Breaking News: You Don't Have to Run a Half Marathon to Complete a Tough Mudder

By Corey Maillette | July 14, 2016


Let’s get one thing straight – you don’t need to run 10-12 miles in order to complete a Tough Mudder. What you do need is total body strength, a little conditioning, the support of your team, and Mudder Nation to cross the finish line.

Though a Tough Mudder is just a couple of miles shy of a half marathon, you don’t need to run the 13.1 miles it takes to complete a half in order to complete a Tough Mudder.  But knowing that you can will instill a confidence in you that’ll make for a successful day in the mud.

People often think that training for a long distance run is just about pounding the pavement - day, after day, after day. However, a good half marathon program includes more than just logging daily mileage and long runs.

Certain components of half marathon training are the perfect complement to preparing for event day. Intervals, bodyweight exercises and cross training strengthen the whole body, while the weekly mileage will amp up cardio endurance prepping you for 10-12 miles in the mud.

Whether you use the tips below as part of Tough Mudder training, or actual half marathon preparation, one thing is for sure - you’ll see some surprising benefits both on, and off, the course.


Want to get through 13.1 miles as fast as possible? You’ll need  to add some speed work into your program. Short periods of high-intensity running will help you decrease your overall pace. These quick bouts of explosive speed can be utilized during obstacles like Everest 2.0. There’s no such thing as jogging up Everest. The slick, 15’ foot quarter pipe with a curved top requires you to launch into an all-out sprint while reaching toward the encouraging hands of your teammates waiting at the top.

Bodyweight Exercises

Running may strengthen certain muscles in the legs, but last time we checked, the body is made up of more than just legs. It’ll take more than just lower body strength to cross the finish line. Bodyweight exercises engage your entire body, strengthening areas like your core and upper body, along with the muscles in your legs that might not get as much love when running.

Add some spice to your long run recipe by adding a circuit of bodyweight exercises every ½ mile, or 10 minutes, including push ups, planks, squats, and burpees. When you make it to Funky Monkey 2.0 you’ll be able to tackle those bars, trapeze and iron pipe with your new arms of steel.

Cross Training

Most half marathon programs will include rest days and cross training days to give your legs a break and keep em fresh. Cycling, yoga, and swimming are common workouts that runners will sprinkle into their training regimen. Swimming is low impact and puts your lungs to work without beating up your legs. It’ll also get you comfortable in the water for the Block Ness Monster and King of the Swingers. Yoga helps keep you flexible, which will come in handy when you’re trying to swing your leg over Berlin Walls. Finally, cycling helps increase leg strength, crucial when you are slogging through Mud Mile 2.0, trying to keep your feet from getting sucked into the quicksand-like mud.