Tough Mudder Training Program

The following is basic Tough Mudder Training Program that you should follow week to week as you work your way into shape for an obstacle course and or mud run.  This plan is designed for an individual who wants to run the whole course and attempt to complete all the obstacles.  In reality, you can make this race as difficult or as easy as you would like.  Some people run the whole thing.  Some walk and skip difficult obstacles.  The choice is yours.  

During a week of workouts, I suggest that you do the following things starting from about three months away from your race date. Three days should be dedicated to upper body strength, and three days should be dedicated to cardiovascular training.

Of the three days that you have to do a cardio workout, one of them should be a long run, and one of them should be a strength and cardio workout combined. The Tough Mudder is 10 to 12 miles long with 20 to 25 obstacles. If you average that out, for every half mile that you run, there will be an obstacle to overcome. Make one workout per week reflect that type of an effort. Run for four minutes, then do some pull ups. Go back to running for a bit, then do some sit ups. Continue this process to mimic the race.

Here's a video example of a workout designed to help you run a longer obstacle course or mud run.

Use the following weekly Tough Mudder training program to help you get ready for the race.  

Day 1.  LONG RUN - Start working on the longer run right away.  If you can only do three miles slowly at the start of your training program, that's fine.  Just make sure to run slowly, but add distance to this long run each week.  If you plan on running the whole way through the Tough Mudder, you should be able to run about 10 miles in under 2 hours before race day.  This is about how far you should be able to go assuming you are training for 12 weeks leading up to race day.  Week 1 - 3 miles.  Week 5 - 7 miles.  Week 10 - 10 miles.

Day 2.  STRENGTH - The best types of strength workouts you can do are where you work against your own body weight.  Pull-ups, push-ups, core work, dips, and anything that you can do to increase your grip strength are key.  Two of the most difficult obstacles to overcome are the "Funky Monkey" which is where you have to do monkey bars over water, and the "Hanging Tough" which is where you have to swing from ring to ring across water.  Even if you are very strong, if you weigh too much to handle your own body weight, they will be difficult to complete.  If you fall in the water, you just swim across and you don't have to try again though.

Day 3.  CARDIO - Do some form of a cardio workout.  You can run, bike, swim, cross country ski, or anything really that gets your heart rate elevated for an extended period of time.  I suggest shooting for 30 to 60 minutes of cardio.  After this is done, "Touch Speed".  Do a few sprints, to work on your quickness and explosive speed.  One obstacle that requires good speed is called "Everest".  Watch the video to see why you have to work on speed.


Day 3. CARDIO - Do some form of a cardio workout. You can run, bike, swim, cross country ski, or anything really that gets your heart rate elevated for an extended period of time. I suggest shooting for 30 to 60 minutes of cardio. After this is done, "Touch Speed". Do a few sprints, to work on your quickness and explosive speed. One obstacle that requires good speed is called "Everest". Watch the video to see why you have to work on speed.

Day 4.  STRENGTH - Don't forget to work in core exercises on strength days.  You can do core on every day actually, but wait until after the cardio workout to do core work. 

Day 5.  CARDIO - Easy jog for 30 minutes.  Day six will be a big effort where you mix cardio and strength, so just train lightly the day before.

Day 6.  CARDIO + STRENGTH - This type of workout is the most important to get yourself ready for the Tough Mudder.  Run for four minutes, do one set of a strength exercise. Repeat this pattern of running followed by a strength exercise 10 to 20 times.  Here is an example of what I mean.  Run a half mile.  Do twenty push ups.  Run a half mile.  Do five pull ups.  Run a half mile.  Army crawl for 20 meters.  Repeat this process over and over and over!

Day 7.  Rest day  

Below is a video of my first experience with Tough Mudder.  It was fun!



- Written by David Tiefenthaler



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This article was written by David Tiefenthaler, the founder and main contributor for Tips4Running.com. In addition to running, he's also an author, and a full time teacher.

You can follow David on Twitter @Tiefsa or visit his blog
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