Zero to Tough Mudder Hero in 3 weeks

Back in late August I’d just returned to work after a relaxing week in Devon. The first day back at work after time off is always a peculiar one: overwhelmed with email, I’d attempted to start somewhere, then stopped and wrote a list of what I needed to do, then prioritised this list, then colour-coded it…. Desperate for a distraction I dragged a colleague out for a coffee. Little did I know that £123 and lots of ‘such a great way to get fit!’ comments later I was signed up for Tough Mudder London South 2014…

I’m a reasonably fit and healthy person, I go running in the mornings and I try to not put C.R.A.P. (caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol, processed foods) into my body. The 3rd element is often where I struggle… Anyway, with the lacrosse season soon to be starting I thought signing up for a Tough Mudder would be a great way to get back in shape, raise money for Help for Heroes and have fun with friends.

It’s now early October and with only 3 weeks to go, the ‘I’ll start proper training tomorrow’ excuse seems to be wearing thin. So, I’ve given myself a 3 week, 3 step target to get prepared for one of the toughest physical and mental challenges out there. This is one of my tried and tested plans for when I have minimal time to make my body ready to be pushed to the limits. Whether it works for Tough Mudder, well, I’ll let you know in 3 weeks…


1. Protein, protein, protein

I try to increase the amount of protein I’m consuming when training for something specific and only eat carbs after a workout. Protein builds muscle and strong muscles are what I need to push me through the  Tough Mudder 12 mile – 22 obstacle course. This doesn’t need to be hard work however, I just make sure every meal and every snack has a protein element. Some may reach for the shakes, but I reach for the eggs. Eggs in the morning, chicken salad at lunch, tuna or salmon steaks for dinner. Clean, lean and will not only improve your workouts, you’ll feel great too.

2. Do something (physical) every single day 

“If you stick at something for 30 days straight it becomes a habit and habits are much harder to quit.”

I don’t have a gym membership which means that I have to be a little more creative with when, where and how I workout. So, I try to run in the mornings – a variety of interval sprints, speed endurance and stamina training – and try to do some core/upper body workout too.

BUT. It’s October, it’s getting pretty cold, it’s near pitch-black when I wake up for my run and there are just some things your body just says no to. If you make something a habit though, you start to feel the guilt and nag when you break that habit. So, I will be trying to get out there each morning if only for 20 minutes each day over the next 3 weeks. If it really is a frozen monsoon however, 20 mins of lunges, burpees, press ups and core in your sitting room is a good enough substitute.

Returning from Tough Mudder training from Dad: monkey bars, army crawl, sprints and press ups in any puddle I came across…all in the pouring rain!
Returning from Tough Mudder training from Dad: monkey bars, army crawl, sprints and press ups in any puddle I came across…all in the pouring rain!

3. Train hard, play easy 

I’ve been playing sport competitively for as long as I can remember. My dad was a great rugby player and now coaches the sport. One of his pearls of coaching wisdom really stuck with me recently: “train hard, Em, then you can play easy”. On the day of Tough Mudder I’ll need all the mental energy I can summon in order to jump into freezing ice water and swim under barrels, run through electric shock wires and climb over 3 metre walls. I don’t need my body packing in on me half way round – so to combat this I’ll follow Dad’s rule and train as hard as I can to make the ‘play’ that little bit easier.


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