The Tough Mudder is an 11+ mile slog through lots of mud and every hazard imaginable. What should you know before doing one? Read on!
Read time: 6 minutes
The Tough Mudder course will test your endurance, strength, speed, agility, and mental toughness.
You will be challenged, mentally and physically, during every last inch of the race.
Races like the Tough Mudder have become hugely popular recently, most likely due to the fact that it gets you out of the safety of modern day life and into a little danger, all while connecting to your inner primal human.
The fact is, the Tough Mudder isn’t really a race at all, it’s more of an obstacle course done at your own pace.
Just finishing it is the prize in this case.
There is no timer or time limit.
You can skip any obstacle you want, and it’s actually encouraged that you skip obstacles that are a little too much for you.
It’s a fun event that will teach you a lot about yourself and what you’re made of.
Here are 10 things, based on my experience, that you should know before getting muddy.
1. It’s Dirty as Hell
It’s called Tough Mudder for crying out loud. You will get dirty, and this means mud in every orifice (yes even in your eyes and mouth), there’s just no way around it. Prepare to get dirty. I’m kind of germophobe myself, so it was tough getting mud on my body, and that goes double for my face. If you’re not okay with this, don’t do it. This doesn’t mean you have to be completely covered in mud at the end (like some people take pride in), but you will not come out clean and unscathed.
Pro tip: Bring a bar of soap, an extra set of clothes, and extra set of shoes, and a couple towels so you can wash off, rinse off, and dry off thoroughly in the rinse station after.
2. You Will Bleed
Some of the obstacles are pretty tough, and you probably will be full of scrapes after the event like I was. You will be pushing, pulling, climbing, and crawling through wet, muddy, dirty, rocky environments. You might get caught on the barbed wire, and you will bang and scrape every possible part of your body against something. It’s just the nature of the beast, embrace it!
3. You Need to Be In Good Shape and Have Pretty Good Endurance
This should go without saying, but this isn’t a kiddy ride. The whole course covers about 11 – 12 miles, and by the end, unless you run the distance regularly, you will be toast. The biggest problems were cramps and overuse injuries. Twisted ankles were a common sight as well. You will need to take great care running through the rough terrain and be careful when navigating through the obstacles. Also be sure to stay hydrated and keep your electrolyte balance in check to prevent dehydration and cramping. Be smart, be safe, and be prepared. I would work up to being able to walk/run at least 6-10 miles before the event day, all while maintaining strength and muscle.
4. You Will Need to Master Your Bodyweight and Be Able to Manipulate It
This has to do with some of the more physically intensive obstacles that involve climbing, swinging, and crawling. Some of these obstacles will have you crawling or climbing up (wet and muddy) tubes, swinging from rings, and hanging from monkey bars. This requires tremendous upper body strength. To prepare for these kinds of obstacles, get in a good dose of pull-ups, dead hangs, push-ups, crunches, and planks.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Wear Protective Clothing
A lot of people were shirtless, and that was just stupid. Some obstacles have you crawling through dark gritty surfaces, and most of these surfaces will tear your skin up. What we did was wear t-shirts, but take them off for the running between obstacles. This gives your skin protection for the grittier obstacles. Gloves, knee and elbow sleeves, longer shorts, and socks would also help, however getting scraped up will be pretty much unavoidable. Also, don’t forget the sunscreen, because you will be outside in the hot sun for 3-5 hours straight.
Pro-tip: Wear moisture-wicking clothing. You will be soaked, and wet clothing will add pounds of dead weight.
6. Do Every Obstacle, or at Least Attempt Every Obstacle
The whole point of the Tough Mudder is to push yourself out of your comfort zone. If you skip the obstacles you’re uncomfortable with, why even do it? Now if you have a health concern, or you are injured, cramping, or don’t feel right, by all means skips some of the nastier ones, like the ones with electrical shocks or that require extreme effort. If you don’t have any health concerns, do every obstacle. Push yourself. Believe me I wanted to skip a few of them, but I didn’t, and that was the whole point, to push myself past my limits.
7. You Might Get Injured
The Tough Mudder is an intensive physical effort, over many types of terrain and obstacles, over a long distance. Many people got injured. The most common seemed to be cuts, scrapes, twisted ankles, muscle cramps, and just general fatigue. Do your due diligence before signing up and make sure you are physically and mentally in good enough shape to handle it, and don’t even attempt it if you have a pre-existing medical condition or injury.
8. It’s Mostly Mental
Much like a marathon, a Tough Mudder is as much mental as physical. You will not only need to be prepared to cover a long distance running and walking, but also prepared to go through some very tough obstacles, some that will require you just to eat shit (not literally, but maybe) and do them without over-thinking it.
Pro-tip: when you come up on an obstacle, just do it. Don’t sit and think about it. The more you think, the more it builds up in your head, and the worse it will be.
9. Be Sure to Wear Proper Footwear
I wore some old Nike running shoes, and these did pretty well, but a shoe with a grippier sole would have made it a lot easier to climb some of the hillier, muddier obstacles. Be sure the shoe has enough cushion and support for the long haul, but also provides protection as well. Don’t worry about waterproofing or any of that jazz, your feet (and mostly everything else) will be wet and muddy the entire time.
10. You Can Do It!
Yes, anyone can do it! If you train, both physically and mentally, for the event, you can conquer it. There were people from all walks of life there, all shapes, sizes, genders, races, skill levels, and backgrounds. I’ll give anyone props for even showing up, much less walking across that finish line. It’s a hell of an accomplishment.
The Tough Mudder is all about being pushed outside of your comfort zone.
If you cross that finish line, even if you skipped a few obstacles, in my opinion you’re an elite athlete and a total badass.
The point of it all really is to beat yourself, your doubts, your fears, and your weaknesses.
You’ll learn a lot about yourself from doing a Tough Mudder, and you’ll earn the right to call yourself a tough SOB if you finish one!
Check out www.mudder-guide.com for more info on training, gear, and obstacles. It’s a great resource that I used to prepare for the event.
Contact me, or leave a comment below!
Featured image credit: TheMoneyShot at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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