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7 Training Tips on Preparing for Tough Mudder and Spartan Race

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Guest post:  Deanna McCurdy

Preparing for a race, whether it’s the Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, or other challenge, can seem like a daunting task- especially if it’s your first go-around. With these simple tips on preparing for an upcoming race, you’ll have no problem waltzing onto the battlegrounds and keeping up with the big dogs, possibly ending as a winner.

Preparing for a race, whether it’s the Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, or other challenge, can seem like a daunting task- especially if it’s your first go-around. With these simple tips on preparing for an upcoming race, you’ll have no problem waltzing onto the battlegrounds and keeping up with the big dogs, possibly ending as a winner.

By The National Guard via Flick (CC-BY-2.0)

  1. 1.                  Lose Weight

Trying to win a race when you are carrying extra weight is an obvious recipe for failure. In the few weeks prior to the event, try to lose as much excess weight as possible. This excess weight is doing nothing but weighing you down and leaner contestants will have an easy time passing you up. Just make sure you lose weight in the healthy way with plenty of good foods and exercise. Don’t join a fad diet or eat too few calories or you will end up doing your body more harm than good.

  1. 2.                  Run

One of the best ways to train for a marathon is by running. You’ll obvious be doing a lot of that in the impending event, so you want to build up as much endurance as you can. If you don’t get used to doing a lot of running, start off slow by only doing light jogs, mixing in sprints when you’re ready. Increase the amount of running and intensity of the run each time to build up your legs and endurance. Don’t run every day, as this can be hard on the knees. Instead, try to run at least 3 times a week with a maximum of 5. Overdoing it will do nothing but stress out the body and cause aches and pains before the race.

  1. 3.                  Endurance

There will be many other activities during the Tough Mudder and Spartan Race, and you need to be prepared for everything that comes your way. Instead of focusing on just endurance during running, you also need to worry about the endurance of your entire body. For this part of training for a marathon, you need to do several weight workouts several times a week (on the days you aren’t running). Do plenty of muscle-building on the arms, legs, stomach, and back. This will help your overall performance. But again, don’t do so many muscle workouts that you harm the muscles. Instead, start off light and build up intensity with each workout.

  1. 4.                  Plenty of Rest

When people begin preparing for a Spartan Race or Tough Mudder, they can typically become overwhelmed with everything they need to do. This, in turn, may cause contestants to lose sleep. However, this is very bad for the body and reverses any training that may be done. Make sure your body gets plenty of rest and has ample time to recover.

  1. 5.                  Eat Healthy

Eating healthy is a practice that should be held year round. But if you are just now jumping on the healthy food bandwagon to get prepared for the upcoming marathon, give yourself a pat on the back. Eating healthy is vital for the body, especially when it is training at a high capacity. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and meats to ensure your body is revitalized with proper nutrients. You may opt to start a ‘clean’ or ‘vegan’ diet in the weeks prior to the event.

  1. 6.                  Get the Right Apparel

Working out in the wrong apparel can be incredibly uncomfortable, causing possible damage to the body. Buy the right workout gear, including apparel that supports the body. Pay close attention to shoes, making sure to buy running shoes that offer plenty of comfort and support for the foot. You may consider shopping at Under Armour shoes store as they offer a wide selection of running shoes, and you can use an Under Armour promo code to save on your purchase.

  1. 7.                  Taper

In the week before the event, you should taper off from strenuous runs and workouts. The body needs time to heal and rest before the big occasion, and tapering off is a great way to regain lost strength and leave your body feeling fresh and ready to take on the challenge.

Author Bio: Jane Hudson is an avid blogger with a passion for writing. With over 3 year- experience and a unique writing style, she creates pieces that are interesting to read in relation to fashion, exercise, and deals. Let visit her blog or G+ for more interesting articles.


Military-Style Pull Up Workout

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Pull ups are one of the best upper body workouts that you can do.  They force you to use all of the muscles above your waist in order to reach the top of the bar.  When done correctly (which means not kipping like a CrossFitter) you can seriously transform your upper body strength.  Your pull up workout should be done once a week in order to both maintain and achieve the best possible results.  You can also incorporate your pull up workout with your gym routine.  For example, I do my own personal pull up workout and workout my back muscles on the same day at the gym.  However, it is not imperative that you do both.  It is all about personal preference, as well as one’s own physical condition.  With that being said, you can also tailor the repetitions to fit your own physical abilities.  The repetitions provided in this workout are only a model for you follow.  I hope you enjoy the workout, and feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns while executing this exercise (

Equipment Needed:

- Dip Belt (optional)

- Weighted Plates (optional)

- Pull Up Bar


Pyramid Pull Ups (30-60 seconds of rest between sets):


Set 1: 10 reps

Set 2: 9 reps

Set 3: 8 reps

Set 4: 7 reps

Set 5: 6 reps

Set 6: 5 reps

Set 7: 4 reps

Set 8: 3 reps

Set 9: 2 reps

Set 10: 1 rep (hold your chin above the bar until muscle failure)

*Repeat pyramid sets, but this time work from 1 rep to 10 reps.  Once you’ve completed both pyramids, do the entire workout again as a chin up  workout (palms facing towards you this time).

Soft Star RunAmoc Minimalist Trail Running Shoe Review

Monday, February 27th, 2012


Several months ago I acquired a pair of RunAmoc trail running shoes/moccasins from Soft Star shoes. If you would like to skip all of the details of the review below, I will cut to the chase: I highly recommend these shoes. If you are a barefoot road runner who wants to transition to trails, these would be an ideal choice. If you are a minimalist runner, and want a truly minimal shoe for road or trails, these probably trump any other product on the market when it comes to minimalism.

The sole of the shoe is a composite produced by Vibram, with a very light tread. The thickness is completely uniform and only about 3mm thick. Soft Star also makes a version of the RunAmoc with a thicker sole and aggressive tread, but given my bias towards absolute minimalism (bare), I ordered their ‘street’ shoe. The upper is 100% leather and is perforated throughout for great ventilation. A simple drawstring around the ankle allows the shoe to be secured at the front with a typical knot.

Until a few months ago, I was running between 30 and 60 miles a week (I had to quit running at the end of 2011 while I finished my doctoral degree and searched for a job). Since 2007, I have been a barefoot purist, running without anything on my feet and disliking the way many have used ‘barefoot running’ as a substitute for ‘minimalist running‘. This, of course, has made winter running a bit difficult, as I’ve always been too proud to cover my feet, even when temperatures are sub-freezing (the two exceptions being for December marathons with start temperatures in the 20s). Aside from the two winter marathons that I ran in Land’s End slippers (similar to leather-bottom moccasins), I have run one marathon barefoot, as wells as some 5k and 10k races. I also enjoy summer all-comers track meets, and typically compete in the 1500/mile. To keep myself fit for track racing, my weekly running typically incorporates short intervals at the track (400m) and tempo runs. The majority of my running over the past few years has been done in Durham, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia, but I have also run barefoot as I’ve traveled within the U.S. and abroad.

Benefits of the shoe:soft-star-runamoc-minimalist-trail-running-shoe-review

1. Foremost, these shoes have enabled me to begin trail running. Although I love to mountain bike, I didn’t realize how exhilarating trail-running would be. I’ve used the shoes both for casual runs and for one 15k trail run. In all cases, they performed excellently.

2. The sole of the shoe is truly minimalist. Unlike other minimalist running shoes on the market, the sole of this shoe has a uniform thickness and is quite thin. Even Vibram FiverFingers or Fila Skeletoes add additional material in certain areas around the heel, ball, and toes. The sole uniformity is beneficial because it ensures that the shoe will be less likely to cause problems in a proper barefoot stride, meaning that moving back and forth between barefoot running and RunAmoc running will be as seamless as possible. For me, this means that I can easily interchange days running barefoot on the road and using RunAmocs on the trail, or wearing RunAmocs on cold days and running barefoot on warmer days.

3. The shoes are very lightweight and durable. After a few months of running, they have shown very little wear.

4. The perforated upper makes the shoe very breathable (as well as contributing to the lack of weight). With plenty of air gliding across your foot, you really don’t feel like you’re wearing a shoe.

5. The shoe is quite wide at the ball of the foot, and is not restrictive around the foot – it allows plenty of room for the foot to expand naturally while contacting the ground. Despite this, the shoe never felt too loose while trail running. It always maintained contact with the foot without shifting.

Downsides of the shoe:

1. The shoes left a black residue on my feet during the first few weeks of running. This was not a major problem – just an annoyance.

2. In my personal opinion, the shoes aren’t nearly as cool looking as other products on the market. Soft Star has partly rectified this issue, as they have introduced a number of new moccasins in the latter part of 2011.

3. Given their light weight, and the perforated upper, these shoes are not ideal for very low temperatures (low, of course, is a subjective assessment). They are definitely much better than running completely barefoot on cold pavement, but other shoes on the market would provide more warmth.

I should emphasize one aspect of these shoes: I have found these shoes ideal for trail running, but for many other runners, the sole would be too thin. In particular, if you are a barefoot road runner, seeking to transition to trails, these shoes would probably suit you perfectly. If you are simply looking for a minimalist road running shoe (whether or not you have any experience with minimalist running) these shoes would also probably suit you perfectly. However, if you are looking for a minimalist trail running shoe and don’t have any experience with barefoot running, I believe the RunAmoc with thicker ‘trail’ sole would be better.

In conclusion, I absolutely love my RunAmocs. They have performed well in a variety of conditions and are the most minimal shoe that I have put on my foot. There is no doubt that I will be a long-time Soft Star customer as I will continue to use their products off-road and in cold weather.

Running on Empty Trail Running Book Review

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

running_on_emptyRunning on Empty” is due out today, April 14th and I was able to get a first read, it isn’t a risky investment, it’s well worth the price.  If you want a good read, motivating tale, and dreams of running farther and longer than you ever have before, then this is the book for you.  It’s one of the most inspiring running books I’ve read in a long time and includes a lot of twist and turns.  The focus is on the Run Across America, but the story is all Marshall Ulrich.

In 2008, at age 57, Marshall Ulrich set out to break the Guinness Book of World Record of running across the United States.  The task is to run from San Francisco City Hall to New York City Hall, using any route, in the fastest time possible.  Even though Marshall has a impressive resume he admits that this endeavor was, “…the biggest thing I’d ever done, the hardest, the longest, with the most potential for both injury and enlightenment, my magnum opus.”  Here’s a list of Marshall’s previous accomplishments to put that statement into perspective:

  • “The Last Great Race” – completed all six hundred-mile trail races in one season, finished in the top ten in five of them, first person to do so
  • Badwater 146 – many times, four wins and course records, current record holder for the summit of Mount Whitney
  • Pikes Peak Quad – one of the first, and only person to do it twice
  • Run across Colorado – three times, current record holder
  • Leadville Trail 100 and Pikes Peak Marathon in the same year – only person to do it
  • Eco-Challenges – one of only three people to compete in all nine
  • Badwater solo, unaided and self-contained crossing – first and only person to do it
  • Badwater Quad – first person to do it
  • Summit Mount Everest – reached the top of all Seven Summits on first attempts

So as you can see, Marshall was no rookie to running long distances before embarking on this journey, but he wasn’t always a runner.  When Marshall’s wife Jean was diagnosed with breast cancer in the 80s, the stress he suffered caused hypertensions and a doctor recommend he try running.  Marshall found he had a body built for running long distances and began pushing himself harder and harder.  And pushing away his relationships…

Running on Empty” isn’t just Running Across America with Marshall.  It’s about him running away from his life.  It’s about what it means to be an ultrarunner.  Like Marshall says when referring to his surgically removed toenails done for performance, “Look, the toenails are the least of it.  The kind of sacrifices you make when you’re running hundreds of miles are considerably more profound than whether you’ll ever get a proper pedicure again.”  He goes on to say, “The real sacrifices?  Family relationships often suffer in the ultrarunning community; clearly, mine are no exception.”  During the run his personal revelations turned his world upside down.  Maybe reading this book will give you some perspective and personal revelations…without having to run all the way across America…

If you’re looking for your next good book and some inspiration to push your body further and further on your runs then pick up a copy of “Running on Empty.”  But you don’t have to take my word for it…

Is Gatorade good for Trail Running Hydration?

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

gatorade-hydrationHydration and energy are essential for successful Trails Runs, but is yours being sabotaged by sports drinks?

Sports drinks were originally developed by scientists at the University of Florida in 1965 to help the school’s football players perform better during their 3-hour long games in 100-degree heat. Sound like your Trail Runs? Didn’t think so. Most of us have trail runs that last from 1 to 1 ½ hours at a moderate pace. The American Dietetic Association explains that unless you are an elite athlete or engaged in vigorous activity for more than 1 hour, plain water works perfectly for hydration.

There are two main components of sports drinks that aid in performance and hydration: carbohydrates and sodium. The carbohydrates come in the form of sugar to sweeten the drink and to add calories for energy. The sodium works to replace the sodium lost in sweat. However, neither of the components are necessary in drinks used for thirst and hydration for moderate runs that last less than 1 hour. In fact, drinking sports drinks when they are not necessary can add extra calories to your diet. The usual size 20-ounce bottle of a sports drink has an average of 140 calories, which means that you will have to run an extra 15 minutes just to burn it off!

Instead of drinking regular sports drinks, here are some healthy options:

- Flavor regular water with lemon, lime or orange slices

- Use lower calorie versions of sports drinks such as Gatorade G2 (71 calories per 20-ounce bottle), Propel Fitness Water (25 calories per 20-ounce bottle) or Powerade Zero (0 calories per 20-ounce bottle)

- Dilute your favorite sports drink with regular water

I know what you are thinking. “But I always drink Gatorade during races. It makes me feel better.” And you are right! There are instances when you do need to replace needed calories and energy during or after trail runs. I know that when I am training for half marathons, I tend to get leg cramps at night. What does that say to me? I am losing too much potassium through my sweat and need to replace it better. Ways to do that are through potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, oranges, or sports drinks! Consequently, I usually end my long runs with a large glass of Propel, berry flavor to be exact. The 45 minutes directly after your run is the best time to replenish the body’s losses.

Essentially, think of your body as a night club. As the night goes on, more and more cabs line up to take people home. Just like as your muscles work, they need to be replaced by what they lose, so transporters in your body line up to bring those lost elements from your bloodstream to your muscles and tissues. After the night club closes, people linger for awhile, so the cabs stick around for another 45 minutes or so to assure that everybody is brought home safely. Similarly, in your body, those transporters stick around for about 45 minutes to bring every needed mineral and nutrient available to replenish the muscles and tissues, which help to prevent soreness and cramping.

Moral of the story: Sports drinks work magnificently to replace your body’s losses if you are trail running for longer than 1 1/2 hours, hit that wall during a trail race when you feel your energy bottoms out, or are in need of extra calories and electrolytes. Otherwise, water is your best bet. It will quench your thirst without adding excess calories that you just worked so hard to burn off.

Happy Trail Running and Hydration!

-Lanier Thompson, M.S.

Water Running?

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

For those who are into trail running, this might be the next big thing: water running. We spotted this video on YouTube recently and were intrigued.

Our guess is this is a clever viral marketing campaign by Hi-Tec (the fleeting product shot w/ the Hi-Tec logo gave it away) but who cares – it’s a great video nonetheless. We really like the fact that the whole thing almost seems believable, that it should be possible to at least get a few steps across the water before sinking (luckily the producers knew when to quit and didn’t have the guy run all the way across the lake). Reminds us of the Mythbusters episode where they tried to create Ninja water walking shoes (and failed) but were ultimately able to run across a liquid mixture of corn starch and water without sinking.

Water running – now that’s a real challenge!

What is a Runner’s High?

Monday, April 12th, 2010


Most trail runners have experienced it, some run just to attain it, while others have no idea what a “Runner’s High” is.  If you are a trail runner and have never experienced a Runner’s High then you need to run faster, push your body harder, and attain the point where you lose conscientiousness of what your body is feeling.

A Runner’s High can be described as an elevation of the senses while running, typically long distances and in a natural environment.  It is difficult for trail runners to describe the exact feeling (much like drug users) they get from a Runner’s High, but many equate it to the feeling of an orgasm.  Another good reason to go trail running.

Technically, a Runner’s High is associated with the release of endorphins in the brain.  Endorphins are any group of opiate proteins with pain-relieving properties that are found naturally in the brain.  The word endorphins comes from two parts: endo- and -orphin; which are short forms of the words endogenous and morphine, intended to mean “a morphine like substance originating from within the body.”  Knowing that human cells have receptors for this drug suggests that the body produces its own morphine like substances which it is believed can be released into the body by running long distances and gives trail runners the feeling of a Runner’s High.

While it is difficult to quantify exactly what feeling different trail runners get from this release of endorphins, it is agreed that there is a definite mood change.  The difference in Runners’ Highs can be a positive or negative one with differing levels of intensity.  Maybe that is why many trail runners become so Serious about Running, because they are the type of runners that get this intense positive feedback from running.

Whatever the science is and however your brain reacts to trail running, one thing is certain, there is a typical emotional feeling derived from trail running.  Everyone records their feelings differently but there is always a point during a trail run that your body changes.  So go out for a long trail run, and push to attain a close connection between your mind and body.  Let your mind take over while your feet are still moving, one in front of the other, and you are only aware of one thing…yourself.  Trail running is a free self-awareness seminar!

So say no to drugs and help keep the kids stay off the streets.  Get them running on the trails instead and let’s get hiiiiiiiigh together….on Trail Running.

How fast can the Fastest Humans Run?

Thursday, February 4th, 2010


The human body is built for speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, but is the human body built more for speed or more for comfort?  Well this may depend on the individual; however, analyzing the fastest human being, Usain Bolt, scientists have found that even though the human frame is built to handle running speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, there are other limiting factors that do not allow humans to run this fast.  The limiting factor is not how much brute force is required to push off the ground, but how fast our muscled fibers can contract to ramp up force.  Usain Bolt has run at a top speed is 27.3 miles per hour, enough to get a speeding ticket in a school zone, but not fast enough to match other animals like cheetahs, horses, dogs, or even a hopping kangaroo which can travel up to 35 miles per hour.


Scientists’ previous work does not reveal whether it is the amount of time a runner’s foot is on the ground or the force created which increases speed.  In testing athletes, scientists found that while hopping on one leg humans generated more power than these speedy animals.  Scientists also found that when running backwards, athletes used the same amount of steps as when running forward but with a decrease in speed.  From this they concluded that generating force more quickly during the limited time the foot is on the ground is the only way to increase speed.  The reason these animals are able to run faster that humans is because their spines actually bend when their feet strike the ground, allowing their feet to be on the ground longer, generating more force.

This study reminds us of the great Roger Bannister who was the first to break the four minute mile barrier.  After a devastatingly poor performance at the 1952 Olympics, Roger decided he would set a new goal to break the 4 minute mile.  The world record for the mile had been a couple of seconds above 4 minutes for the 9 years prior and many experts believed it was not humanly possible to run a mile in under 4 minutes, even though humans are built to run long distances.  However, Roger shattered the experts beliefs and broke the 4 minute mile barrier!

Now that we know that humans can run a mile in under 4 minutes, maybe someday we will be able generate force more quickly and finally be able to run faster than a hopping kangaroo.

Running in a Wolfpack

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010


Are you a lone wolf runner?  Have you ever wanted to start your own wolfpack of runners, slashing through the woods and engulfing the streets in your local domain?  The movie “The Hangover” gives a good example of what it means to be in a wolfpack; check out this funny clip.  So how do you start your own pack of running wolves?

First, you must learn your domain.  Take some time as a lone wolf runner to learn the area around you and come up with some great running routes.  Running wolves like to join wolfpacks that vary in locations and distances from week to week, but starting from the same home base.  Wolves are very territorial.  Pick a central location for your running wolf pack to meet and mix up the routes with trails and streets in your area.  Wolves love to run through the woods, but also like crowding the streets at night while potentially howling at the moon.

Once you have your wolfpack routes, visit your local running club to recruit runners to join your wolfpack.  Make sure to run with runners of similar ability, age, and training schedule.  Running wolves like to go fast, so they typically want to join a wolfpack that challenges their ability, but provides support from the pack.

Running in a wolfpack can be very beneficial for all types runners.  For instance, if one wolf gets injured, the rest of the pack can take the runner back to safety.  It is particularly beneficial to run with a wolfpack at night because potential attackers will be likely to attack a pack than you running as a lone wolf.  Running in a wolfpack will also increase your performance as you vie for positioning within the pack.  You can organize a wolfpack, but that doesn’t make you the leader of the pack.  Push yourself to become top dog.

Running in wolf packs can be a great way to expand your social circle and develop a tight group of similar wolf runners.  You can even go to races and wear the same T-shirts!  Check out this sweet wolf pack T-shirt; don’t forget to read the customer comments, they’re pretty entertaining.

Here is more information to help you find the perfect running partners for your wolfpack.  At first you were one wolf in a running wolfpack, now there can be two wolves in the pack, so it’s a pack of two…running wolves

2010 is the Year of the Run

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

2010 is the Year of the Run and we at are seriously excited.  2010 is going to see a massive increase in new runners across all types of running:  Trail running, Urban Running, Road Races, any running; they are all  going to gain popularity in 2010.  In 2009 we saw an increase in marathon participants and Trail Running races.  We at don’t normally quote ourselves, but when you’re right…

I came across an article in the Mansfield News Journal the other day talking about the second running boom spreading across America.  The first boom came in 1972 when Frank Shorter won the Olympic Marathon.  About the same time period as the Frisbee boom and the not-showering boom.  I’m glad that the running boom has been the only boom to stick around.  So why would there be another boom if Americans’ interest in running hasn’t changed?  The economy.  As people begin to lose their wealth they have begun to get back to the basics and appreciate the simpler things in life again, like running.  I’m actually going to take it one step further and say the next real boom is going to be trail running.  You heard it here first.  It’s going to be like the running boom of the 70s but now because our society has more of an emphasis on nature, the environment, and getting away from concrete jungles, trail running is going to be the spark of the next running boom.  Trail Running is the heat, but is also a cool way to escape the heat of global warming.  Help start the fire and participate in National Trail Running Day!  The heat is…on.
At any rate, whether it is trail running or road running, Americans are finding their love for running again.  Finally people are doing something with their Saturday mornings other than playing endless bocce ball tournaments.  So lame.  So why does a bad economy make for a good running economy?  Because running is cheap.  The biggest cost is running shoes and even those you can get really cheap on  The only other cost is race entries but you don’t have to participate in races to make running your hobby.  Running is universal, anyone can do it, even two year olds can do it!
Although the economy is the biggest factor to this new running boom, I think our realization that obesity is becoming a large problem, even in our children, has made running more popular as well.  People are realizing that even though any size is beautiful, not every size is healthy.  Our society is deeply rooted in eating unhealthy.  It tastes good and is easy to do.  Even the Girl Scouts peddle delicious cookies ever year.  What are we suppose to do?  Not eat them?  Of course not.  The solution; go running and exercise while continuing to enjoy delicious these treats.

So jump on the bandwagon and go running!  Wait, how can you run while on a bandwagon?