Lazeegirl Challenge #2 Tough Mudder

Getting Military Fit for 12 mile obstacle run (in Scotland)

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03/01/2012 at 22:56

Hello Everyone,

 I'm a single mum of 3 and my youngest child is 4 years old.  I will be (the dreaded!) 40 this year.

I've decided to enter for Tough Mudder 2012 in Scotland (where I live).  This thread will be my blog of my training for that particular race/challenge.  I would welcome support and comment from anyone on  RW.

Some of you might know that I first came on this site in January last year with the New Year Resolution to run a marathon.  On Runner's World, that's nothing unusual, but back then, I hadn't exercised for over 20 years and could even walk a mile, let alone run one and I had only 16 weeks to prepare for the Edinburgh marathon.  Well, I managed to complete the marathon - although it took me 6 and a half hours (my goal was only ever to finish).

Since completing the marathon, my training has lapsed.  There are a few reasons for that - I couldn't run for a while after the marathon in order to recover, during which time I had took on a very demanding job, then I was preparing for my viva, so sitting around, studying, for long periods of time. 

I know, they are "excuses", but I did say at the start of my thread last year that I needed a very definite goal (then, the marathon) to keep me on track.  This year, I have decided to do Tough Mudder because I became really bored by the marathon training towards the end and, although I was much fitter by the end of it than I had ever been, I didn't do any other type of exercise except running.

Tough Mudder ( is different - it's a military style obstacle course over a 10-12 mile distance and there's lots of mud!  As well as your usual hills and rough terrain, there's also climbing 12 foot high walls (wooden and wet), crawling through stinging nettles, swimming in freezing water, going across greased monkey bars, walking over fire and running through a field of things that give you electric shocks (yes, really!).  I'm not not of a masochist and this is probably a typical mid-life crisis(?!) but I decided this might prompt me into developing my overall fitness as well as my running (which is rubbish).

Before I go over my space limit, I will stop this message here...

03/01/2012 at 23:04

Okay, so for my training.  I have so far decided to follow the British Army's 16 week training course that their instructors use to get new recruits fit.  I will be modifying that slightly because for the press-ups, sit-ups and squats (the latter's not in the army programme at least in the first few weeks I've read), I plan to follow the training plans on

In addition - Im thinking about doing a military fitness class for 1 hour a week in my local park to get some more ideas/motivation/company and for the running, to rejoin Jog Scotland as well as the army training plan.

The trouble is, I tried the "initial test" tonight and I couldn't even do one push-up!  I then tried a half press-up (legs bent at knees beind me) but struggled to do 2 of them :} so had to do a "wall push-up" imstead!

The good thing is that I have around 28 weeks this time to get fit - a much more realistic goal (I hope!) than my 16 weeks (including taper!) for a marathon. 

So who's with me? 

Edited: 03/01/2012 at 23:06
03/01/2012 at 23:13

Another thing is that after the marathon, I did my local park run a few times and, after 26.2 miles, a 5k should have been very easy, but on the last time I went, I gave up after only 5 minutes.  Now, I keep on giving up very early into runs and just walk.  It's as though I have conditioned myself to thinking that I can't run any more.  Has anyone else experienced that?  How did you overcome it?

Lately, I have just been sprinting the length of a football field (sometimes up and down it) and walking the rest of the time.  The long slow runs of my marathon training seem a distant memory.  Admittedly, there was a fair bit of walking then too, but I could run for a few miles.  I'm not sure I could even do a mile now!  I need to get back into running again.  It's maybe more of a mental block than anything.

Before, I couldn't even walk anywhere, but now I can comfortably walk 4-8 miles.  I haven't tried walking more than that lately.

Any tips greatly appreciated! 

03/01/2012 at 23:51

It's that time of year where I have this rose-tinted view of my exercise goals.  Mostly, that involves reading about exercise online and writing about it on here!  But it also involves BUYING stuff, as though, somehow, that will make me more determined and fitter without me actually doing a stroke.

I kid ye not - in the last few days, I have:

done loads of "online research"

devised a training plan

bought a book (something about the paras' fitness training because I've already downloaded the core of the army training plans)

have a virtual "basket" full of new running gear and shoes in an online sports shop (but can I really justify that because I still have all the gear, including 2 pairs of trainers, from my short marathon training last year)

I have also ordered a Kelly Holmes' weighted skipping rope and a shake weight from Tesco (why, I'm not sure yet...) and

a pull up par and some push-up discs from Amazon

I almost bought some expensive ab trainer - thank goodness for Youtube where someone sensible quashed all the amazing claims for a six-pack in 7 weeks for 3 minutes a day that I almost gullibly fell for!)

 I have also been scouring my local free ads for cheap, used fitness equipment, such as treadmills (which I hate!); cross trainers and treadmills...

 All of this is just proscrastination/kidding myself that I am actually "doing" something!

All I did today was a quick sprint, some wall push-ups nd a couple of half press-ups (that I eventually managed with great effort).

I am on the Army's very unfit range so far...

Will any of this motivate me?

Edited: 04/01/2012 at 00:04
04/01/2012 at 08:06
Hi Lazeee Girl - can't believe it's a whole year since your 2011 marathon thread.

Whilst I'm slightly disappointed you didn't keep up your new found fitness I'm not surprised... as a single mum with 3 children aged under 4, a demanding job and your studying I'm more surprised you have time to breathe let alone train as well!!

This will be a tough challenge! You have until July but the best advise I can give you is that consistency is key. There is no quick route to fitness especially the kind of all over body fitness you will require for this one. So stop shopping, thinking, researching and planning and just get on with it. Reading about exercise doesn't actually count as exercise anymore than buying kit for exercise does!

Are you a gym member? Getting the advice of a PT might help.
04/01/2012 at 10:06

Thanks for this, Tigerlily.  fortunately, I don't have 3 children under 4 - only the youngest is 4, the other two are at school! :}

I have signed up for a trial with some army PT instructors who give military fitness classes in my local park.  I have done an induction at my local gym (albeit last year for the marathon training) but I prefer the outdoors.  The army training teaches you to improvise by using whatever "equipment" is around you and I have actually seen people taking part in these classes while I've been walking in the park.  They do pressups and push-ups against railings and fences, use their partners to do exercises, carry and pull everyday objects and use hills and stairs to train.  So it is true that I don't need anything in terms of equipment.

I haven't been able to get outside to make a start yet because, here in Scotland, the children are still on holiday from school for another week and we have had "red alert" weather - with the railway stations and motorways closed off because travel (and being outside) has been dangerous because of the hurricane type gale force winds we've had, causing roofs to come off and a lot of trees to come down.  I'd brave it myself, but I'd have to take the children with me and that's not fair...

I know that there's plenty of things I could be doing indoors.  I made a bit of a start last night, trying to do the press-ups.   I'm hoping to be able to go from a "cheating" wall press-up, to comfortable half press-ups then onto the real thing.  I have never been able to do a press-up in my life, so being able to do one would be a great achievement.  I also did a number of reps with light dumbells, and some kind of dips between my two kitchen worktops.  The push-ups and the dip-type things really worked my stomach:  it felt like really hard work around my middle anyway, even though I thought I was only using my arms.  Bearing my own weight felt quite strenuous.  I also have two flights of stairs handy at home that I can use for my cardiovascular training :}

I have downloaded all the army training booklets and they are really good - showing in great detail how to warm up and do each exercise.  Their main cardiovascular exercise is running.  Their initial fitness only requires 1.5 miles, but I need to get myself back up to 12 miles!

04/01/2012 at 10:26
Ha! Ha! I did think 3 kids aged under 4 was good going... Still, you are still managing to fit a lot in!

I've done the military fitness groups in Derby when I was working there - I used to twice a week to the park and it was great fun...Their instructors are brilliant and will help ensure you're targeting key areas correctly. I'd suggest you need to be able to comfortably run up to 15 miles at a slow pace - endurance will be key as well as strength.

Yeah - the weather in Scotland has been grim - my son is in Glasgow. Even he (the master of understatement,) said "it's a bit windy" yesterday when I phoned him! He goes into the army next week for basic training having passed their fitness test with flying colors.

Good luck with this - I'm pretty sure you'll manage it!
04/01/2012 at 11:00

15 miles?  Moan, groan...but yes, you're right.

And I'm impressed that your son passed the tests with flying colours.   If I can just follow the plan to the end, I'll be happy.

 Thanks, Tigerlilly!

04/01/2012 at 12:03

Hey LG, welcome back! Not sure I'd make the same choice of event, but that's just me. (I'm still chasing marathon times; lurking in the sub 3:15 thread.)

Reflecting on last year's effort, is there anything you'll try to do differently this year?

04/01/2012 at 12:33

Hi Rennur,

Chasing a sub 3.15?  Wow!  That's less than half the time it took me...What marathon are you doing this year?  Edinburgh again?  Are you in the Asics team?

I'm not sure what I would do differently, reflecting on last year, because from where I am right now, I'm impressed that I actually stuck with all the training and saw it through to the end.  The worry about taking on a new challenge is more of a feeling of failure and then destroying what I had built up - negating my success with the marathon if I don't see this one through.  That's why I came back to RW to publicise my efforts - telling other people about my plans on here holds me accountable to other people (does that seem daft?).

I should have done more to try and keep up my fitness after the marathon.  But I am still a lot fitter that I was before I started (or at least, I can walk much further) and long miles aren't as daunting.  I certainly wak more than I did (and the dog's happier anyway), but it's not enough.  I want to look great and be in the best physical condition of my life when I turn 40 just after Tough Mudder!  They have awards for 'least dressed' (I think), so I might even do it in a bikini :}  If I'm going to be old, I want to act as disgracefully as I can. 

As soon as my children go back to school and nursery next week, I'm going to put on my trainers and go for a run.  Luckily, the military fitness class has childcare at the park (yay!) so I'm going for my trial tomorrow night.  It's expensive though, so I'll only be able to do that one day a week and will have to train myself the rest of the week.

I'm going to sign up for Jog Scotland again this week and go out with them once a week too to try to get me going again.  I can't even remember the post run stretches.

The good thing about this new challenge is that the event itself doesn't take place until July, so I will have to train for 6-7 months before I can give up this time!  Ha ha, maybe I should sign up for the Loch Ness marathon while I'm at it, keep me going that bit longer :}

 My older children aren't impressed by the idea of my latest challenge - my daughter is worried I'll end up "looking like Madonna".  Personally, I think Madonna looks great for her age...

04/01/2012 at 12:48
"If I'm going to be old I want to act as disgracefully as I can" - you consider 40 old???..... Hobbles off to find her zimmer frame..... Do you feel old? Please don't tell me you're haveing a crisis LG!! But I think I understand where you're coming from. You need to alter your mindset to "Madonna looks great." Full stop. Age needn't come into it!

As a runner I won't add that Loch Ness is my favourite road marathon... you'd love it!
04/01/2012 at 13:31

Well Tigerlily, I didn't add the bit about the age to my children - just that Madonna looks great - I only added it here because she is older than me and I'm jealous that I don't look as good as  her as I head for my 40th (and she's over 50, I think).

I don't really "feel" old.  My children are constantly telling me I'm old and asking me about "the olden days" :}  but a lot of people I know who have been 40 in the last few years have seemed really depressed about it.  I think that's why I wanted to fulfill a few personal goals beforehand, so that I don't get to that classic mid-point and regret not doing enough with my life.  I keep reminding myself of my age in the last couple of years in the hope that such a "big" birthday won't come as such a shock.

In other ways, I do feel a bit worn out lately - I don't seem to have a lot of time for myself.  The marathon training was great in that I made sure I took that time to do something I wanted and being fit gives you more energy.  The closest I've got lately is dropping a Tesco 'B-Active' efferfescent vitamin pill into a glass of water in the mornings to wake me up, followed by a cup of coffee! 

We joke that my mum (who's in her 60s) is much younger than me because she's still going out to nightclubs and partying on boozy holidays abroad and staying out past 4am.  I've also recently become friends with a man who's 80 and who maintains his own website (amongst all of his other interests), which I'm impressed with because I need someone else's help with things like that.  I have always associated new technogology with youth (e.g. I have a basic mobile, while my 2 older children have a Blackberry/Android phones), so it's obvious that I do have some silly prejudices. State of mind is obviously more important than actual age.

 I also read recently that the body shouldn't be thought of as simply something that carries the brain around - that has always been exactly my way of thinking - I have never really appreciated my body for what it can do and for how much it makes me "me".

04/01/2012 at 14:05
OK... I admit I was a bit depressed when I hit 40 but it's so long ago now that I'd forgotten about it! It really is just a number though - you are 39... that's just the same as being 40 isn't it?

Personally, I DO see my body as just being the thing that carry's "me" around. What is important to me is that I only have one body, it's not like you can get spare parts when bits stop functioning correctly (well, you can but it's not easy to run with a knee/hip replacement!) So, in light of that you owe it to your body to look after it. I've always thought that if you don't use it - you lose it and this is valid whether its your brain or your other body parts. So to make your body the strongest it can be (and I'm not talking weight-lifting here!) is important. Your body is an amazing thing - it is so well designed to do things - it lets us get away with abusing it and with just a little TLC and maintenance it can perform admirably into what 80% of the population would class as "old age". Part of that TLC/maintenance is exercise!
04/01/2012 at 14:20

Hi Lazeegirl- I remember your thread last year.

You'll find it easier to get going again this time, as there will be some residual effect of all that trainig last year. Just remember that the first 10-15 minutes of a run often fell bad, you just need to get through that, then you'll find that it gets easier. I read somewhere that you shoud always go for atleast 20 minutes before deciding that you're having an "off" day and giving up- perhpas you just need to slow it down a bit? The other thing is that the first run back after a break always feels bad- you'll be fine!

Good luck.

PS I agree with Tigerlily- the LochNess marathon is the best, and you've actually got the time to train properly this year!

04/01/2012 at 17:26

Well, I've just roped my auntie into starting the military fitness class with me tomorrow - for those of you who followed my 'couch potato to marathon' thread last year, you might remember that she's the one in her 50s who managed to get me started in the snow last year.  I don't remember the snow being as bad as pouring rain and gale force winds though (except on marathon day itself when the wind was really strong).  Even the thought of starting any exercise tomorrow night in the wet and the dark is filling me with dread...

On a better note - under the shiny, bright lights of my local Tesco superstore there, I had a good browse of all the fitness equipment, ended up buying a gym ball (I'm sure I've got an unused one up in the loft from a few years ago...then picked up my delivery of  the skipping ropes and shake weight...

I also noticed a number of fitness DVDs for sale that I've bought over the years (including that Wii fit personal trainer type thing), none of which I have ever used....

Is this goign to be another fad?  The woman who served me tonight did chuckle a bit too loudly, I thought when she looked at the gym ball.

Well, I'd better get the shopping away and get on with trying to perfect my first press-up!

04/01/2012 at 17:55
Gym ball is excellent for core strength - our gym does fit ball classes which are great fun and a great core workout. I have two - in fact I sit on one quite often to watch telly. You have to engage your core so you don't fall off it -it's very lazy workout - I love it!
04/01/2012 at 17:58

Hi Lazeegirl

Good to hear you have a goal for this year and a lot more time for training. I will pop in to read your blog as I enjoyed your journey last year. I managed 2 half marathons very slowly and have entered the Outlaw Triathlon as part of a relay doing the swim and the run.

04/01/2012 at 20:58
Watup LG great to see your still about, see your still having that battle trying to find your inner runner... lol
Hope you have more time for this event as well.

To keep the tradition of the old thread going, im going to be harsh.... Previously I had my concerns, yet with determination and effort you achieved your goal which most certainly impressed me. I think it showed clearly what potential you have, even if you do not realise it yourself.
I think your great and should ensure that this time you do yourself justice, sometimes I feel you short change yourself.... You say the 'dreaded 40' but its not, your viewing the number in the wrong way. Your 40% more active than you were a few years ago, 40% fitter than you were a few years ago.. its a time to celebrate.

Good to have you back though lg.... missed you
Edited: 04/01/2012 at 21:01
04/01/2012 at 21:28
Great post Squeakz! I love the 40% more analogy...
04/01/2012 at 22:47

And I thought you said you were going to be harsh, Squeakz, you old softy!  I don't know about 40% fitter, but I'm feeling a lot sorer tonight!  I didn't know my arms and shoulders could ache like this and for hours!  Even lifting a load of washing from the laundry basket to the machine was sore   Ha ha, I just thought there that this is a great excuse not to do any housework!  I've barely managed a few push-ups on the couch (still working my way towards the half push-up gradually).  Wait, when I say, "on the couch", I meant I was kneeling on the floor and pushing up against the couch (a bit more difficult than the wall, but not as hard as fully on the floor).  I've also been using the "shake weight" I bought and my lightest dumbells.

I tried the squats test and could do 40 easy.  I gave up because I got bored.  I don't think I can be doing them right because that was a "good score" on the initial test and I might even have managed to get excellent.  I just hope my legs aren't aching tomorrow!

I've now got 2 women going with me to the military fitness.  The second, some of you might remember from my old thread, is the one who does all the body pump sessions (for over 10 years) and who did 8-9 miles with me once, easily, even though she never runs.  She is even considering being my team mate in Tough Mudder!  Although I still remember her look of disgust as a muddy dog ran past us that day and splashed her with a tiny bit of mud...she's not great with looking dirty or dishevelled!   Ha ha, I just sold it to her by telling her that 80 or 90% of the other entrants would be fit men (she's newly single)   Let's just hope she doesn't bother looking up the Tough Mudder website and seeing the obtacles or the filthy participants!

Well done on your two halfs (halves?) CJ and good luck on the triathalon.  I keep saying I'll go out on a bike more, maybe this time around, I will....I think I need to swim for Tough Mudder too.

I just hope this training class runs tomorrow, despite the weather - there's a few trees down around here - and that I surive it well enough to force myself to go back.

 I will need to start running again this weekend.  No more putting it off.

Edited: 04/01/2012 at 22:50
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