Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Need a New Challenge? No Obstacle; Fitness Tackling an Assault Course Will Exercise the Muscles Running Can't Reach. Give Your Body a Fresh Kind of Workout, Says Phoebe Luckhurst

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Need a New Challenge? No Obstacle; Fitness Tackling an Assault Course Will Exercise the Muscles Running Can't Reach. Give Your Body a Fresh Kind of Workout, Says Phoebe Luckhurst

Article excerpt

Byline: Phoebe Luckhurst

BREAKING up is hard to do, though everyone deals with the fall-out differently. The post-marathon days are similar -- many runners grieve the end of training and the anticlimax of life after race day. Evenings are obviously pointless unless you're risking ligament and limb striding at speed through the concrete jungle where shin splints are made.

Although marathon training inspires Stockholm Syndrome levels of loyalty, running through the city is obviously very dull and many find it hard to stay motivated to continue exercising without the race-day deadline closing in; admittedly, some are thankful never to run again. So if you long for another challenge, try an obstacle course. They're popping up across the capital and offer all the thrills of the hardcore with a little more imagination: obstacles are more playground than athletics track, so they can help to revive flagging motivation. Plus they demand you engage other muscles, so you can rebalance your physique after months of putting pressure on those increasingly overwrought knees.

Tough Mudder (toughmudder.co.uk) is a 10-12-mile obstacle course. You compete in teams to overcome obstacles including climbing walls, huge pools of mud, underwater tunnels, climbing frames and cages.

Sometimes there is fire or a current of electricity to make things a bit more interesting. It's not a race and isn't timed: the objective is to complete the course. Tough Mudder finishers talk about the event in transcendent terms -- seems you really had to be there.

One considerable obstacle to competing is that it's hard to find any considerable obstacles to train on: London is not rich in pools of electrified mud. Virgin Active (virginactive.co.uk) is launching a new class tailored to those training for the challenge. Designed by Virgin Active and Tough Mudder's "Chief of Tough" (presumably the course's director), the class simulates some of the conditions of the event in advance. …

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