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Photo credits to Alvin Nguyen

Last week, a group of 25 CrossFit 101ers headed out to Patterson (east of Tracy) for the 2012 Norcal Tough Mudder Obstacle Course race at Diablo Grande.  This was the second year our gym participated as a group for Tough Mudder.  After last year’s Tough Mudder experience (see here), I wasn’t expecting many 101ers to be interested in participating again, but after many students heard about the “near death” experiences, we had a good number sign up.  Goes to show you that people are always looking for a challenge because life’s a graded event.

If anyone asked me what they needed to do to prepare for Tough Mudder, I would obviously tell them to CrossFit.  It’s not that I’m biased, it’s just that for the time and energy you put in, there’s just nothing that comes close to physically and mentally conditioning a person as quick as CrossFit.  The movements we do are function based and when you need to crawl through tunnels and climb over walls, that functional training sure comes in handy.  If I wanted to prepare myself or train others for Tough Mudder as a competitive race, I would add in endurance interval hill sprints.  For how we tackle building up endurance, we can hang with most traditional endurance athletes, but Tough Mudder specifically includes elevation climbs and nothing quite prepares you for that besides hill sprints and climbs whether on terrain or on a treadmill.

How did this year’s Tough Mudder compare to last year’s at Squaw Valley, I would honestly say that it was half as grueling.  There was plenty of elevation climbs at Diablo Grande, but the warmer weather, being at sea level, and the soft terrain made this year’s event literally a cake walk.  At the end of the day though, I was glad to be able to share some great experiences with our 101ers.

So here’s a rundown on some tips you may find handy for the next one:

Tip #1: Get hooked up.  I don’t know how a marketing branch for GM eventually came across our Tough Mudder training post, but they asked me if I was interested in testing out a Chevy Volt and using it for the trek up to the Diablo Grande event as they were looking to get traction amongst the Tough Mudder community.  I happily accepted.  Seeing how gas is now close to $5 per gallon, I wished they would let me test it out all month!  Before I started up CrossFit 101, I used to work at NUMMI, a joint venture company between GM and Toyota.  And, one of my job functions as a quality control engineer was to evaluate vehicle performance and quality.  I can tell you that after being behind the scenes in automobile manufacturing and development, I’ve gained a whole new perspective on what it takes to make a good vehicle.

The Volt is the first electric/hybrid vehicle I’ve ever driven and after having it for the weekend, I can honestly say that I missed the characteristics of the car.  Taking it up to Diablo Grande was fun.  Helen and I drove up around 11pm, after we closed up the gym, so traffic was pretty light.  The quietness of the electric motor was refreshing and after climbing the grades over 680 and hitting highway 5, with its long straights, I’ll testify that the Volt feels very comfortable and solid well past 85mph…in sport mode :)  The little guy fit four of us comfortably, took on the dirt roads leading up to the event parking, and has enough digital gadgets and functions on it to keep you busy for days.  I appreciate GM for hooking me up and I’m pretty sure we were they only ones who were rolling up to Tough Mudder in Volt!

Tip #2: Allow plenty of time to put on make up.  Part of our swagger plan for this year’s event was to costume up in the theme of “Braveheart”.  I thought I would only ever have to wait for my wife to put on her make up, but apparently, I also have to wait for my best friend to apply his blue face paint as well, lol.  I wanted to be the first on station at Tough Mudder as we planned to have the 101 crew meet up at 9.  But after some delays and the back up that ensued as the rest of the Tough Mudder nation arrived to the event, we didn’t arrive until much later.  We started at the time I planned to have us go anyways, but a few Mudders were a bit grumpy, that’s just when you have to welcome them to the new plan and Mudder up.

Tip #3: Travel in packs.  Last year our group traveled as one pack and although it was nice to be able to support everyone, it has its challenges with balancing the experience for the more advanced team members against the ones who have less conditioning and capabilities.  This year, I split our team into for sub groups based upon the groups’ skill levels.  This made the flow of the day much easier to manage.  For the next event, I think we’ll still do this but have one advanced team start after all the rest and act as a sweeper team to pick up any team members who may fall behind.

Tip #4: Rely on your teammates.  Whether it’s helping one another with a boost over a wall or being on the other side of the wall to assist each other down, Tough Mudder is meant to build camaraderie so why not use each other and share the experience.  Usually Everest, the half pipe obstacle, is the one obstacle most cannot complete without the help of another member, but this year, with the running start that was given, it was possible to clear the top of the half pipe on your own.  The small mud hill obstacles were the ones that caught me by surprise this year.  The small hills were so slippery that you have to depend on the team member below you to anchor your footing so that you can push yourself to the top.  Once near the top, another team member can help pull you up.  I definitely liked the addition of these simple obstacles to the course.

Tip #5:  Don’t cramp.  Water and salt are your friends.  Some people drink too much water at one time and flush out all their salts, which may lead to cramping.  Another way to minimize cramping is to pace yourself out.  Our lead group attacked the hill climbs by running up them, but after 4 miles of doing so, a few in our group started severely cramping up.  If you don’t know, that is pretty early in the game to cramp up on a 10+ mile course.  Luckily, with some massage, water, and salt, we were able to manage their cramping and they continued on throughout the day just fine after we took it a little easier on the climbs.

There were a whole lot more people this year who got carted off the course due to cramping.  On that note, there were a whole lot more people on the course who looked like they never trained a day in their life for physical activity.  Don’t be that person.  I don’t care if you CrossFit or not, you got to train in something if you plan on taking on even a mile of hill climbs.

Closing: I’m always proud of our 101ers.  However, seeing some of our less experienced members take on this challenge was especially inspiring.  As obstacle course races gain popularity, there will be tougher and more extreme events that pop up.  What I want our 101ers to always remember is to have fun and enjoy the journey.  We train to live, and it’s easy for many of us, myself included, to get caught up living to train.

I look forward to hitting up next year’s Tough Mudder with our 101 team again.  Regardless of what event we do, I know you all will do it with style, do it to the best of your ability, and will never leave any 101er behind.

For more pictures and vids of the event, check out our CrossFit 101 page on Facebook.


Power output and intensity are major components of training in the world of CrossFit, but they don’t come before technique and consistency are established.  We check our egos at the door so that we can continue walking through that door in a consistently safe condition.  Tomorrow’s a long workout and we expect you to maintain your form throughout the duration of the workout.  That means range of motion will be unquestionable.  If you’re feeling unusually more discomfort than normal during any workout, it is your responsibility to let our coaches know.  And if you’re ever really out of it, know that living to fight another day is always an option.  We don’t believe in over-training, but if your nutrition and rest are being taken care of, under-recovery is a possibility.  Train hard, eat right, and have fun!     

Main Group Workout
Complete for time with a 20lb vest:
Run 1 mile
20 x Man Makers (2×45/25lbs)
40 x Pull-ups
80 x Push-ups
160 x Air Squats
320 x Leg Lifts
Run 1 mile

042512 SEALFIT Maker


When you walk through the gym doors, we need you to turn on your “CrossFit switch”.  You may have had a rough or long day, but as soon as you walk through to the training room, all that goes out the door.  For the hour that your with us, we want you to make the most of it.  It’s an hour to focus on your goals.  It’s an hour to alleviate stress.  It’s an hour to work hard, challenge yourself, and have fun.  And ultimately, it’s an hour to train to be a better you.  You’re with us because we’re here to guide, lead, motivate, teach, correct, and kick your behinds in high gear.  We do our best to fire you up, so just do your best to meet us half way.  “Good evening students!”

Main Group Workout
1RM Clean
1RM Floor Press
1RM Overhead squat  

1 mile time trial

Cash out: 400m walk

040612 CFT2 & Mile Time Trial