Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Cross Training is Amazing and the Tough Mudder is TERRIFYING

Working on reverse rows here...trying to develop grip strength, and the ability to pick myself up. This isht is hard.
Gear: The North Face Capris, Swiftwick* Socks, Pearl Izumi M2, Panache Sports Bra
Over the last two months, I’ve been training and preparing for a bunch of events, one of which is the Atlanta Tough Mudder sponsored by Merrell* in May. That conversation went something like this:

Merrell: Hey Mirna, are you interested in Tough Mudders?
Mirna: I mean, I've never done one but, yeah, sure. Why not? I'll try it.
Merrell: Ok, which one?
Mirna: Um, I don't know, Atlanta? That's close to me.
Ok--Great, you're on.

Wait. WHAT JUST HAPPENED? 
WHAT WAS I THINKING?????

So now there's no backtracking.  To tell you the truth, the idea of a Tough Mudder really scares me...gives me the shivers. Why? I’ll tell you why:

First of all (in my best Brooklyn accent), have you seen any of those videos with CoachMud?  Or the other guy with the mustache who puts himself through absolutely grueling training so that he can complete his Tough Mudder? It’s just downright frightening!
Second, I've never been successful at upper body things. Never. Rock Climbing? Nope. Hanging and swinging? Nope. Planking for more than a few seconds at a time? HELL NAW. 

Started with doing The Firm Express by Gaiam and some Hammer and Chisel by Beachbody with lighter weights. Gear: Torrid Fashion Bra-Tank, Skirt Sports*
Redemption Capris
I decided that I would put myself through some extra strength-training, not so that I can be like Coach Mudd or Mr. Mustache, but so I can begin to gain some badly needed strength in all areas of my body, and most importantly SO I DON'T LOOK LIKE A COMPLETE FOOL during the TM community workout on March 19 in Atlanta (location and time TBA) and the actual Tough Mudder itself. And let me tell ya, the little bit I’ve been doing has ALREADY greatly enhanced my running.

After doing some research on various strength-training sites and using what I already know from my own coaching training and experience, I put together a program of weightlifting and body weight exercises that is definitely making a difference in my ability to lift heavy things, including myself.

Hanging practice. Gear: Skirt Sports 261
Switzer Capri, VSX Sports Bra, Pearl Izumi
Road M2
I actually started out with a couple of sets that I found on https://www.muscleandstrength.com using dumbbells only. It’s a workout for beginners looking to gain some strength that is done on alternate days. Each one is a mix of upper and lower-body exercises along with some core work. You leave the gym (or your living room) not feeling completely exhausted—maybe even invigorated. But trust me, you WILL feel it the next day… Don’t worry though, you won’t be working the same muscles on the following days.  And to tell you the truth, that slight soreness is delicious.

In the Tough Mudder, there are lots of obstacles (read: ALL OF THEM) that require upper body strength, balance, and more upper body strength, all of which are my weakest links. So I’m going hard! Since high school, I’ve never been able to do even one pull-up, and as I understand, mostly everything in the TM will be me hoisting heavy-ass self up with my arms. So yeah, I’m working on that too!

I also incorporated another strength training routine (that I’m switching out with the aforementioned on a two week rotation) that has me doing chest/shoulders/triceps one day, back/biceps/core the second day, and quads/hamstrings/calves the last day.

Overhead press. Gear: Torrid Fashion jacket,
Skirt Sports GTD Tights, Pearl Izumi shoes
Mind blown.

Stairs—Easier. Like, I-feel-like-I’m-on-a-properly-inflated-moonbounce kind of easier.

I can hang from a bar for more than five seconds. This is life-changing people. YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW.

I can hoist heavy weights above my head and hold them there without swaying to and fro.

Mountain climbers feel like marshmallows for the 10 seconds I do them. This has never happened, folks. NEVER. IN. MY. LIFE.

I can pick up a heavy weight in my hands using mostly my BUTTOCKS. Incredible.
Did I tell you that I can hang from a bar? I did? Oh, but you don’t realize how epically important this is for me. Since high school, I’ve never been able to do an unassisted pullup—and I still can’t but that’s beside the point. I am going to get there—soon, I hope. My plan is to progress from hanging to being able to hoist myself up, and hang from ropes and swing for a few seconds. This Tough Mudder training is REAL. Like FOREALTHO.
Deadlift practice. Gear: Top Quarter Zip by Merrell, Switzer Capri by Skirt Sports, Gloves by Saranac.
Running feels way easier.  Like, sometimes I can’t even tell that I just ran 4 miles. Usually, I can tell.
I can do a plank for more than 30 seconds. If you know me, you know I hate planks and I don’t like working on them and avoid them whenever possible and planks suck.
Planking--ugh. Gear: Top is Charmer Long Sleeve by Skirt Sports, Capris by Under Armour, Socks by Swiftwick and Shoes by Merrell.
This whole obstacle race thing is way out of my comfort zone, but I'm going to try and probably fail miserably, and that's ok because then I'll know what to work on for the next one. Yep, already planning for the next!

*I am a Merrell Ambassador, Skirt Sports Ambassador, and Swiftwick Athlete.


What scary goals or events do you have this year? Share!!!








29 comments:

  1. I so want to do a Tough Mudder one day. It looks hard but Uber fun! Definitely need to be like you and get my upper body strength up to par. Have fun and I can't wait to read about your experience!!

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    1. So, will you be signing up for one? :)

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    2. I'm doing a 107 mile Ultramarathon over three and a half days. It's definitely a scary goal. I've completed 3 marathons but this event will be effectively 4 marathons back to back. I'm excited but nervous that I'm not good enough or fit enough etc. Mirna thanks for being such an inspiration - I am a similar height and weight to you and boy do us larger ladies need decent role models for sport.

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  2. I'm training for this race in Oct. http://o2x.com/summit-challenges/ and I'm more than a little worried. My Brother passed away a few months ago and it was a race that was important to him so we're putting together a team in his honor. You are a constant source of inspiration! Which routines are you doing on muscleandstrength.com? That website is a little overwhelming.

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    1. Wow--Sorry for the loss of your brother. It's really awesome that you are continuing ahead and doing the race in his honor! Right now I'm doing the dumbbell only workout. The great thing about the site is that they have video demonstrations of EVERYTHING! Otherwise, I'd probably pop a shoulder!

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  3. Video demonstrations are crucial for me too! Thanks, I'll give it a try and wish me luck on Oct. 1st! I know my brother would be proud of me for making a commitment to get in better shape, be a little healthier and give this race a try. : )

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    1. I'm sure he would! Good luck in October! Let us know how your training is going!

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  4. I loved your article...self-deprecating and motivating at the same time!
    I can definitely relate to the upper body thing. I can run for miles but my first grade students can throw a ball farther than I can because I have zero arm strength.
    My scary running goal would be to do the Big Sur Marathon. I have heard it's very hilly, but I am inspired by the beauty of the location. Unfortunately, it's so popular it's by lottery only, but I will keep trying!

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    1. Big SUR! That's such a great goal. Hope that one day you will get in. The lotteries are such a racket!!!

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  5. You are inspiring me to work a little more at doing something other than running, just to make running easier. There is no way in hell I'd do a TM - some friends, who were in really good shape, did one several years ago and, not to scare you, but they suffered. I'm sure you'll do fine. Might want to take the day after off from work and/or life, though. ;)

    P.S. This sentence "I can pick up a heavy weight in my hands using mostly my BUTTOCKS" has given me a mental image that I cannot stop giggling at...yes, I am a 10-year-old boy deep down.

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  6. My absolute favorite obstacle course race report ever is this one, written by another trail-running, not-much-upper-body-strength, but strong and stubborn as hell woman (Vanessa Runs): http://vanessaruns.com/2012/02/03/spartan-obstacle-race-report/ . She kicked butt in the race, because turns out you actually also need to run a lot. Bonus? The report is hilarious. I read it to my husband and we both laughed too hard to breathe.

    Good luck, Mirna! This is an awesome post and an exciting new scary thing!

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    1. Thanks. I love anything that Vanessa writes! I've got to read this one PRONTO! And good thing we're runners, right? Because otherwise it would be an entirely different beast!

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  7. My Big Deal Whoopie Goal for this year is my first ultra trail marathon, a 50K I'm running with a bunch of friends from Black Girls RUN! in Michigan. I haven't even run a trail event. EVER. But I have a lot of support and have added trail running to my weekly running schedule already. We've got this, chica! Right? Right?

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    1. Of course you got this! I'm so excited for you--which 50K is this? Where? I know, I'm nosey! And it's also a great thing you've already added trail running to your schedule. Make sure you get your back to backs in on trails. Good luck!

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  8. ooh tough mudder is a little scary! I have the American Odyssey relay next month where I will be running 18 miles in our overnight relay. I am also really excited about the iron girl tri in August. Love all your skirt sports of course!

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    1. Iron Girl Tri--that sounds awesome! I've gotta start doing tris that are actually OUTDOOR tris, lol! good luck on your 18 miler in the dark--it'll be really cool!

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  9. Mira, Tough Mudders are so much fun, you will love it! I can't do monkey bars or some of those things, so I go into the water, but it's ok! I am training for the Leadville Heavy Half 25k at 10,000 ft to start and 13,000 to end! It will be fun and scary! Contemplating a 50k as well!

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    1. WOW! Are you training with an oxygen depletion mask thing? That's crazy and it scares me but YOU GO GIRL! How awesome is that?

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  10. Beside the point, but I am wearing the exact same skirt as I have my post run coffee (ok, and apple cake). Love it.

    To the point I am similarly upper body challenged, and still in th email avoidance phase ... Good luck with your training and the race!

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    1. Thanks! The upper body stuff is getting a tiny bit easier, only because I'm actually working on it. And YAY for SKIRT SPORTS!

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  11. I love that you call your soreness delicious. I said that the other day to my husband and he looked at me like I was purple! I love the feeling of sore muscles, makes me feel like I actually did something good for me!

    After having some fun with my IT-band recently I have been doing more strength training, it is amazing how much my running has improved from this. I hope you continue to do the strength after the mudder, that first pull-up is as exciting as the first mile!

    You are an inspiration to us all!

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  12. Keep up the good work dear, you're such an inspiration!

    www.ovbal.com

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  13. The Tough Mudder was my very first long run ever. Some advice, the runnin is easy cause you stop every half mile or so to do an obstacle. Biggest advice....go with your group. You are NOT expected to do these on sticks on your own. They encourage everyone to help everyone along the course, and in my opinion, that's what made it so fun. I'm a heavier girl and I ran it with 5 guys, and we had a blast. Have fun with it and don't take it too seriously, no one will let you fail it. Good luck!!

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    1. *obsticals* that should have read lol. (Sorry I was rushed at work). Also be prepared for lots of bruises, scrapes, "battle wounds". Totally worth it. It rained heavy downpour during our TM and so we were sloshing through heavy mud, which in turn caused me to get awful leg cramps. My brother had a knee causing him trouble, other brother had some other troubles, the only good runner of the group was my hubby. So we ended up walking about half of it. One thing they tell you at the beginning, is leave no Mudder behind! :)
      Tanya

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  14. Thank you for sharing your thought process, "Wait. WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
    WHAT WAS I THINKING?????" pretty much sums up the first time i signed up for a half marathon (having never done any other sort of running event before) Reminds me that to get stronger i will have to focus on more than just miles (once this baby is out in a few weeks :) )

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    1. You're having a baby!!!! MUCH LUCK TO YOU!

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  15. Hello Mirna,
    I found out about you from 'A Mighty Girl'. I've been wandering around your site and needed to comment on this post. Last year, I decided to start working out (again). I was a dancer when I was younger, so that is always my preferred exercise if I can find it. I signed up for something new and different, aerial dance (like Cirque du Soleil). My starting slogan was 'Out of shape, overweight and 48'.

    The amount of upper body strength this style of dance needs and what I had, was light years apart. It has been so hard, but I have developed a thick skin. I modified a whole bunch of the exercises to the level that I was at and the instructors have been awesome with suggestions. I keep on, keepin' on.

    I completely relate to your experiences with grip strength, hanging from a bar, and planking. I still can't do much, but I'm stronger! I've lost a few pounds, not many, but my clothes fit differently because of the gain in muscle mass.

    I will hang around for a while and read about your adventures.
    Cheers!

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  16. Last year my friend Marathon Mandy challenged me to a little run called The Nuts Challenge. Its 7km but 100 obstacles. I am a desk jockey and all round large marge but I'm very proud to say I not only survived, but came in the top 1/3 of my class. Do lots of squats and you'll do fine!

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  17. I loved your article...self-deprecating and motivating at the same time!
    I can definitely relate to the upper body thing. I can run for miles but my first grade students can throw a ball farther than I can because I have zero arm strength.

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