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.
Junyong Pak is 35 years old, 140 pounds, 5’8” tall, and has six Tough Mudders under his belt. But that’s not what makes this Boston entrepreneur such a badass. After a near-heroic performance in November 2012, 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 last year’s competition, surpassing his 60-mile feat in 2011—and setting an all-time record for the competition. Curious about how he does all this without dying? 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.
Men's Fitness: 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 to 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.