Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Training tip for Tough Mudder: hope everyone else trains less

Note: This column appears in the 1/12 issue of The Glendale Star and the 1/13 issue of the Peoria Times.

Many people who discover I am participating in a 10-12 mile mud run with obstacles—they discover this because I tell them instantly upon seeing them—ask me, “How do you train for such a thing?”

That was a question I asked myself after signing up. Initially, I had considered setting up a few giant, flaming hoops throughout our development that I could jump through during my weekend training. But alas, it is “no burn” season in our part of the Valley (pfft), and besides, my earlier attempts to douse hula-hoops in gasoline and set them ablaze did not produce the desired result.

My buddy and Tough Mudder teammate Pete sent me a few training videos a while back that I did not really watch because, well, I have a difficult time being led in a workout by an accompanying video. I mean, I’m trying to envision myself as Rocky here, downing raw eggs and running up an absurd amount of steps. In fact, all of the training knowledge I’ll ever need comes from Rocky montages, and I don’t recall him ever getting ready for the big fight by stretching his quads to a Jane Fonda VHS tape.

So I’ve been training pretty much how I always trained for the half-marathon: by running aimlessly throughout the neighborhood and mixing in some weight workouts. I’m trying to keep it simple, lest I burn myself out or burn myself literally. Also, I realized early on that, since the team must finish together, the four of us are bound by the least prepared among us. And, as previously mentioned, I’m not sure when/if my father-in-law started training, so … yeah.

In truth, I’m not worried in the least about my father-in-law’s stamina—the prospect of proving he is still 45-years old will provide enough adrenaline for at least six miles and eight obstacles. From there, he should make it through sheer Italianism. With him, I’m more concerned about the “staying together” part, as he has a long and storied history of abandoning us at the starting line. Most recently, at the Pat Tillman run in Tempe, right before we were set to go, he said to me, “Do you want to the set the pace, or do you want me to? I don’t care, either way.” Before I could answer, he was gone.

My team arrives this week, and Saturday will decide, I guess, how tough we really are. The Tough Mudder event donates much of its proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project, and as I’ve come to learn, many of our country’s wounded vets participate in the event. I plan on being in shape, yes, but I also plan on being inspired by the amazing stories around me, and the camaraderie of my ragtag team.

I also plan on having fun. Pete texted me last week to inform me that one of the obstacles for our Phoenix event is called the Bump and Grind, in which “participants crawl over crushed gravel while listening to R. Kelly’s R&B hit.” And that, actually, is something I’ve been able to incorporate into my training. The people driving by look at me weird, but I think it’ll pay off.

I also plan on getting a Mohawk, which many people do at Tough Mudder’s allocated “Mohawk stations.” I haven’t told my boss yet, and I probably won’t until after the fact. I hope he doesn’t read this paper.

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