The biggest challenge of all


The biggest challenge of all

From last year’s experience, I know I can cycle a hundred miles. I might not have been as fast as I’d like, but I was able to put myself through it and my recovery time was pretty good. This year as part of my challenges I signed up for a few tougher cycling events in addition to Pedal for Scotland in September, just to raise the bar a little and keep me motivated to train harder through the year.

However, I’m not a huge fan of the long endurance rides. I don’t think spending six or seven hours in the saddle is as much fun as a manageable two or three hour ride that leaves plenty of time in the day for other things. My first ride of this year is a 45 miler in May that I’m quite looking forward to. Training for a 45 mile ride with some tough climbs is doable when you have a busy family life, while training for 100 mile rides isn’t quite as practical.

To that end I decided to limit number of cycling events I signed up for so I don’t end up in a constant onslaught of training for and participating in events. This left the door open up for some other fitness challenge, though, and when my old college mate Eoan suggested doing the Tough Mudder, I had to have a serious think about it.

I’ve seen videos of Tough Mudder events before and I thought they looked crazy. The obstacles are torturous, the people taking part look like the kind of physical specimens I’ve only flirted with being a couple of times in my life, and the difficulty level is well beyond anything I’ve ever attempted before. Heck, even the 10-12 mile run/slog that knits together the obstacles is the kind of distance I’ve never attempted to run before.

I’ve done a couple of 5k events and an 8k that I didn’t enjoy that very much at all. That was seven years ago. I was practically a spring chicken back then – I was going to the gym regularly and I had no kids to come home to. The thought of training for something far more difficult had me siding with telling Eoan “thanks, but no thanks!” and leaving it at that.

Then I discovered that Tough Mudder Scotland takes place the day after my 40th birthday. I already have my Buff for my Birthday challenge going on, so if I can manage that and have an event lined up to test how successful that particular challenge has been, well – that’s a compelling scenario. 😀

The Tough Mudder training programme looks brutal. As it should be. I, on the other hand, have been engaging in a training regime that mostly consists of an hour twice weekly (at best) on the cross trainer and the weights I have in the garage, plus infrequent use of a crunch machine that’s in the way on my bedroom floor.

I concede that my approach thus far is somewhat unlikely to ensure that I crossing the finish line in the lead pack. However, I have bought a box of protein bars and I’m actually making steady progress on the Buff for my Birthday front. No, I’m not exactly a dead ringer for Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, but I’m nicely toned thus far and the strength will come if I keep at it and build up the weights as I go.

Once I’m done with the first cycling challenge of the year in May I actually have a clean slate until Tough Mudder Scotland. That means two whole months where I can focus my efforts solely on the conditioning I’ll need for the assault course obstacles and the running. That’s not too bad, considering it’s not really a race – it’s more about the team work and helping each other through it.

If I can keep my discipline and do my bit as part of the team, the Tough Mudder could be one of the most memorable challenges I’ll do in my life. Can’t think of a better way to mark my 40th birthday. 🙂