By Pete Williams
TAMPA – When we started Tough Mudder training at The Next Level (TNL) Training Center a year ago, we were among a small group of 15 to 20 gathering for sessions that lasted up to 75 minutes.
Those of us who made it to last December’s race at Little Everglades Ranch in Pasco County found the actual 12-mile Tough Mudder easier than some of the workouts TNL head guy Eric Stratman devised.
Word of how effective the training is has gotten out and today 61 people showed up for the weekly Saturday morning torture fest. Because of the numbers, Stratman has put us into teams of 6-8 people the last few workouts. That doesn’t make things easier, but it does control the traffic flow. Unlike Tough Mudder, there will be no waiting in line for obstacles.
Today was pretty straightforward. Each team had six people, one for each of six stations:
Wall-Ball (Squat and toss a 14-pound medicine ball beyond a tape mark on the wall – 12 feet up)
Rinse and repeat as many times as possible in 20 minutes.
The key was the 200-meter sprinter. However long s/he spent sprinting was how long the rest of us spent at our respective stations. When s/he finished, we rotated, with everyone keeping track of our collective team totals of push-ups, sit-ups, wall-ball throws, and pull-ups.
It was only 20 minutes, a typical CrossFit WOD (Workout of the Day).
I like CrossFit, but my one complaint is that it’s not the greatest preparation for obstacle racing since there’s little running involved. That’s what makes Stratman’s program on Saturdays so effective. For the obstacle race training, he generally inserts a 400-meter or 800-meter run in between each typical WOD drill. That simulates obstacle racing, where you run a quarter-mile or so between obstacles.
Today he added a 2-mile run to the end of the WOD. Some of the group bailed rather than run a mile up Racetrack Road at 10:30 a.m. in 87-degree heat.
But the rest of us made the run, which probably was closer to 2.5 miles.
My team logged a collective 1,633 reps between pushups, pullups, situps, and wall ball, or roughly 400 per station or 20 per minute. One of my female teammates and I were first in the run.
Clearly this obstacle race training is paying off.
Stratman continues to offer free Tough Mudder training at TNL Tampa on Saturday mornings, though not the next two Saturdays as his crew is competing in a CrossFit competition and staging a beach workout. They’ll be back at TNL Tampa, which is on the border of Westchase and Oldsmar, on July 28.