I first began CrossFit because it presented a challenge unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. It was literally breathtaking in its intensity and diversity. Each day of training brought something new. But like anything else, the newness wears off. The intensity and variety itself became routine. And like humans do, I quickly became restless.

I was also running obstacle course races, which nicely complemented my love of CrossFit and running. But those, too, began to fade in newness and variability. I stay pretty local, and the 5k obstacle races all take place in one of two locations. Novelty became monotony, and I began looking for a bigger and better thing. I began to daydream about longer distances, bigger obstacles, and tougher challenges.

Amy Lawson trainingWhere could I find a new challenge? Where could I find what CrossFit brought at the beginning—a lengthy list of “To-Do’s”—a daily confrontation of physical feats that I wasn’t at all sure that I could complete? Enter World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM).

Since I first heard of WTM in 2012, I was in awe. People would actually pay money to be on their feet for 24 hours straight, tackling some of the most challenging obstacles on the planet? I read blogs and listened to podcasts to satisfy my curiosity about this questionable group of people who would do such an outrageous feat.

The feeling of awe slowly emerged into a desire to test my own limits in a more extreme way. I toyed with the idea of a triathlon, but bikes are expensive and swimming is miserable to me. I spent a year focusing all of my efforts into competitive CrossFit, but I still wanted new challenges. Then the offer came from WOD Talk: “What events would you like to enter? We will work on getting entries for you.” Immediately my mind flashed to WTM. Shoot for the moon and apparently you’ll land in mud pits—because I’m sitting here with an entry for WTM 2015.

Farmer carriesIt sounded awesome, in theory. Finally, my ban on long distance running was lifted (my coach had given me strict instructions for CrossFit training—total weekly mileage no more than about 15). For most CrossFitters, I’d guess a running ban might be a welcome thing; for me it was clipping my wings.

The weeks have flown by faster than my legs on the run. Mileage piled high, along with general hours spent training. I pieced together my own training plan, consulting ultra- and marathon plans, as well as WTM plans. The primary goal—time under tension. Anything and everything, as long as it meant I was upright and expending energy for increasingly longer periods of time. I began focused training in early June and 5 months later, I’ve done all I can do. And that’s the problem.


I’ve got a bad case of taper madness. It’s what runners call those last few weeks before the marathon, when the hours of training are reduced, and there’s too much extra time on our hands. That time typically spent expending energy and stress is now spent wallowing in it. Honestly, I’m panicking. T-w-e-n-t-y f-o-u-r hours. Mud. Obstacles. Swims. Elevation. Cliff jump. Tests of grip strength. Desert temperatures that drop with the sun.

All I can do now is pray. And comfort myself with reminders of my journey to get here.

Like the day I sandwiched a leg-heavy CrossFit session between runs:

  • 40 minutes of hill repeats
  • Warm up: HS holds and med ball throws
  • Box Squats: 5 @ 60% of training max, 5 @ 65%, 5 @ 70%
  • EMOM: Front Squats @ 70% of body weight with KB swings for remainder of minute until 100 total swings are completed
  • Prowler push (230 lbs): tabata
  • 8 mile run in the heat of the day

Or the day we focused on training for grip strength:

  • Morning run: 10 miles
  • Warm up: 2 rounds of 10 wall balls, 5 HSPU, 1 rope climb
  • Strict Press: 3 @ 80%, 3 @ 85%, 2 x 3 @ 90% of training max
  • WOD: 21-15-9 Power cleans (75 lbs) and ring dips; 15-9-6 Hang cleans (85 lbs) and ring dips; 9-6-3 Squat cleans (105 lbs) and ring dips

There was that day when we re-located our high school’s weight room:

  • 4 hours dragging/carrying squat racks, power pads, and various other pieces of equipment, including about 3,000 lbs of plates.

And the multiple miles of hill training:

  • 5 mile road run to the hills + 90 minutes of hill repeats + 4 mile run back home, fueled with Perfect Bars and supported by my Pro Compression socks

All that’s left at this point is to do the thing I’m not sure I can do. In a few days, I will be looking fear in the face and conquering it.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” ― Eleanor RooseveltYou Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

About Amy Lawson

Amy Lawson is a CrossFit Level 1 trainer, English teacher, wife of a strength coach and mom to 2 teen boys. She competes in CrossFit, Elite Spartan Races, Tough Mudders, and just about anything else that presents a new and different challenge.

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