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From Tough Mudder to Durable Dad

It’s Fit Bottomed Dudes week over on Fit Bottomed Girls, so we wanted to join in on the fun over here. Today, I bring to you my husband’s take on our Tough Mudder adventure — how it helped kickstart his fitness after a major hiatus and the unexpected benefits he’s found because of it!

It was a beautiful fall day. The sky was clear, the leaves had begun their colorful transition and there was a crispness to the air. As I stood in a large field taking it all in while waiting for my three-hour “marathon” of pain to begin, I was naively feeling pretty good about myself. About two months earlier, I had begun a rigorous (in my estimation) strength and cardio training regime in preparation for the Tough Mudder. So now the moment was upon me, and as I briskly took off toward my first obstacle, full of adrenaline and potential energy, I was riding high on my anticipated accomplishment that lay just a mere 10 to 12 obstacle-riddled miles ahead of me. Flash forward 3½ hours. I found myself standing, shivering in a mass of people who, like me, were covered more in mud than clothes, waiting for a 60-second shot of cold water. The water would soon reveal limbs scraped, bloodied and bruised by the excesses of an unrelenting course. Dried, clothed and a little less muddy, I relaxed and enjoyed a couple of well-earned beers. With my easily induced tipsiness slightly offsetting the pain and stiffness that had begun to set in, I woozily reveled in my accomplishment with Erin.


The Tough Mudder was a great and fulfilling goal that sent me on a journey back to a level of fitness that I hadn’t seen in years. Prior to the event, I had become quite out of shape. Forget scaling walls, I could barely scale a few flights of stairs. So my return to relative fitness was a welcome change. But how to sustain these gains in the absence of a huge goal? As a father of two young children, with not a lot of free time on my hands, continuing to train for races, while rewarding, wasn’t exactly how I wanted to spend what little free time I had. So what was the motivation to continue to stay fit? Being able to do pull-ups again was great, but the real benefit turned out to be having the energy to outlast my kids. The seemingly boundless levels of energy of my kids, interspersed with meltdowns and seemingly too-short naps, left me worn down and needing more naps of my own than I’d like to admit. Prior to working out, I almost felt like I was stuck in a downward spiral, battling with fatigue that I was not the odds-on favorite to win. But then came the Tough Mudder and my new fitness regime. It turns out my greatest victory would not be the Mud Mile, but rather my ability to wrestle my kids all morning and then have the energy to actually go work out while they napped.

While I don’t work out as much as I did while I trained, I still manage to fit in a couple really good cardio workouts a week. And for me, that has been enough to sustain my increased energy levels. I’ve also recently acknowledged that I no longer have the metabolism of a twenty-something, so I’ve coupled my workouts with a curtailed eating regime. I wouldn’t say I’ve drastically changed my diet; I just eat less. And I must say, this whole “new” lifestyle feels sustainable.

I’ve lost some much-needed weight, and I have a pool of energy that helps me keep my head above water. I don’t anticipate participating in another Tough Mudder anytime soon nor are marathons listed in my future goals. But I will continue to work out. The everyday rewards have proven to be better than a moment of endorphin-induced euphoria (which is nice!). For those who prefer the practical over the inspirational, I would say the return on my fitness investment has allowed me to accomplish more than I would have had I spent that workout time doing something else. Whatever the motivation, the benefits have been tangible.

The idea of being able to keep up with my kids now and into the future has turned out to be the best motivation. It’s my hope that this will be one goal that I can commit to for the long-haul. —Alan

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