Darren Fittler’s Tough Mudder diary 2013

Here is Darren Fittler’s diary for the three months leading up to his historic Tough Mudder adventure – becoming the first blind person in the world to finish any Tough Mudder course anywhere in the world. And it happened in Sydney Australia on 12 October 2013.

Read about Darren’s training, his eating, his preparation, have a laugh and gain some interesting insights into life as a blind person along the way.

Over to you Darren!

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p>My name is Darren Fittler. I am blind, but that’s no obstacle.

I had know idea at all when I first decided to tackle Tough Mudder that just 3 month’s later I would become the first blind person in the world to complete any Tough Mudder event.

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p>Looking back, I am quite amazed at how far I have come. Not just in preparation and training for the actual Tough Mudder event, but building this site and the Almost Fit Facebook page, starting the Almost Fit HQ Twitter page and writing all those posts!

A big thanks to all who helped me achieve this awsome result , in particular my beautiful wife Renee Fittler. And a big thanks to all of you who joined me on my journey so far.
Lastly, I would never have gotten to this point without the helpe of my trainer and friend [Dirk Venter](http://www.almostfit.com.au/about#dirk) and the rest of the Almost Fit Tough Mudder team, Michael Meredith, Paul McGee and Glen Wellham – thanks boys!

As you scroll through the posts, feel free to visit the full post and even leave comments if you wish. I promise I will read every single one.

Skip the intro and jump straight to the posts

This diary is my way of capturing my Tough Mudder adventure and sharing it with you. I’m adding to my collection of life experiences and living by my life motto – “Give it a go“. I am not sure if you are allowed to have two life mottos, but if you are, my other one would be “Find a way“’. **Which is also kinda relevant to obstacle course racing!**

So, like those who have encouraged me to start this blog, perhaps you too are interested in how a person who is blind trains for and runs in an event like Tough Mudder?

If you are game, or just curious, come on a journey with me to Tough Mudder, and maybe beyond! As we embark on this journey together you can:

  • read about my training regime and my diet (or lack thereof!);
  • learn about some of my hurdles and successes along the way, not least of which is getting this blog going!
  • laugh with me as I share some stories and thoughts along the way; and
  • share in this whole experience with me by leaving comments

Hope you enjoy the journey!

My quest begins 1 July, 2013 - Today starts my Tough Mudder quest. My mission over the next 12 weeks or so is to build up both my strength and my running endurance. This will involve:
  • strength training
  • cardio/running training
  • some proper eating!
Read on to learn a little more about me, about my first BioSignature Testing results and today's back workout.
Dirk Venter according to Darren Fittler 2 July, 2013 - I first met Dirk Venter about 5 years ago when I decided it was time to stop my slide into a ‘desk-job-slob’. He’s built like a tank and obviously loves his health and fitness career. Dirk is a very good personal trainer and wouldn’t dream of putting you through a workout that he hasn’t already done and probably done heavier and faster! I am sure you know that getting fit is more than just lifting weights. This is why Dirk also integrates diet, nutrition and stretching and release into his thinking, planning and advice. Doesn’t mean I always do as I am told though! Read on to learn more about Dirk
My first run 2 July, 2013 - Today I embarked on the First run of my Tough Mudder campaign. Just on a treadmill, but you gotta start somewhere right? And even running on a treadmill can be ‘interesting’ when you can’t see what you are doing! Without constent visual cues of where I am in relation to the treadmill, I need to use other senses - primarily touch, but hearing also comes into the mix. Read on to learn more about running blind.
Who said running was fun? 3 July, 2013 - Yesterday I said I was feeling good after my run. Well, OK, I spoke too soon! Not feeling quite so good as yesterday! This soreness is not entirely unexpected though. Building up some ankle, knee and general joint strength and stability is all part of the process and essential for Tough Mudder. Read on for some Body Talk and a description of today's chest and back workout.
Happy Independence Day 4 July, 2013 - Independence is very important to me. There is a perception out there that people who are blind are less capable, less efficient, less intelligent and more needy than others. Blindness is also a very frightening and confronting concept to many. No surprise really seeming that we all live in an extremely vision oriented world. People find it very difficult to comprehend what life might be like if they were required to interact and participate in the world without sight. It is possible though ... of course! I work hard to maintain my independence for my own sake and to also ...
Today Travel Trumps Training 5 July, 2013 - I travelled to Melbourne for work today and did zero exercise, unless walking from the check-in desk to gate 40 of Sydney domestic airport counts, Which of course it doesn’t, though after the leg session yesterday, any movement at all hurts. Even the movement to prepare for a movement! If you know what I mean. […]
First things first 8 July, 2013 - Oopse, ok, I was supposed to do a couple of things on the weekend. Do some exercise beyond just rumbling with the kids, and Actually sign up for Tough Mudder. Supposed to … but didn’t. It is going to be awfully hard to compete in this event if I don’t sign up for it. But […]
Working from home not working out 9 July, 2013 - So, another run today. Well, that’s actually a lie. I would have if I was at work, but today was a working from home day. I had some vague notion of doing some skipping or something today as a break from work, but didn’t quite get to it. Saving myself just in case tomorrow ends […]
Nothing much doin’ 10 July, 2013 - Not much to report today. Another day, another dollar and another workout! My Workout Another chest and back workout today. A 5Kg increase from last week making it 30Kg dumbbell flat bench press combined with bodyweight pull-ups. I did a little better with the pull-ups this week, got six rounds of 5 reps out this […]
Work prevails 11 July, 2013 - Oh, what a disaster. My 9:30 meeting went well over time, so I missed my session with Dirk. I did let him know with about 10 minutes notice, but this is far from ideal . Dirk tried to find me another slot and move some others around, but didn’t work out this time. And really, […]
Oh where have those endorphins gone? 12 July, 2013 - I Finally got back on the treadmill today for my second run since starting my campaign on 1 July. And what do you know? that endorphin rush didn’t happen this time, not during the run or after. Oh where has my endorphin friend gone?! Body Talk It was a bit of a struggle running today, […]
With shins like a hockey player 13 July, 2013 - I thought about doing some exercise today ... again. Dam it, just can’t seem to get the weekend workout thing going on. In fact, can’t even seem to get the weekend stretching or something going. Also, I smashed my knee into a wooden chest today. My fault, I left it there! Rest assured though, this is Far from the first time I have walked or run into something. Not seeing where I am going does mean that I run into things somewhat more than your average bear! My shin bones have a good collection of old and new scarring and so many chips and dints that you could almost call them serrated - a lot like I imagine a hockey player’s shins to be. Read more on my poor shinbones, if you dare!
Perpetually sore 15 July, 2013 - I am not going to even tell you about what I didn’t do over the weekend. Instead, it’s all about today. Today, after doing a few hours of work on an apparent day off, I got down to my local gym with my wife for a Body Pump class. I haven’t done a Pump Class […]
Will I ever be a runner? 16 July, 2013 - As promised in my last post, I went for a run today. Well on a treadmill at least, if you are allowed to call that “a run”. I nudged the distance up a notch to 3Km, instead of 2.5, and left the speed on a steady 8.5. Not very fast I know, but one thing […]
BioSignature Testing session 2 and some fun in a not-for-profit pub 22 July, 2013 - Today was the beginning of a new program which means, yes, another bioSignature testing session. This caught me a little off guard as Dirk Venter had said that we wouldn’t test again until early August. I should know by now though that Dirk can, and readily does, change his mind! The meal I had last week at Charcoal Lane on Gertrude Street , on the fringes of Melbourne's CBD, while very tasty indeed, probably wasn't quite what Dirk would have recommended. Hmmm, and to be honest, Dirk would not have been impressed at all to learn that we followed Charcoal Lane with a visit to a not-for-profit pub on Manchester Lane called Shebeen. Well it wouldn't be visiting a pub that would have been frowned upon, more the beer or two I had! But all for a good cause.
Training blind 24 July, 2013 - I have written a few posts now and thought it was a good time to share a little about why I started training and about why I decided to team up with a personal trainer. There are four main reasons why I teamed up with Dirk for training, two of which are directly related to me not being able to see. The reasons are:
  • to make sure I don’t disrupt anyone else’s training
  • to get good hands-on instruction on proper technique
  • to motivate me to go to training (after all I have already paid the money)
  • to be pushed harder than I am likely to push myself.
I don’t like the idea that I can’t just decide to join a gym and go like most other people. There is, as with many aspects of being blind, a need to put in extra planning and thinking and to take extra steps to achieve what might seem to be the simplest of things. This extra work takes extra effort and needs motivation. Which I try hard to maintain, but not always with success. Read on to learn more about training without sight and today's shoulder workout
Dirk mustn’t be well 26 July, 2013 - Dirk Venter went a little easy on me today, as we eased into the dead-lifts. Not usual behaviour for Dirk! I wonder if it was really Dirk or his angel twin brother! My Workout Instead of completing all 6 rounds of dead-lifts on 110Kg, we worked up to it. 80Kg, then 90Kg then 100Kg and […]
Legs and more legs 29 July, 2013 - It was legs day again today. Oh how I love legs day … not! This workout may not sound like much to some of you, but let me tell you, there were seriously almost tears! My Workout We kept the squat weights the same as last week (60kg for front-squat and 70 kg for back-squat) […]
Running takes a back seat … again … doh! 30 July, 2013 - I was supposed to go for a run today, seriously, I really was pumped for a run. Then an extra lengthy marathon conference call soon put an end to this idea! Doh! really really gotta get some running in!
Monkeying around 30 July, 2013 - Another day of dead-lifts. Dead-lifts are good for you, so Mr Dirk Venter keeps telling me. But, they really do take some focus and good old fashion determination.
A change is as good as a holiday 1 August, 2013 - We broke my training routine a little this week by doing a weight session on Thursday, rather than Friday. This is because we are trying to use Friday for running. So, today was chest, and yes sir was it chest. I somehow managed to squeeze in 3 sequences today which really did give the good old chest a bit of a hammering Read on to learn more about today's chest workout
It is game on! 2 August, 2013 - Today was the day I was finally successful in signing up for Tough Mudder. Read on to learn more about my Tough Mudder website success and my attempt to let them know I am coming!
Team ‘Almost Fit’ is go 5 August, 2013 - I am happy to report that Dirk Venter has now successfully signed up for Tough Mudder and successfully established our team ... you got it ... Almost Fit Read on to learn more about my Tough Mudder website frustrations, what deloading is and my leg workout for the day.
Outdoor run No. 1 – Running Blind 6 August, 2013 -

Today Dirk Venter and I embarked on our first outdoor run together. Just some street running up to the landmark Coke Sign in Kings Cross and back again, with a brief diversion into Hyde Park to try some gentle off-road running.

This whole running together thing is new to both of us, so we had to experiment a bit. Dirk brought along a piece of elastic strapping (like physios use) to tether us together.

Anyway, running with an over-sized rubberband kinda worked but was not so good when judging a quick stop ... oof!

Read on to learn more about our first running adventure.
If we build it, will they come? 7 August, 2013 - With Tough Mudder being a team event, we roped in one and maybe two others to join our ‘almost fit’ team today. I have an open alteria motive for wanting a bigger team. And that is, I seriously cannot see how I am going to be able to lift a 115Kg Dirk Venter up through and over a number of the obsticals solo! The rest of this post details my back workout.
Almost Fit, the website 8 August, 2013 - This post is important in the history of this blog of mine. 'Why,'?, you ask. Well, because I finally decided to go live with a blog, took the plunge and managed to secure the domain name www.almostfit.com.au and signed up for some web hosting. Read on to learn more and to also see my workout for the day.
Four outta five ain’t bad 9 August, 2013 - I was aiming for five out of five training sessions this week. I even got so far as getting changed into my workout gear but that is as far as I got! I foolishly went back to my office to grab my forgotten water bottle and answered the ringing phone while I was there. Stupid […]
Operation Crazy Pants 10 August, 2013 - Read this post to learn a little more about the Almost Fit website, how I go about shopping as a blind person, Operation Crazy Pants and 1 way I use GPS technology.
Website is live, but so much more to do! 11 August, 2013 - Today was another important day in the history of this blog. An essential milestone was reached - got the site up and live! This post goes into some detail about my website challenges.
Ramping it up! 12 August, 2013 - Today marks 2 months until Tough Mudder day! From today I will ramp up the training, especially the running, and be more vigilant in my eating, at least this is my plan! Oh, and back to good old legs again today for the workout! ...
I think I am a hamster 13 August, 2013 - It was supposed to be a running outside day today, but Dirk couldn’t make it. So, onto the treadmill for me ... again. I'm feeling like a hamster ...
Say “cheese” 14 August, 2013 - Read today's post to learn about my workout and our first attempt at getting some photos for this blog.
And we are running 15 August, 2013 - Today was yet more treadmill running for me. A little repeticious I know, but this is part of getting running fit ready for Tough Mudder. Why was it a little more "fun" for me today. Read on to find out.
High Five 16 August, 2013 - Hurray, I made it to training today. That means 5 out of 5 this week. First time. Read on to learn about my workout, Tough Mudder registration dramas and the all new Blind Power Blog on Twitter!
Not happy Jan! Whoever Jan is 19 August, 2013 - Today marked the changeover to a new program. Just you wait. Triple superset time. And to really say hi to this mode of working, today was legs. A new program also means another BioSignature Testing day. And, as the title of this post suggests, not good news for me. Despite my training and my good eating efforts, my results were ...
Three is definitely a crowd 21 August, 2013 - I am not necessarily convinced in relation to other situations, but when it comes to training 3 sets is definitely a crowd! It was back and chest triple set joy today, including a new exercise ... at least new to me. The new exercise is a standing straight-arm lat push-down thing, which I describe, together with my attempts at it, in todays post.
Twice the fun 22 August, 2013 - Today Dirk and I managed to get out and on the road for what is only our second run together. As with our first run, we ran up to the landmark Coke Sign in King’s Cross and back down William Street again to Elizabeth Street. This time however ...
Keeping it fresh 23 August, 2013 - One thing I find really helpful when it comes to keeping up my exercise is doing new things or doing familiar things in a different way. You're probably the same. Be it running a different course, doing a completely new weight-based exercise or even just mixing up the timing in a familiar exercise, breaking your routine in this way keeps things fresh. Read on to learn more about keeping it fresh and about the 2 new exercises for me today - standing straight arm raises and neck pulls.
Workshoe Workout 26 August, 2013 - I normally leave my gym shoes at work. However, last Friday I packed them up and took them home just in case I found a running partner over the weekend. Not only did I fail to go for a run, I also failed to bring the shoes back into work. Doh! So, yes, I rocked up to the gym in my gym clothes and black leather work shoes. Very fetching! And yes, Dirk ...
And then there were four 27 August, 2013 - After weeks of asking, reminding and cajoling, we now have two additional team members on team Almost Fit! Our two new members, Glen and Paul, have finally signed up to Tough Mudder! Awesome work boys! Read on to learn about my crazy 6Km run today.
Another day another workout 28 August, 2013 - As the title suggests, today's blog focuses on my workout. More chest and back.
My arms are so sore I can hardly walk 29 August, 2013 - While training hard is generally a good idea, depending on what you are training for and the exercises you are doing, care should be taken not to over train. So, having done chest yesterday, we did not do shoulders today. Instead we did a killer arm routine. ... .
Father’s Day starts early 30 August, 2013 - I didn’t get to train or run today as had a very important morning meeting ... a Father's Day morning tea at my kids’ school. There was coffee and bacon and egg rolls, which I enjoyed thoroughly at 7am! So, apart from the noise of a hundred kids yelling and carrying on bouncing around the hard surfaces of a school hall, it was perfect! Well, actually ...
A day of rest 1 September, 2013 - Today is Father's Day, at least in Australia and I took this as a good excuse; one might even say ‘reason’, to take things a little easy. Particularly after what was a rather tough day in the garden yesterday! I do like getting out in the garden. But not being able to see what I am doing does lead to some interesting adventures and ...
There can be only one … this week 2 September, 2013 - There is quite a bit in today’s post. It didn’t start out that way, but things just grew. In this post there is some Body Talk and the usual summary of my workout. I also reveal the results of today’s BioSignature Testing and share my musings on stupid balance-based exercises.
One step closer 4 September, 2013 - Today, thanks to a good mate who has been visiting us for a few days, I now have an Almost Fit graphic to use on the Almost Fit site. This is fantastic news as it is a piece of the puzzle that I was not going to be able to do on my own! So, […]
It’s Monday but it’s not legs 9 September, 2013 - Regular readers will have worked out by now that Mondays are almost always legs day. Well, not today. Today was back and chest ...
Doh, no mojo! 11 September, 2013 - Life has been pretty full over the last few weeks. What with getting this blog and the Almost Fit website up, usual lawyer work and some late and sleepless nights with sick kids, I really was feeling rather depleted today. And I must have looked it as well , even to Dirk. So ...
Coming clean 12 September, 2013 - OK, so, you might recall in my 'Day of rest' post me going on about hard work in the garden. I wrote: “I engaged in a little innocent gardening over the weekend and I am feeling it today!” Well, actually, what happened was that I aggravated an old rotator cuff injury from my swimming days. I didn’t think the damage was too bad, so I didn’t mention it at the time. All should be good for Tough Mudder though, don’t worry. But ...
Website is live with four weeks to go! 14 September, 2013 - Hello world, as they say! After months of writing and learning, this little blog of mine is ready to rock. WooHoo!!Can you believe it?

This post also introduces my new Facebook page and describes a local Saturday morning run with Dirk.
10% motivation and 90% routine – that’s all there is to it 25 September, 2013 - In my experience, getting fit is about 90% routine and only 10% motivation. And 90% of motivation is about setting realistic goals with the rest being a mixture of willpower and encouragement from others. One of my recent goals is to complete Tough Mudder and this has definitely motivated me to train more, to run more and to eat better. Except for that little trip to the wine country perhaps! If you are thinking about getting fitter, then ...
2Day FM and a challenge to Hamish Blake 3 October, 2013 - The Almost Fit team and I got a tiny bit of radio exposure today. At about 9:10 this morning, I had a minute or so on 2Day FM’s Kyle and Jackie O show talking about my Tough Mudder plans. I learnt that Hamish Blake, a well known Australian media personality who also has a show […]
World First Blind Tough Mudder 8 October, 2013 - On 12 October 2013, Darren Fittler, a blind man from Sydney Australia, will be participating in Tough Mudder. If he completes the course, Tough Mudder has confirmed that he will be the first blind person in the world to do so.
Epsom Salts, now that’s living dangerously 11 October, 2013 - With two sleeps until Tough Mudder, it’s into the bath with some epsom salts for me! Well, after some foam rolling, that is. Now that’s living dangerously! This post covers my BioSignature testing results for this week, which are pretty good, and also briefly talks about my eating over the last couple of weeks, of which there has been much!
We did it! Team Almost Fit completes all of Tough Mudder Sydney – 12 October 2013 13 October, 2013 - After 4 hours and 19 minutes of hay bales, iced water, mud walls, underground trenches, electric shock therapy, monkey bars, a half pipe, rocky trails, 10km of major leg cramps and the ingestion of more mud than a childhood worth of mud pies, we completed Tough Mudder Sydney! A massive thanks to the Almost Fit […]
My first audio post – a radio interview on 5RPH 19 October, 2013 - On Wednesday 16 October 2013, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Peter Greco for the 5RPH (1197AM) Vision Extra segment. With Peter’s questions and prompting, we explore what Tough Mudder is, a little about my preparation, some of the more difficult obstacles such as the skateboard halfpipe and the infamous Electroshock Therapy and […]
Tough Mudder Day – Episode 1 – Let’s get tough and do this thing 24 October, 2013 - In this first exciting instalment of Darren Fittler's historic Tough Mudder day, read about the morning preparations, getting to the Eastern Creek venue, registering and all that stuff, the buz, excitement, atmosphere and hype, the start, obstacle 1 - Bale Bonds and obstical 2 - the dreaded Electric Eal
4 Minutes of TV fame – guess that leaves me with 11 more to go?! 27 October, 2013 - Thanks to Bryan Seymour and the Channel Seven team who somehow turned the 10 hours or more of footage into a compelling four minute TV story about my Tough Mudder mission. I now have a new insight about, and respect for, this form of journalism and story telling! Read on to learn a little more and to find where you can stream an online version of the story.
Tough Mudder Day Episode 2 – My life is mud 28 October, 2013 - In this, the 2nd of 3 featured posts about Darren Fittler's Tough Mudder experience, read about how Darren confronted the obstacles known as kiss of mud, glory blades, trench warfare, cliff hanger and waterlogged all without sight! By the end of this post you will notice that he is starting to tire and his legs are starting to fail.
Tough Mudder Day Episode 3 – Time to dig deep and finish this thing! 5 November, 2013 - In Episode 2 we left Darren Fittler on his way to obstacle 9 - Cage Crawl - having just completed Obstacle 8 - Waterlogged. Read about how Darren completed the remaining 12 obstacles, including the dreaded Electroshock Therapy, and how he pushed through major leg cramps to become the first blind person in the world to complete any Tough Mudder course!

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