Sunday, September 30, 2012

Workout - Running

Practice running. This will be a huge part of Tough Mudder. That being said, you don’t need to be a  superstar runner right now. I hear a lot of people say they don’t want to run because they aren’t good at it... Of course not, very few people are good runner without practice. So, this week we are going to add running into your workout, to help build of some cardio strength and endurance.

The term cardio is one I use a lot. It is short for cardiovascular, which essentially means the ability of your heart to pump blood, your blood to absorb oxygen and your muscles to utilize oxygen from your blood. See why I just say cardio? Cardio endurance is your ability to continually go through the process described above (meaning long distance cardio), while cardio strength is directed more towards your bodies ability to do things powerfully (think short distance runners).


Some tips for running to make it a more enjoyable activity.

- Breath! This is huge. I have seen people who hate running turn to people who run daily just due to breathing. Find yourself a good breathing pattern, breath in through your nose as much as possible. Then focus on your breathing, running, or any other type of cardio, can be made into almost a meditation if you focus on breathing. In your mind, tell yourself “in” and “out” as your breath, clear your mind of other things (except your surroundings, don’t get hit by a car, please).

- Get proper footwear. For me, this means a good pair of toe shoes, this isn’t true for everyone. But footwear can change everything when it comes to running. Make sure to have proper running shoes, cross trainers (aka basketball shoes) would also be acceptable. But do not use ‘skate shoes’ or dress shoes, or other various shoe types. You can really hurt yourself this way.

- Music and/or a running partner. Having someone, or something, there to help distract you is a great way to take your mind of the difficulty or discomforts of running. If you are running with music, make sure you can still hear things around you, once again, don’t get hit by cars. If you have a partner, it’s great to have conversations, but you will find that the throat will dry out quicker due to this. Bring a bit of extra water if you aren’t used to running with a partner.

- Apps. That’s right, there is an app for that. I personally use “cardio trainer” it’s a very simple app, not a lot of options, and basically just has a GPS and record your workouts. Very simple, and I’m sure it has more options, but that’s what I like. Endomondo is another good one. There is a ‘pro’ version available for a price. (If you are on android and go NOW, that price is $0.25). This app has ALL sorts of options, allowing for a much more immersive experience than cardio trainer. I’ve seen it used by a lot of people, and they all enjoy it. If you’re looking for a little more fun from your running app, check out Zombies, Run! this app will play a game with your gps. A game involving zombies! It has levels, and increases in difficulty, causing you to run in different directions in order to dodge zombie hordes. Very neat idea, check it out if you’re looking for a little extra fun.

The Actual Workout

Here’s the plan this week. You’re going to run! 3 day a week, this can be added to every week. But not just any running;

Day 1: 40 minutes slow and steady run
Day 2: 20 minutes of quick running
Day 3: 5 minutes of sprints

Never fear, a description is here:
Day 1, if you can, keep a constant pace for 40 minutes. This should be a pace that is slow enough that you would still be able to hold a conversation without gasping for breath. However it should be fast enough that you can’t rap along to eminem while running. If you are unable to run 40 minutes steady, not a problem, run for 10 minutes, walk for 1 minute. This is known as a 10:1, and used very commonly. If this is still too difficult, run for 5 minutes, walk for 1 (5:1). If this is still too difficult, you are running too fast. Slow it down, this should be a nice easy job, but should wind you by the end of the 40 minutes. If you are using either the 10:1 or 5:1, the total run time should equal 40 minutes. (so 4 reps of 10:1, or 8 reps of 5:1).

Day 2, what do I mean by quick running? Simple, at about 15-18 minutes, you should feel like you’re unable to finish. This will be difficult, and mentally taxing. Make sure you aren’t sprinting. You want to be having a hard time around 15-18 minutes, but still able to finish the 20. Though it should be very hard.

Day 3, this one is the most complicated of the runs. What I want you doing is sprinting at a 1:2 ratio. Meaning sprint all out for 1 minute, then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat 5 times for a total of 5 minutes run time. If you find this too easy, change it too a 1:1, meaning sprint 1 minute, walk 1 minute. If it’s still too easy 2:1, switch to 1 minute sprint, 30 second walk.

You dictate pace. I can’t stress this enough. Running will only be as hard or easy as you make it, if you’re new to running, most of this will feel tough! Stick to it, read the tips, and most of all, remember. Your attitude towards running is what you’ll get out of running. If you look forward to a nice run where you can shut your mind off for a bit, and enjoy. You’ll enjoy. If you dread every moment leading to the run, you’ll dread the run.

Please post in either the comments, or the Tough Mudder Facebook Group, if you are adding these runs to your workouts. For those who want a little extra, do the runs, and last weeks workout together.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


As per always, make sure to warm up a little prior to working out. 5-10 minutes of walking/jogging/running is a good way to get a quick, full body, warm up. Right to the point, here’s the workout:

3/6/9 - Mountain Climber (per leg) - eg.
3/6/9 - Body row - eg.
3/6/9 - Alternating dead bug (per side) - eg.
3/6/9 - Bench squats - eg. (ignore the bar, this will be done with body weight).

I’d like you to try and complete this workout twice this week (at least). It’s going to feel like a step up from last week, but don’t worry, you’ve got it!

Too hard?
Mountain climber - hold onto a bench and lift legs to elbows, so your body is at a 45 (ish) degree angle to the ground.
Body row - the more upright you are, the easier it is. Simply find yourself an angle that is comfortable.
Alternating dead bug - hold your arms and legs straight up for 3/6/9 seconds. No movement involved.
Bench squats - Higher chairs/benches are easier.

Too easy?
Mountain climber - either speed up, or attempt to get your knee past your elbows
Body row - The closer you are to laying on the floor, the harder this exercise becomes. Change the angle until you find an angle that is a challenge.
Alternating dead bug - Instead of alternating, you bring down both arms and legs at the same time. As shown in the video.
Bench squats - lowering the height of the chair/bench will make this a harder exercise.

Important things to keep in mind!
Mountain climbers, try not to let your back to round, keep your spine's natural curvature, and keep your hips lower than your shoulders, don’t allow them to pop up, and sit really high.
Body row, keep a strong core throughout the whole movement, don’t allow the lower back to round or arch.
Alternating dead bug, imagine if you will, your belly button. Now imagine it trying to meet your spine for dinner, your belly button is a big fan of your spine, in fact, Mr. Belly Button wants to date the spine. What am I getting at? Try to draw your belly button into your spine, let those two cuddle their problems away. The entire time you’re doing this movement keep your lower back against the floor. Do not allow an arch in your back, at all.
Bench squats, refer to image below, the only difference being that you won’t be holding a bar, just doing body weight. Also, keep your core (everything around your belly/back strong, and in good posture).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Vibram Five Fingers

If you're interested in a specific pair and would like to see my individual review, feel free to scroll down and check them out.

About 2 years ago I attempted what was, at the time, considered the new fitness “fad”. Barefoot running shoes, also known as minimalist shoes. The basis of the shoe is simple, to minimize the contact between your foot and the ground, while still providing enough protection to prevent rocks/slivers/glass/etc from piercing the skin.

I went in head first, purchasing myself a pair of Vibram Five Fingers (, or more commonly known as “those toe shoe things”. I fell in love in minutes, as soon as I tried them on in the store and walk around, I thought ‘where have these been all my life?!’.

Now I made one large mistake, I treated them as regular shoes. As soon as I got home I went outside for a 7km run. I wanted to feel how every surface felt, I ran to a park in the sand, through a field, on cement, on asphalt, on gravel, everything! The thing I didn’t realize, you need to ease into them, multiple websites and review recommend no more than 30% of your daily mileage in toe shoes when you first wear them. I did about 80% of my daily mileage in them...

When used properly, these minimalist shoes, namely the toe shoes, will change the way you walk and run. Instead of landing on your heel, you’ll learn to land on the ball of your foot (also known as a toe strike). This puts a lot more impact on the muscles, but removes a lot of impact from hitting joints directly, which is a good thing. But, the first time you wear them this can, and most likely will, be a huge strain on the muscles. Walking isn’t as noticeable, but when I first ran in Five Fingers, I felt muscles working in ways I’ve never experienced in the past. All sorts of stabilizer muscles working over time to teach my foot to work the way it’s naturally meant too. The only reason it hasn’t worked this way, is shoes with such large, padded, heels. Moral of the story, ease into your new shoes.

Individual Product Review
I’ve purchased myself many a pair of Five Finger since, because I’m a little bit obsessed with them, and want an indoor pair, an outdoor pair, and of course I need different pairs for exercising than I do for general use (not really, but it helps me sleep at night). So here is my reviews of the shoes I have worn myself. I personally do not enjoy wearing toe socks, because I can feel them between my toes, I don’t find the same sensation with shoes.

These right here are the ‘basic’ model of toe shoes. Made for general after sport and light running activities. I personally find these to be my favorite overall pair, they were the first pair I ever bought, and I continue to purchase them as the pair I wear at work (I’ve only gone through 1 pair in the last 2 years, which is awesome). They provide very little impact resistance on the foot during running, so be aware of that if you plan on running in them.
Fun fact: KSO stands for keep stuff out, and for the most part it really works, the only time I’ve had issues is when my foot is underwater and submerged completely in mud; which for some strange reason has happened more than once.

Now known as Trek LS, the only difference is the version sold now have laces. The pair I purchased did not have laces. These are a good shoes for warmth and comfort. The cross grip on the bottom makes them great for minor rock climbing and trekking. The grip also provide a bit of a massage when stepping on uneven surfaces, which is a nice bonus.

This is probably my least favorite pair I’ve purchased. I may have had a defective pair, but these are the only Five Fingers I’ve ever owned that have caused blisters, and I got some nasty ones. The shoe itself is very similar to KSO, just with different impact areas, which did make it more comfortable for running (minus the blisters, but as I said, I think it was a defect pair, lots of areas stuck out inside the shoe).

Be forewarned, try these on first! Even if you’ve already bought Five Fingers. These fit significantly tighter, mainly around the toes, than any other pair I’ve purchased. They are also, by far, the warmest pair of Five Finger. I did once try wearing them in minus 20 weather, and the rubber on the bottom froze. So while I would not suggest them for winter, they are great for cold water sports, or chilly fall nights. Try them on first, they will be a different size than normal. I know I already said this, but really keep this in mind!

The ‘toe boot’. I love these thing, they are very comfortable. They are exactly the same make as the Trek, using the same leather, same grip on the bottom, only difference is the fact that it covers the ankle a bit. I would not suggest using these for hiking or trekking. The top of the boot is not tight, leaving a lot of space for things to get in. But these make a great shoe for just walking around. They are for sure my favorite just ‘wondering around’ pair of shoes.

These are another pair to try on first, they fit a little tighter than most pairs of five fingers. I really enjoyed running in these, by far my favorite running pair so far. Since they take no damage from water (like all five fingers) it makes them a great pair to wear to rocky beaches. They dry quick, and they have good padding on the ball of the foot, so you won’t feel much of the rocks.

My newest pair, I haven’t worn them much. One thing's for sure, these are by far the most ‘rugged’ pair. They have a very thick feeling sole (though actually not thicker than the others), which awesome traction. Though I’ve only had them for a bit, they grip everything extremely well. They also have a ‘rock guard’ that I’ve yet to see in use. When I take them out for a run I’ll make sure to run on gravel. The area the rock guard is in, is the only area I’ve ever had an issue with rocks actually hurting, so that’s a nice addition. The rock guard also provides much more arch support than any of the other pairs. Spyrion is for sure the most different pair of Five Fingers. They feel much different than all the other pairs I’ve tried on, which could be great for some.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tough Mudder Group - FTE

How it works: Each exercise is to be done one after another. For example, in this workout, you do 3 push ups, then 3 lunges, then 3 burpees, then back to 6 push ups, 6 lunges, etc.

There is no designated rest time during these workouts. Ideally you do 3 push ups, then lunges, then burpees, then start on 6, without stopping at all. Now, if you are able to do the whole workout without stopping at all, you should be using the “too easy?” option below.

If you need to take breaks, but are able to complete at least 1 full rep of the exercise, that is good. Keep going! This should be difficult, and you should be pushing yourself. Allow yourself enough time resting to complete at least 1 more rep (meaning maybe 10-30 second at most!)

If you can’t complete even 1 push up, or 1 lunge, or 1 burpee, see the “too hard?” option below.

3/6/9 Push up
3/6/9 Lunge (per leg)
3/6/9 Burpees

Too hard?
Push up with knee as pivot.
Split squat style lunge, no step.
Lay down, stand up.

Too easy?
Plyo push up - can be clap, gorilla, or full
Jumping lunge - hips still, or switch kick in air
FULL burpee with pull up - push up at bottom, add (jumping) pull up at top

Now I’m well aware that people are all sorts of different fitness levels in this group. If you have your own workout plan, cool, let us know what you’ve got going on! How often are you training? What type of training? Do you feel/see it working?

The idea of these plans I’m posting is to help progress to things like the workout plan shown right on the Tough Mudder site (

These workouts ARE NOT REQUIRED for you to be in the group. I just thought it would be a nice little addition to help people keep on track. I’d like people to do the workout, and time themselves. The idea behind this is every 3-4 weeks a workout will repeat, ideally you’ll have a better time. This will also help people see where they sit in comparison to other people. Which would be great if you’d like to workout with partners who are also in the group.

If you are embarrassed, or shy, don’t post your time. No worries! But keeping some sort of responsibility to a group is a great way to keep motivated. Even if you just want to post that you’ve done it, that would be awesome!

Please, encourage each other, workout with each other if possible, congratulate people on new times, or new achievements (eg. can do a full pull up). I would love to see our whole team active as a team, and strong as a team (mentally first, physically second).

This one goes out to all my mudders and potential mudders,

PS. Don’t forget to do some cardio. I’ll post more about that later!