Sunday, October 20, 2013

How I trained for Tough Mudder

I decided to do the spring Tough Mudder last April-ish.  I had been working out 3-5 times a week (often with Gillian Michaels' videos) since last spring but when I thought about joining my husband's cousin's team for Tough Mudder I realized I probably need to see if I can run.  I used to run a bit when I was at university but the last time I remember going for a run was June 2002, just before I left Southern California (and it didn't go well since we lived on the side of a mountain and I hadn't run for a year or so).  I never ran for more than 30 minutes (I think I ran for 35 minutes once) so I was only ever doing around 5km.  I'd need to be able to do around 20km for Tough Mudder (but there would be breaks at the obstacles).  Since I had decent cardio fitness I decided to go for a run to see how far I could run without stopping to walk.  I then looked at the couch to 5k program and decided my running fitness level fit around week 4. The program was great and I was easily running 5km within 6 weeks.  I continued to build from there (my cardiovascular system had no problems handling the runs, it was just strengthening all the muscles used in running that took time).  
I started alternating runs and Tough Mudder Boot Camps (or other strength training activities, including Zac's cousin's boot camp style group fitness sessions with her new business Fit Queen) 6 days a week. 
I changed the way I ate during training too.  This year Zac went back to school so we had to cut back on expenses, which meant less eating out and take away.  I started avoiding a lot of packaged foods too (way less store bought vegan cheese that is generally not very healthy but oh soooo good) and eating more wholefoods.    
Pre-workout I would usually have some sort of snack if it was right after work (crackers with tahini, dates, bananas or something along those lines).  I would also make sure I'd been hydrating well over the last hour or 2.  
After I'd finish I would either have a homemade energy bar (usually something like this one, based on this formula) or a smoothie (often banana, frozen berries, chia seeds, nuts, a bit of soy milk, water and maybe so kale). I also made sure to continue to stay hydrated.  
No Meat Athlete and Happy Herbivore had a lot of useful information on training on a vegan diet.  
During my one 15km run and Tough Mudder I used Clif Shot energy gels that I got from Uproar.  Cliff shots seem to have the most natural looking ingredients in energy gels.  BSC gels (I've seen them at Woolies) are also vegan but the ingredients looked a bit weird to me and I wasn't sure if my stomach would handle them.  Clif Shots actually tasted pretty good too (although I'm sure the one I had during Tough Mudder, I took in as much mud from the outside of the packet as I did gel) and I didn't have any stomach issues (the gels my teammates used definitely weren't as tasty).  
When I researched how to fuel for events like Tough Mudder (half marathons) most people recommend light breakfasts beforehand.  I seem to work better when I've had a carb heavy meal within an hour (or less) before a long run.  My best longer runs (10-15km) were the ones that I had a bowl of pasta (like Vegan Yum Yum's  Hurry Up Alfredo- the Vegan Yum Yum site seems to be down but I've linked to someone else who posted the recipe.  Hopefully the site will be up again soon and I can link to her actual site) 30 minutes or less before running.  The morning of Tough Mudder we were all up early (our start time was 10:40, we were up by 7ish).  I had a big bowl of homemade baked beans (made with a can of 4 bean mix, a can of diced tomatoes, some garlic and spinach) on toast and then later had a few fork-fulls of left over hurry up alfredo and a couple dates just before we left and just before we started the event.  I also had my husband bring me a peanut butter and banana sandwich so I would have some food at the finish line.  It was great that bananas were available at a few of the water stations along the course (I only used 1 energy gel because of this).  I never felt hungry or overfull at any point during or after the event.  
I found Tough Mudder easier than I expected (and although the Arctic Enema was terrible it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be).  I will be doing another one.  We had a great time.  

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