Tough Mudder Training Begins: Run Training With Ben

As many of you know I've become a fitness junkie. I've decided to do the Tough Mudder race in October, which is one of the hardest obstacle races in the country. As Ben says in the video below it has an 80% finish rate. That means 20% of the attendees do not finish it. That is NOT going to be me! But I've never run 10-12 miles before. I can barely get past 3 miles right now. Ben has done the race 3 times already! And he's a RAW VEGAN. So we decided to join forces to train together and do the race. We've made a few videos about our training to share with you! Ben gives you some helpful tips below if you are training for an obstacle/adventure race. 

(please click through to the post to see the video if viewing this in email)

How do I get started if I'm not a runner at all?

If you're brand new to running, you'll want to start with a "Couch to 5K" or other beginner runner program. There are many free guides if you Google them. It's a pretty straightforward combination of walking and running that eventually builds up to all running. When I first started I used the Runner's World program.

Once you're able to run a 5K (3.1 miles) you'll want to slowly build up your aerobic base and increase your mileage to handle the 10-12 miles that is Tough Mudder. The program that I used the was the No Meat Athlete Half-Marathon Roadmap since the length of a half-marathon (13.1 miles) is close to Tough Mudder. I only recommend the guide because I have used it myself and gotten tremendous benefit from it.

In order to build up endurance for any race you'll want to increase your mileage about 10% a week to prevent injury from over training. So if you are running 3 miles 3 times a week you will want to increase ONE of those runs by 1 mile each week. Generally speaking you'll want to continue to increase that same run by 1 mile each week and continue to run just 3-4 miles on your other runs. This one run is called the "long run" and is generally done on the weekend since by the time you are up to 8 or 9 miles this can take almost 2 hours, depending on your pace.

Do I need to get up to the point where I can run 10-12 miles?

It's not 100% necessary, but it helps. I ran my first Tough Mudder in 2011 back when it was 9 miles and at the time the most I had run before was 7.5. It got rough towards the end but I finished. The more running endurance you build up, the better you'll do.

What if I get injured?

I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. If you get injured you are far better off taking time off than trying to run through it. Running through an injury can make it orders of magnitude worse, causing you to miss more time than if you had just rested until it felt better. Believe me, I've made the mistake enough times to know. Stay healthy!

Do you have any tips to add about starting a running program? Let us know in the comments!

Ben Benulis is a vegan footbagger and runner who lives in Austin, TX with his two dogs. His main staples are bananas, mangoes, spinach and celery of which he has been known to eat up to copious amounts. He also enjoys spending time in nature, weightlifting, cycling and playing Dungeons & Dragons. He can be hassled on Twitter @IronCladBen or by email

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  1. Start slow at a pace you can maintain.  It can help you run a longer distance sooner without walk breaks.  I start my runs with a slow jog and gradually increase my speed depending on how I feel.  

    Stay positive with your self talk. Running has such a mental component that is so important for long distances.  I use a lot of visual imagery to get myself to the end.  I also set short goals as I go.  It could be related to my form, or just to get to the end of the street before taking a walk break.  

    Find a buddy.  It's always great to have someone to talk to on your runs, and you can help motivate each other to do your best. 

    I've never done an obstacle race, but they look like so much fun!  Good luck!

    1. What great advice Nicole! I have a tendency to go too fast because I want to reach a certain distance and I want it to be over as fast as possible. But I get burned out. I will try to go slower and enjoy the ride 🙂

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