Insanity Training AKA The Road to Tough Mudder

So last year I did something a little bonkers and signed up for Tough Mudder this coming May. I’m not completely sure what possessed me, other than a girl at work did it and I figured if she could then surely it was within my means. I mean how hard could it be? According to the website, “Tough Mudder is a team-oriented 10-12 mile (18-20 km) obstacle course designed to test physical strength and mental grit. Tough Mudder puts camaraderie over finisher rankings and is not a timed race but a team challenge that allows participants to experience exhilarating, yet safe, world-class obstacles they won’t find anywhere else.” Still doesn’t sound that bad though right? Not until you consider that, “only 78% of participants successfully complete a Tough Mudder course. You’ll need to do serious training if you want to be one of them. Each Tough Mudder course will have varying terrain, mud, water, ropes, walls, and fire designed to push you to your limit.” Ooh-kay, maybe a little harder that I’d first assumed.

I still signed up though.

Last summer I started by focussing on running. I used the NHS Couch to 5k podcasts and, with the help of the ever perky and slightly annoying Laura, got myself running again. My goal was to be doing 5k by Christmas. I managed it once. Time and injuries have meant the best I’ve consistently managed was 3-4k. Still, not bad considering. I’d also supplemented this with a couple of sessions a week of the PopSugar TMAC Flow Yoga Workout and, once a week, the Geri Halliwell yoga DVD. Come September and my promotion to Head of College and I was lucky to run more than 3 times a week, yoga and TMAC flow was well out. Consequently, I wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted to be by the end of the year.

To compensate, I signed up for the gym in January and, with the help of a personal trainer settled on a programme to help me get fully ready for May. Having spent good money on membership, I made a point of going 3 or 4 times a week and I started running again with more regularity. I’d damaged my knee at New Years and so didn’t always do as much as I’d liked but, the combination of a knee brace and exercises designed to strengthen my knee meant more time doing and less time recovering. Until the trapped nerve.

I honestly thought, at that point, it was game over. I spent the best part of a week in total agony, even prepared myself and my friend Steph – whose team I’m on – for the worst. I spent a weekend resting and taking paracetamol and ibuprofen in the hope it would ease things enough for me to continue training. It did, but I’d also lost another week. I was looking at less than two months before the big day. At that point, my friend Stu suggested Insanity as the best option. If that didn’t prepare me in time, nothing would. I looked into getting hold of a copy but, at £150 or so ruled it out and decided to opt for the 20 minute workout available on YouTube.

Fate, which I seriously thought had had it in for me, threw me a line when my work friend Ella offered to lend me her copy. With a genuine sense of trepidation I took her up on her offer.

Last Monday I took the Fit Test which turned out not to be too horrific. I can do this, I thought. Tuesday’s Plyometric Cardio Circuit went reasonably well until the Level 1 Drills. Dreadful! I genuinely struggled to cope with push ups, holding the plank position and running, jumping up out of the plank and then back down for four push ups and on. After that, the Ski Abs and In-out Abs seriously did for me. Wednesday brought Cardio Power and Resistance. If I thought Plyometric was bad, Cardio Power was worse. So much more jumping around. I spent a fair amount of time lying face down on the carpet claiming I couldn’t go on. I had Ella over and she spent the time mainly shouting encouragement at me. Cardio Recovery on Thursday turned out to be more like yoga with a bit of cardio, that I could cope with and Friday’s Pure Cardio wasn’t anywhere near as dreadful as I thought it was going to be. Especially as, at the start of the workout Shaun T says how nervous he is about what’s coming up. Generally when the guy who invented the workout is nervous, yo know it’s going to be tough. Turns out, compared to some of the other sessions, not that bad. I  took Saturday as an early  rest day as my shoulder had decided to flare up again and so Sunday saw me preparing for another  session of Plyometric Cardio. I managed to get through the warm up session and only really struggled with the Level 1 Drills. I doubt they’re going to get much easier.

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I should have done Cardio Power and Resistance this evening but, after a five period teaching day, had no energy to even give it a reasonable go. I’m already doubling up on Tuesday and Wednesday’s as ‘m away over the weekend and won’t get them all  done otherwise. Now I need to decide if I’m going to try and fit it in or if I’m  going to let it beat me and ignore it for this week. I suspect I’ll bump it over to next Monday and do it before the Fit Test as I refuse to be beaten but time will tell. I’m certainly not stupid enough to try to do it tomorrow with Pure Cardio and Cardio Circuit. That would be plain ridiculous!


Tough Mudder UK official site –

NHS Coouch to 5K –

PopSugar/TMAC Flow workout –

Insanity Workout Official Page –

Useful blog on the Insanity Workout –


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