With World’s Toughest Mudder taking place in Las Vegas this weekend, we thought we would check in with Mark Hollaway one last time before he takes off to the US.
Mark Hollaway, a Tough Mudder-Help for Heroes Ambassador, has completed numerous Tough Mudder events and can often be found helping out with volunteer management one day and running multiple laps the next. After competing in 2013, Mark is now preparing to take on WTM in 2014, while also raising money for Help for Heroes.
By day Mark is a Colour Serjeant serving in the British Army. He has served in Afghanistan, where he was severely injured in the line of duty, and now spends his time training future Army Officers at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.
Today we thought we would ask Mark about his final weeks of preparation:
It is getting pretty close to the event now, are you still in ‘full training’ mode or have you changed up your schedule?
“My last full week of training was 4 weeks out from the event in Las Vegas. It actually coincided with the week leading into Tough Mudder London South, which I used as my final training event. In that final week my programme was as follows:
– Monday, run 1 hour, followed by 1 hour swim. Total: 2 hours.
– Tuesday, 30 mile run. Total: 5 hours.
– Wednesday, rest.
– Thursday, circuit training and Thai boxing. Total: 2 hours.
– Friday, rest.
– Saturday, Tough Mudder London south X 1 lap, steady pace. About 2 hours.
– Sunday, rest.”
Had you planned to only run 1 lap at London South, as you have mentioned you usually try for at least 2?
“While I was running Tough Mudder on the Saturday my joints started to ache so I decided to only run the one lap. This was a good call, as I usually push out 2-3 laps of the course, but with only 4 weeks till Vegas I felt it was too risky. I was petrified of getting injured so I kept it playful and by the end of this week I knew I was ready.”
So what was the next step after your final Tough Mudder?
“From the week after London South I started my taper programme. I say programme loosely as I generally approach everything pretty old school. I train when I feel like I can and rest when I feel I need it. However I knew deep down that I would have to seek advice from someone who’s done some pretty grueling endurance events. So I consulted with one of the physios at work who’s done a few endurance events and he pointed me in the right direction.”
What did you learn about tapering for the event?
“So armed with some extra knowledge, I dropped the volume of training down slightly and eased back on my running. I did however do more swimming and muscular endurance work, all minimal impact stuff. This is the most crucial time of my training, I need maximum recovery time but still need to maintain my level of fitness. With the training I have been doing, running over 50 miles a week and training around 15 hours a week, my joints have taken a battering. So my taper training consists of shorter runs, no longer than 10 miles at a time, 3 x a week, swimming every other day, and muscular endurance training sessions 1-2 hours, twice a week.”
OK, that is training taken care of, is there anything else you have been preparing in the final weeks?
“With the event fast approaching, something else I’m thinking about is my kit and race equipment. So I started getting my kit together and have been doing some of my training runs in my wetsuit, etc, to make sure it is all ready to go.”
What about food and drink during the race, have you put any thought into that?
“Yeah I have been trialling different strategies for a while and I’ve found that the most effective thing to eat during my long runs is nothing other than a Mars bar. Normally one for every 10 miles I run. There’s probably some science behind it, but I just find them easy to eat and keep down. Energy gels are often great but I’m off them for the time being due to the caffeine, so I’m taking baby food purees instead.”
You mentioned not eating energy gels due to the caffeine, what is the thinking behind that?
“This is actually the biggest battle I’m facing at this stage. The caffeine ban. I’ve stopped drinking coffee and consuming anything with caffeine. The reason for this is I want to lower my caffeine tolerance dramatically. I do this so that when I use energy gels with caffeine in them or drink coffee during the race it will have maximum impact and help keep me going. The Race is 24 hours, I will be going non stop for 24 hours.”
That is definitely a different kind of challenge. So, with all those things considered, what will your nutrition look like in Las Vegas?
“My race nutrition for the 24 hours will be:
– Mars bar, X 1 per lap.
– 500ml chocolate milk, X 1 per lap.
– Gatorade, 500ml, X 1 per lap.
– Energy gels, baby food puree, X 1 every 30 minutes.
– Pro Plus, for emergency.
– Also considering taking a large pizza into the pit area and a box of doughnuts.”
If you’re interested in helping Mark in his mission to support Help for Heroes, visit Mark’s official fundraising page or by text message MTTM99 £5 to 70070.