How to Train Like the World’s Toughest Mudder
Junyong Pak, two-time winner of the world’s most badass obstacle course race, reveals how he stays fit for the challenge.
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Junyong Pak is 34 years old, 140 lbs., 5’8” tall, and has six Tough Mudders under his belt. But that’s not what makes this Boston entrepreneur such a badass. With his near-heroic performance last week, Pak has now won back-to-back titles in the World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM), proving that his body can take a major beating. Bearing electric shocks, ice-slicked hanging rings, and hypothermia-inducing temperatures, Pak completed 90 miles in just over 24 hours during this year’s competition, surpassing his 60-mile feat the previous year—and setting an all-time record for the competition. The Pak man dished to Men’s Fitness about the diet and grueling training that made him the two-time winner of the hardest obstacle race in the world.
MF: You trekked through the course nine times, beating out over 1,000 men. How the hell do you get ready for a challenge like this?
Junyong Pak: I’ve been doing races year-round to prepare—everything from the mile to the marathon, obstacle courses short and long. Depending on what I’m training for, I shift gears and change up my regimen. Aside from running, I try to simulate racecourse conditions whenever possible. For those long sustained hills, I’ll oftentimes do runs dragging a tire. For all of the hanging obstacles, I’ll do lots of pull-ups, rope climbs/traverses, and dead-hangs for time. My rock climbing background has helped enormously as well, and I like to use my own bodyweight for resistance in functional movements.
MF: You outdid yourself by 30 miles this time—and without taking any extended pit stops during the race. How do you manage that big of a leap in just one year?
JP: I actually only had about a week and a half window to train specifically for the WTM, so I went from 40-50 miles a week up to 130. Most coaches would absolutely cringe at the idea—you’re just begging for injuries to occur—but with the right nutrition and the right recovery techniques, it was possible. I was doing 17, 18, 19 miles a day, and I capped that off with a marathon-length run before the competition. That’s what you can do with proper nutrition and training.