Doing Tough Mudder next weekend? A Fitness Expert is here to answer all your questions
It's nearly showtime folks.
There's just over a week to go until thousands of people descend on Loughcrew Adventure Centre in Oldcastle, co. Meath for 'the toughest event on the planet'.
At this stage, most of the training and the hard work will already have been done by those planning on taking part, but there is still time to fit in some vital preparation ahead of the event next weekend.
Amongst those taking part will be Fitness Expert Pat Divilly, who is looking to raise much-needed funds for Console Ireland by getting a world record-beating team of people to take on the challenging course.
Before the event, Pat was happy to answer a few last-minute questions for anyone brave enough to give it a go. Check out his advice below.
Q: Tough Mudder, is it something that anyone can achieve?
Pat Divilly: Absolutely! It takes some preparation but undoubtedly it's attainable for anyone.
Though I'm a personal trainer I've never been a fan of long-distance running. I've ran a few Tough Mudders and thoroughly enjoyed them and although a half marathon is the same distance, I've ran one of those and found it a lot tougher.
The beauty of Tough Mudder is it is a team event where no one is running for time and everyone is out to help everyone. Some people will find the running tough and the experienced runners will find the obstacles to be their challenge, but everyone on the course is out to have fun and help one another.
I had 540 people run as part of my team last year, from people in their late teens to those in their late 60s, and every one of the 540 crossed the finish line. Anyone can do it!
Q: What kind of training needs to be done in advance?
PD: Though the event itself is around 20km it is broken up with a load of obstacles so typically, you'll run or jog around a kilometre and then tackle an obstacle.
You'll catch your breath whilst helping and encouraging other participants over the obstacle. Then you'll be back jogging again and going in a start/stop motion for the race.
With that in mind, I'd be telling people that if you can jog or run 8km without stopping and have some upper body strength from push ups and other strength training exercises, you'll be more than ready.
Q: For those who've never done it, how terrifying/awful/brilliant is it?
PD: The first time I brought a group to Tough Mudder two years ago, there were 15 of us and we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We had the best day ever!
In the last two years, I've brought over 1,000 people to these races and the first timers always have some nerves, which I think is great. The camaraderie and fun that they have during the course is like something they'll have never experienced and watching people cross the lines with tears of joy and smiling ear to ear is amazing.
Q: What should people be doing nutrition-wise in advance of a challenge like this?
PD: My main rule of thumb year-round with regard to nutrition is to limit intake of processed food and focus on a 'caveman' style diet focusing on meats, seafood, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and other 'single ingredient' foods.
In the run up to Tough Mudder it would be much the same. 2-3 litres of water a day and plenty of single ingredient foods. No need to count calories, just focus on eating like our grandparents would have eaten.
If the food label has dozens of ingredients it's probably not good for you; if it has one ingredient it probably is.
In the two days before Tough Mudder I'd be encouraging people to have generous servings of potatos, rice, porridge, sweet potato, plenty of fruit with breakfast, lunch and dinner and the morning of the event I'd have some fruit and plenty of water.
Q: People seem to load up on protein and chicken breasts etc., is this wise?
PD: Protein's role is to help with muscle recovery and people put a lot of focus on its importance, but healthy fats and carbohydrates will be of equal importance in training for, and competing in, an event like Tough Mudder.
Again, each meal should have a protein source from fish, seafood, meat or eggs, a large serving of vegetables or salad, some healthy fats from oils, nuts or seeds and some carbohydrate in the form of fruit, porridge, sweet potato or rice.
Q: What's your take on protein shakes?
PD: Protein shakes are a convenient way of getting a serving of protein in after a training session.
In an ideal world we'd all be eating organic real food sources with every meal but after a tough training session or as a snack between meals, protein shakes can be a nice filler that help aid muscle recovery.
Q: For someone who just wants to maintain their fitness/weight etc., is there an ideal amount or type of exercise that should be achieved each day or week to just be generally healthy?
PD: My biggest advice with exercise is to shoot for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 4-5 times a week. Moderate intensity means you get your heart rate up and break a sweat.
That doesn't have to be the gym. I believe that someone who forces themself to go the gym is never going to see success in the long-term as they'll never sustain something long-term that they don't enjoy.
Instead, find a form of exercise you enjoy and run with it. It could be horse riding, martial arts, beginners, gymnastics, anything!
When you enjoy an activity, you want to get better at it and you stay consistent long-term.
Q: What's your mental mantra during Tough Mudder?
PD: The way I see it, you are running through mud and muck for three hours having fun with your friends and meeting new, like-minded people.
Once the race finishes you'll be back to the real world so you might as well enjoy every step of the 20km journey and not be concerned with how quick you finish.
Q: What do people need to keep in mind on the morning of Tough Mudder?
PD: There will always be some nervous energy but I always tell people to think about the tens of thousands of people who have done Tough Mudder all over the world, have gotten through it and had a blast doing it!
Again, when else are you going to get a chance to run around with your friends carefree and feel like a kid again without a worry in the world?
Q: Do you have one key piece of advice for surviving Tough Mudder?
PD: My biggest advice would be to help the people around you.
I know people who have sprinted through the courses and missed out on what Tough Mudder is about.
It's some of the last people to cross the line that have the most enjoyable experiences by helping and being helped by other people.