Tough Mudder training day
Danny CoyleMonday, 7 November, 2011
The legendary electroshock obstacle lives up to its name...
Three days ago I attended a taster session for a new event set to hit the UK in 2012. Today is the first day I have been able to move a muscle without yelping in pain and my wife rolling her eyes. Tough Mudder is the latest off-road, obstacle-laden, sadomasochistic running event that follows in the footsteps of the likes of Tough Guy, Hell Runner, Spartan Race and the rest.The difference can be found in the Razzmatazz factor, which, as you’d expect from a series born across the pond, is turned all the way up. Chauffered from MR Towers to Hurlingham Park in leafy West London (we first pulled in at the venerable Hurlingham Club only to be snootily told we were in the wrong place at mention of the word ‘mud’), myself and MR intern Clara were greeted by the New York-based organisers with high fives and bright orange head bands before being handed into the care of special forces veterans Nigel and Tony. Welshman Nigel, a squat, broad-chested man whose soft lilt and friendly manner eases you into a state of misplaced comfort, talked us through what we would be doing while Tony, who looked like he had been hewn from Grand Canyon rock to resemble a life-sized replica of a gorilla, prowled his way through the group taking our resting pulse rates, which involved jabbing two of his Cuban cigar-sized fingers into our jugulars with what felt like lethal force.Tough Mudder marketing man Alex Patterson then made us recite the Tough Mudder pledge which, being the reserved British types, we launched into with all the gusto of a market trader trying to flog cabbage in a downpour. Alex quickly made us redouble our efforts before we embarked on our warm up.Having gone through a catalogue of stretches and exercises, we then ran no more than 90 metres, before Nigel ordered us face down in the mud to perform a leopard crawl – the sort of thing you see soldiers doing with rifles. Then it was on to a press up and dips regime before finishing the warm up with a two-minute assault on the body consisting of a continuous loop of exercises ranging from a straightforward press up to the more complicated burpee. With the lactic storing like poured concrete in our limbs we were introduced to two of the obstacles you can expect to find on a common Tough Mudder course.Everest resembles a stunt ramp you’d usually see in a skate park - a seemingly impossible steep curve that runners must negotiate with the help of other competitors at the top ready and wiling to help haul them up.Having all conquered Everest at the first attempt, Tony doused the ramp in oil and we were ordered to form some sort of human escalator, which consisted of myself and three other men. I got off lightly as the bottom ‘rung’ while a reporter from the Daily Mail was unfortunate enough to have positioned his wedding tackle precisely where the rest of the runners needed to place their right foot in order to reach the summit. If his career at the Mail flounders he could always get a job singing soprano. The second obstacle for us to ‘taste’ at the session was Electroshock, a frame from which hung hundreds of wires, each carrying a 400W charge. At least, that’s the idea. Videos on the Tough Mudder wesbite show hulking men dropping to their knees from the shocks, but it seemed the wires were somewhat underpowered that morning as we hurtled through with only minimal stings.The session over, the workout seemed to have been a gentle introduction into the full-body beasting a full Tough Mudder experience will offer. We’d been at it for no more than 45 minutes and tried two obstacles, the real thing stretches out for up to 12 miles and could have over ten times that number of challenges to surmount. It was only on Saturday morning when I woke up with a body that felt like it had been set about by a gang of youths wielding baseball bats that I realised the mangle I had been put through. The simple exercises such as the crawl and the small circuit we performed left my abs, obliques and most of my back aching like never before. Either I’m getting too old or this really was a taste of an event that will tax your every fibre. Whichever one is true, I might incorporate a little routine like this into my weekly regime. The all-body conditioning and core-strengthening it provides would improve your running, regardless of whether you run on or off road.The lasting impression of what you might expect from Tough Mudder is that to get round a full course you will need teamwork, a bunch of mates you can depend on and a washing machine strong enough to remove the mud from your gear. There’s a beer waiting for you at the end as well, so if you’re looking to add something different in 2012 to your running calendar, this is an option worthy of further exploration. There are three weekends in the UK next year in Scotland, the Midland and the North West, which you can find out more about here www.toughmudder.co.uk