legs as they continue to run, jump, and climb with increased stress and the weight of wet, muddy clothes bearing down on them. This requires that you work on leg strength as part of your gym training.
While you may think you just need to pound out endless sets of squats, very rarely will you be trying to move a max load with both feet on the group during one of these runs. You’ll be much better off doing exercises that focus on single-leg training: step-ups, lunges, 1-legged squats, 1-legged deadlits, and bounding exercises. To build up your strength, keep reps relatively low (5-10 rep range). You’re already getting plenty of leg endurance work with your longer runs, so when we hit the weights with legs, go hard and heavy to increase strength and power!
Structure you’re lifting days as 3 total body sessions each week, with a day of rest between them. Aim to hit your upper and lower body during each session to make the most of the limited time you have ahead of the race.
The key to preparing for any type of race, or anything in life, is to start early. If the last time you went on a run was high school gym class, then make that one of your priorities and allow adequate time to build up your endurance and deal with the shin-splits that will inevitably happen after your first few runs.
Yes this is a fun run, but don’t take it lightly, you’ll be working your ass off and the more serious you attack your training and preparation, the better your experience at the race will be. So make sure to give yourself at least eight to ten weeks to add some running workouts, assuming you’re a regular gym rat, and hit those three lifting sessions with the same intensity as always as they are all crucial to a successful mud run.
Prepare with Nitramine!
When looking to tackle a mud run for the first time, the training can seem daunting, but don’t worry, Nitramine has all of your training needs covered.
Myokem’s Nitramine is the ideal choice whether you’re going for a long distance run or hitting the weights. Take it 30-45 minutes before your workout or race and be ready leave the competition in the dust!