World’s Toughest Mudder Training: Tips for Completing 25 Miles

Published on June 25, 2014 by Matt Alesevich

While there will indeed be a World’s Toughest Mudder winner, being the first to cross the finish line is far from the only reward of the day. In fact, simply staying on the 5-mile military obstacle course circuit for the entire 24-hour race is reason enough to celebrate. Knowing this, leading up to World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) in Las Vegas on November 15, 2014, we’ll be highlighting the training and preparation regimens of a variety of Mudders with different mileage goals.

Today’s featured Mudders? Two Mudder Legionnaires with 27 collective headbands aiming to hit the 25-mile mark at WTM later this year.

Why not get started by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Dan Staples: I’m a math teacher from the Jersey Shore. I ran my first Tough Mudder in 2010, and I’ve since earned 24 [Tough Mudder finisher] headbands, attending events in 10 different states. There’s no place I’d rather be than on course with my fellow Mudders. If people behaved in real life the way they behave at Tough Mudder, the world would be a better place.

Lia Marley: I live in Las Vegas, the home of WTM 2014 and moved here from Seattle. I am a fitness specialist at a casino company’s corporate fitness facility and a former University of Washington cheerleader who taught cheer camp professionally for five years. I’ve completed three Tough Mudders with teams sizing from 11 to 35 Mudders.

What inspired you to register for World's Toughest Mudder 2014?

DS: I've been a part of Mudder Nation since my first event in the fall of 2010, and I’ve attended each of the first three World's Toughest Mudders. Seeing firsthand what these incredible athletes put themselves through was an absolute inspiration, and I made it a bucket list item to one day be a competitor.

LM: I love doing Tough Mudders, so when TMHQ decided to bring it to my backyard, I couldn't say no. You've mentioned that your goal is 25 miles in 24 hours.

How are you planning your pace?

DS: From 10am to sundown the course conditions will be optimal, so between those hours I plan on taking really brief pit stops and just getting in as many miles as possible. A 45-minute per mile pace would allow for just over five total hours of pit time/recovery, so I'm using that as my initial guide.

LM: I'm planning on my longest laps taking 2 hours, which puts me at a very conservative ten active hours to finish my goal. This leaves time for rest and refueling as needed and one longer sleep break. With all that said, nothing is set in stone when it comes to events like this, so I'm flexible.

What is your pre-race meal and what will you eat during the race?

DS: Definitely a nice dish of pasta with chicken and broccoli. Last year all the athletes met up for dinner the night before, and I'm sure that will happen again. During the race, I'll stick to things that are easily digestible like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, supplement gels and electrolyte tabs.

LM: Pre-race I plan on eating what I eat every day before I train: three whole eggs and apple and almond butter. During the event, I will focus on carbohydrates and fat sweet potatoes, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc. Protein will be key to keep my stomach happy, but I won’t eat it at every pit stop. This year, WTM will be in the desert for the first time ever.

How will this affect your training?

DS: There is a perfect spot right near my house that is all soft sand, and I plan on spending lots of time there training to acclimate to the conditions we'll face in Vegas. I also feel that this year will be less about the gear and more about the training since we likely won't be facing below-freezing temperatures.

LM: I live in Las Vegas and have done every Vegas Tough Mudder. The Lake Las Vegas Tough Mudder was the muddiest one I've ever done. This mud absolutely sticks to you. In regards to training, my long runs on the weekend will be outside no matter what. I feel I'm well prepared for anything the weather and Vegas conditions can throw at me.

Embrace the suck and have fun doing it.

In a typical week, what does your training consist of?

DS: Not enough. I'm just getting back to high intensity interval training and focusing on dropping weight. Over the summer that translates to training five days a week and mixing it up to include running at different times throughout the day and night. Last weekend I participated in an all night-long Relay For Life with 40 pounds of bricks on me. This past weekend I ran Tough Mudder Virginia.

LM: My typical training week is three days on/one day off. My first three days I go to CrossFit, do an Olympic lifting morning session and a treadmill hill run evening session, and another CrossFit session. My next 3 days on consist of a long run, Olympic lifting session and another CrossFit session.

Where do you train and what sort of outdoor training do you do?

DS: I do high intensity interval training at my local gym, and I complete an obstacle race of some sort about once every two to three weeks during the summer. I also have a long, slow-paced run planned with my friend and fellow Mudder, Ken Jacobus, once a week. He’s completed WTM twice, so I can pick his brain about what to expect.

LM: I train at Summerlin CrossFit, where I also coach. I also train at a corporate fitness facility, where I am a full-time fitness specialist. My outdoor training consists of running around in the desert around my house in Vegas. There is plenty to explore.

Having done Tough Mudders before, what advice do you have for other WTMers looking to hit the 25 mile mark?

DS: Break the course into chunks and keep your thoughts on what is directly in front of you--the next obstacle or the next water station. It will be a mental game for sure, especially since time is not a factor in a regular Tough Mudder.

LM: I see the mental aspect as the biggest challenge to overcome. Listen to your body and conserve energy where possible so you can push later on. Take breaks after completing each lap and remember to “embrace the suck” and have fun doing it.

What will your gear consist of?

DS: Definitely gloves, two pairs of trail runners and compression shorts to prevent chafing. I'm gambling on not needing a wetsuit since the average temps are 43 degrees, but I’m bringing long sleeve compression gear to use during the night hours.

LM: The temperature can seriously drop overnight here, so I have my wetsuit ready. I also bought some paddling gloves for warmth and in case my hands tear up. Other essentials are my headlamp and plenty of extra clothes (especially socks). I keep a close eye on the WTM community on Facebook to ensure I’m well prepared.

For those who have never done a Tough Mudder before, what can they expect from the experience?

DS: Oh man, I have been at every World's Toughest Mudder and the camaraderie is just amazing. Even with thousands of dollars on the line you will still see competitors helping their fellow Mudders out and working to get through it together. I think that shared suffering really forges bonds, and I just can't wait to be a part of it.

LM: Camaraderie is what really sings at a Tough Mudder-- it's in the air and in the culture. Even when it sucks and you are cold and afraid, you realize you are having a ton of fun with a bunch of crazy people just like you. There is an infectious pride at the finish line.

Got a unique or badass WTM training regimen? We want to hear it. Hit us up at [email protected].