The path to Tough Mudder, Part 1: Why I’m doing it

At 12:01am today, I turned 38 and it’s bothering me. I’ve had plenty of friends explain that it’s not that old, that I’m panicking, that I’m being insulting to...


At 12:01am today, I turned 38 and it’s bothering me. I’ve had plenty of friends explain that it’s not that old, that I’m panicking, that I’m being insulting to people older than me, but you know what – it’s the oldest I’ve been so far, so I’ll panic all I bloody well want.

Rather than do anything practical with all this anxious energy – you know, get debt free, learn to drive, have a family – I’ve decided to go the other route and sign up for the Sydney Tough Mudder in September. Tough Mudder is a 20km long obstacle course that was apparently designed by the British SAS. Obstacles include the traditional rope bridges and water courses, but also more unusual items like burning hale bales, ice water plunges and, my personal favourite, dangling 10000 volt electrified wires.

So why would I do this?

It’s still unclear, but it’s apparent that somewhere deep inside I equate idiocy with youthfulness and, in fairness, things like Facebook and Twitter support this theory. All jokes aside, I’m actually quite excited to have something to train for and also excited to be part of team that trains together. The big question is: can I actually do this?

Twenty kilometres is a lot by most people’s standards. By my standards it’s actually a fucking lot. Add in the obstacles and you’ve got yourself quite the challenge. I hit the gym a few times a week, but I like lifting heavy things, not running. In fact, cardio and I have been strangers for a while lately. There’s just under 100kg of me (or maybe just over at the moment – I did have a big lunch). When I run, it’s a bit like a rhino trying to get up enough speed to ram a Landrover full of tourists on safari. I can do a 5km run in about 30 mins, but don’t expect me to do much more than pant and leak for a while afterwards.

The Tough Mudder site suggests a quite remarkable list of 16 exercises to train with, suggesting you do each one for a minute, with a 15 second break between them. Ideally, it says, should be able to do this circuit twice in a row “comfortably”. I have done this circuit, with a whole minute’s break in between exercise for one round and I’m not too proud to say that there was absolutely nothing comfortable about what I experienced afterwards.

So I need to work on my endurance. A lot. And to help, I’m going to try some different apps and gadgets out over the next few months as I train for the Mudder.

My initial trial has been with MapMyRun+ on Android which has been an excellent way of tracking my running but for two small problems. One: I use a Samsung Galaxy Note and it’s freaking massive and not something you want in a pocket as you hurl yourself forward at speed. Two: According to MapMyRun+ on April 10 I run 5485.08km in 22 minutes and 18 seconds, an average pace of 14758.06km/h on a path that took from the Sydney suburb of Petersham to just a few clicks this side of the Malaysian border. My name being neither Wally nor Bart nor Barry nor Jay, I can assure everyone that this did not happen.

Tonight, I’m going to run with music. I’ve never actually done this before, surprisingly, because I run at night (and get nervous about traffic); and I’ve always had this weird idea that if you can listen to music, you aren’t exercising hard enough. However, at a press briefing with Jabra, spokesperson Craig Alexander, world champion triathlete, said that he finds music to be vital to training. So I’ve procured a set of Jabra Sport-Corded headphones and I’ll be testing this theory. (If I can find something appropriate – my music tastes tend to the Alt Country side of the spectrum and I’m not sure I’ll get speed gains from Drive-By Truckers).

If you’ve got comments and suggestions, let me know – I’ll try anything if it stands a chance of getting me across the Tough Mudder finish line come September.

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Sports & Fitness

After 20 years in the field of tech journalism, Nic has moved on to the brave new world of breakfast radio. But anyone who enjoys tech and games this much just couldn't let go...
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