Getting match fit for St Albans Muddy Mucker

Herts Ad editor Matt Adams is put through his paces by personal trainer Dennis Conroy

Herts Ad editor Matt Adams is put through his paces by personal trainer Dennis Conroy - Credit: Archant

Having foolishly agreed to take part in a five mile obstacle challenge across a specially designed assault course on behalf of the Herts Ad’s charity Rennie Grove, I realised that I definitely needed to hone my training if I wanted to go the distance.

Herts Ad editor Matt Adams is put through his paces by personal trainer Dennis Conroy

Herts Ad editor Matt Adams is put through his paces by personal trainer Dennis Conroy - Credit: Archant

Taking place in Chiswell Green on April 10, the Muddy Mucker will see hundreds of people test their strength and stamina in the face of climbing walls, rope swings, muddy tunnels, pools of water and other gruelling obstacles.

We will all be doing our bit to help support the services Rennie Grove provides to local patients suffering from life-limiting illnesses and their families, which will make all the muck and madness worthwhile in the end!

But although I take part in high-intensity circuit classes three times a week, I wanted to make sure my training would replicate some of the tough obstacles I might face on the course, so I enlisted the help of personal trainer Dennis Conroy at Nuffield Health in St Albans.

He told me: “So you’re probably wondering what to do if you don’t have access to monkey bars to climb across or a bunch of pipes to crawl through.

“A good place to start is having the ability to run, I would recommend being able to do at least 5K, and on top of the running it is just as important to add some strength work into your programming for the event.

“However, any training should be non-specific, meaning that it needs to be broader than normal. The reasoning behind this is that there is no way you can actually train for the course unless you have almost similar obstacles available.

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“This doesn’t mean we need to try and cover every exercise out there, it just means to adjust your training to get as close as possible to what you may expect on the day. I would recommend selecting exercises which will help and being good at them!”

The training programme Dennis devised for me includes exercises which require most of the body system to get from A to B - ‘bang for buck’ activities which will increase my overall performance. So during my session we focused on a low crawl across the gym, Spider-Man style, which involved using my whole body to travel.

With many obstacles that will involve grip strength, pulling myself over walls, climbing ropes and so on, it is important that my training also focuses on this area.

But after a session on the monkey bars with Dennis, I now know why our simian ancestors came down from the trees, and if I’m going to struggle with anything on the day, it will be those.

Dennis stressed how it is important to incorporate large amounts of circuit and conditioning training as this will build mental toughness: “There can sometimes be the misconception that all you need to do is endurance work, but this is not the case as you still need to be including straight-up strength work as well.”

For me, this included dragging a 20kg kettle bell across the gym using a rope, but there are plenty of other weighted activities which serve just as well.

Having put me through my paces with a full-on routine, he was encouraging about my determination, if not my ability to complete the course.

He added: “Be sure that you know how to execute any exercises or have a good grasp of them. They may not be easy to learn but have big benefits. Always make time for stretching, and remember fuelling is just as important as your training.

“It is important to stress that anybody can take part in any form of obstacle course, and I encourage those taking part to enjoy themselves and have fun while taking part.

“That is it. Nothing revolutionary. Just straightforward real advice and keeping it simple.”

To sponsor Matt’s efforts, please visit his JustGiving page.