At 18, Clint Kingsbury, a wrestler, broke his neck grappling an opponent. As he rebuilt his body through years of therapy, the Calgary native and technical director of Wrestling Canada, discovered for the first time he's driven by the passion of conquering obstacles.
Next the 34-year-old will face 28 of them – he will cross flaming pits, clamber cargo nets, teeter on shaking balance beams, hike a 16-foot high skateboard quarter-pipe ramp and scale a greased wall – comprising the 18-kilometre Tough Mudder course in Toronto on Aug. 18.
"To be fit, strong, fast, durable so everything I do is for that event because I enjoy competing."
"I signed up in January and now I'm changing the amount of running. I never did a lot of running as a wrestler. I did other things that simulate high intensity aerobic exercises, but the event includes British Special Forces training: crawling in thick mud, jumping into ice water, climbing bars, running through live wires hanging overhead, and the main premise is running from each obstacle as fast as possible.
"I do single-leg jumps up triple steps, then a boxing ring is two-and-a-half feet off the ground so I do jumps off that – three rounds of five minutes – then step-ups with both legs for the same set scheme. My Muay Thai striking coach got me doing this stuff with speed drills four days week in the evenings and sessions are one to two-and-a-half hours.
"For dynamic balance training, I walk on the edge of the boxing ring, my feet are 45 degrees, but my body's straight up. I jump on the balls of my feet moving in all directions.
"I do reverse body lifts, I lay on a Swiss ball with one leg in the air holding dumbbells over my chest.
"I do kickboxing, jujitsu, and wrestling once a week.
"I've never done a 10K running race, I've done 5K. For me it's not a question of if my lungs are in good shape to do it. I had reconstruction in 2005 on one knee and I'm due for surgery on the other. I can run – I just never liked to do it.
"I've looked at the course and the order of the obstacles, but I'll wait to plot a strategy closer to last minute. I'm thinking about what's the most effective pace at each portion.
"Because I know it's in August, then I'll focus on the mental aspect; that's the time I unite my head and my body and stick to my game plan and don't deviate from what I've trained my body to accomplish. I will focus on running pace and not running faster than I've planned, and taking one obstacle at a time."
"Breakfast is peanut butter and toast with my daughter, coffee, orange juice, and water.
"Lunch is tuna salad or pizza or pasta.
"Dinner is steak, chicken or wild game with asparagus or broccoli, and potatoes. Post workout I have energy drinks and I take supplements."
"Overcoming physical challenges to prove I'm strong. But for this, a close friend felt I should do it."
"I've got cauliflower ears so I can't wear earphones [laughs] but I listen to Won't Back Down by Pink and Eminem."
Chris Lopez, a Toronto-based strength coach and founder of KettlebellWorkouts.com, says, "I would add more protein to his first meal, like eggs or a protein shake, and then limit bread, rice, and pasta to either two hours before or one hour after his workout. Post workout, Clint should drink coconut water."
Mr. Lopez, who holds a bachelor of science degree with a human kinetics specialization from the University of Guelph, says, "I suggest Clint incorporate exercises like pull-ups or chin-ups mixing various grips to perform them; do them on a standard bar one day, then use gymnastics rings and then attempt to climb a rope. This will assist in his ability to scale a wall using a rope or swing across water on monkey bars."
"For cardio, find a big hill and after a good warm-up, sprint up the hill. When he gets to the top, he'll perform 20 to 30 push-ups, and then walk down. When he gets to the bottom, he'll hold a plank for one minute. Repeat this five to eight times and increase that number as the weeks go by in preparation for the challenge. Two weeks prior to the event, Clint can taper off the amount of hills that he can do to make sure he's fresh for race day."
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Special to The Globe and Mail