Top 5 Tips to Get Ready for Tough Mudder

When it comes to mud runs, Tough Mudder is a big deal.  This event covers ten to twelve miles of muddy running interspersed with challenging obstacles.  Using the word “challenging” when describing the obstacles along the course is an understatement.  Obstacles include getting an electrical shock, running through ice-cold water, jumping over fire, climbing over walls, and things you’ve seen when watching American Ninja Warrior.  Plus these obstacles are all done on a rugged, muddy terrain.  So, maybe the word dirty-insane-challenging would be a better fit to describe the Tough Mudder.

Don’t let this description lead you to think that this is an impossible feat.   The Tough Mudder website states that 1.3 million people have completed this event since it’s inauguration.  If Tough Mudder is on your bucket list, know that if they can do it so can you.  Here are 5 tips to get you ready to tackle the Tough Mudder.

1) Train: This tip seems obvious, but it’s not.  Many people are standing at the start line hoping for the best.  This strategy puts you at high risk for injury and not completing the event.  You need to train anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks for the Tough Mudder.  Use this guideline if you have a regular workout routine established.  If you’re new to exercise or have been on a workout hiatus you may need 4 to 6 months to get ready.  Carve out time in your schedule to train 3 to 5 days a week to prepare for this event.  If you need some guidance, join a training program to provide a road map to Tough Mudder success.

2) Run:  Tough Mudder is like a half-marathon on steroids.  Running is critical component when you find that you’re traveling up to a mile between obstacles.  Incorporate running intervals, hills, and fartleks into your training program.  Start your training off with a new pair of running or minimalist shoes so that by the time your Tough Mudder comes around your shoes are ready to get trashed.

3) Simulate Obstacles:  To feel confident at the start line of Tough Mudder, you need to practice skills that can help you with the obstacles.  This will reduce your risk of obtaining any injuries during the event.  Utilizing stairs, fences, playgrounds, rock climbing walls, football fields, lakes, and beaches are great places to start when looking to simulate obstacles.  Check out the Tough Mudder website to see a list obstacles.  Use your imagination to find ways to incorporate obstacle training in your workouts.   

4) Simulate Terrain: Running covered in mud with wet shoes is much different from running on the treadmill.  Running in the grass, on the sand and through the water is much different from running on asphalt.  Get ready to be a little uncomfortable.  Your shoes will begin to slide around on your feet and your clothes will cling to your body.  Get ready to work a little harder.  Your stride will be affected by the changes in terrain.  Practice running on the grass, in the water, and in the sand.  Make sure you get wet and run with soaked shoes and clothes. You’ll realize what shoes and clothes to wear on race day to be the most comfortable and effective.

5) Team: Teamwork is what Tough Mudder is about.  Teamwork is what keeps drawing people back to the Tough Mudder venue.  From the start to the finish, it’s about getting everyone across the finish line.  If you’re struggling to get over a wall, a hand is there to help pull you up.  When fatigue is setting in, another person is there to bring up your spirits.  You’re not alone out there.  At other races you find you’re left in the dust.  At Tough Mudder you are overcoming challenges with your muddy buddies. Get together with friends or a training group to form a team bond that will keep you accountable with your training and support you to the finish line.

Want personalized training???  Schedule a virtual appointment with Amber.

Keeping Up with the Kids

On Saturday my husband and I took our niece Anna out her annual birthday date. That date started with a trip to the Humboldt park playground. As with most kids, Anna ran straight to the spider-web jungle gym which I have to admit it looked pretty cool. Just before she began to climb up, she turned to look at me and said “Auntie Amber, climb up too!”

I was not wearing my playground apparel on Saturday. I had a cute pair of pink loafers on, skinny jeans, tank and a jean jacket. But it did look like fun so I decided to climb. No problems yet. I was good to go climbing around on the ropey, spider web apparatus. But of course, just climbing around was not enough. Anna suggested that we should race. Not just to the top, but to the top of the jungle gym over the side, across the rope bridge and down the slide. This is when my skill was put to the test.

As you could have guessed, Anna smoked me during our race. Not only that, but the jean jacket was off and I was working up a sweat. Was I getting a workout from my 9-year-old niece? I think so. But we both were having so much fun. We continued to climb up and down the fake rock wall, monkey bars and run around the playground. It was a blast.

But as I looked around the playground, I was the only adult climbing around the playground and playing. The other adults were sitting on park benches watching. One parent near by had to decline the request of a child they were with to join them on the playground equipment. I felt really good that I could be there with my niece running around, climbing and swinging.

Keeping up with our kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews is really important as we age. Otherwise we sit on the sidelines. How do you train for the playground? Get in the weight room. Lift heavy things, jump, pull yourself up, move side ways, and challenge your body to do movements beside sitting or standing. If it’s been awhile or you’re just not sure where to start then get a trainer and join some group workouts.

It’s time to get moving. Because it starts out at the playground now but soon it will be mud runs, Frisbee, triathlons and weekend football games. You need to keep up!

When is the Best Time of Day to Workout?

There are various theories about the best time of day to workout. At the personal training studio I own, training sessions start as early as 5:45am and the latest sessions start at 8pm. We have people that get up early and get their workout done first thing in the morning. We also have other people that get it done after work to release the stress of the day.

So which group is getting the better workout?

If you’re an early bird or have too many evening commitments then a morning workout is ideal for you. Here are some benefits to training in the morning.

1. Very few things can get in the way when you workout in the morning. (Except for the snooze button.) Later in the day extra phone calls, meetings and tasks can get in the way of getting your workout done.

2. After a strength or interval training session, your metabolism is elevated for hours after your workout. Enjoy these post exercise benefits while you are awake and active instead of when you are at rest.

3. Exercise will boost your energy. Use the momentum from a morning workout to arrive at work energized, present and focused instead of feeling sluggish because you just got out of bed.

4. Exercise on an empty stomach before breakfast is a great way to burn more body fat. Upon waking, the body is in a fasted state. Without ready available glucose in the bloodstream, the body is forced to use fat as an available fuel source for the workout.

However, some of us need our sleep or need to burn off the steam of a hectic workday. Here are some of the benefits of working out in the evening.

1. Getting enough sleep is crucial for health and recovery. If you have to skimp on regular sleep to get up for an early workout, the benefits of the workout start to diminish.

2. Instead of taking that stress of work home, you hit the gym after work. Even after the worst workdays, exercise will boost your mood. Friends and family will be grateful that you get your workouts (aka therapy session) completed.

3. Often people feel stronger when they workout in the evenings. When performing strength tests people tend to lift heavier during evening workouts. This could be due to the fact that they are more awake or that they have food fuel to utilize during their exercise session.

4. Research shows that you can build more muscle with evening workouts because cortisol levels are lowest in the evening. The result of this will be a higher testosterone to cortisol ratio leading to a less catabolic workout.

So which time of day comes out on top for the best workout time? In my opinion, it’s the time that you can do consistently. It’s the time that works best with your natural energy rhythms, work schedule, and family commitments.

Experiment working out at different times to see what works best for you. When you find the right fit, schedule your workouts on your calendar to build the exercise habit.

We Need More.....Kettlebell

You either love them or you hate them.

When you are in love with kettlebells, like I am, you enjoy the multi-muscle group movements.  Kettlebell workouts are fluid, like a dance, putting together a chain of movements that leave your heart pounding and sweat pouring.  Yes, there’s some sneaky cardio component to a kettlebell workout.   A great blend of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning.

If you hate kettlebells it’s because kettlebell exercises keep you honest with proper exercise execution.  Form is imperative to moves like the kettlebell swing or the kettlebell snatch.  Do it incorrectly and you’ll be either sore or have bruised wrists the next day.  But this is no reason to shy away from the kettlebell.  You have way too much to gain from this odd looking piece of exercise equipment.  

You will get a mega -caloric burn.  The American council on Exercise states that the average kettlebell workout burns 20 calories per minute.  That’s 1200 calories in just one hour.   Kettlebell workouts utilize many muscle groups to give you an efficient, total body conditioning workout.  

If you’re looking for a toned back side get a kettlebell.  The classic kettlebell swing works all the posterior muscles like your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.  But only if you use correct form.  Otherwise you'll find yourself with nagging back pain, instead of a better butt.  

Kettlebell exercises are functional movements that will allow you to play hard without getting injured.  If you are an athlete, a nature enthusiast, or just want to keep up with the kids then you need to give kettlebells a try.  During a workout, the exercises will target movements that will make getting up and down off the floor easier, as well as bending over to pick something up.

If you are interested in doing kettlebell workouts start with a coach or take class.  You can’t fake form with kettlebell exercises or you could end up hurt.  I’m not trying to scare anyone away because good form is easy to learn.   Your body will memorize the correct movement pattern and you’ll be on your way to a successful kettlebell workout.