Ah the Tough Mudder…It’s becoming a huge event across the United States and even the world. I had the pleasure of training for it over the last several months and just completed the course with a team of of 15. We called ourselves “Team Arduous”. It was a great bonding experience to get to know all the others from our team better over the course of the training.
What is it?
The Tough Mudder was designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. The course ranges from 10-12 miles and consists of 25-30 different obstacles along the way made up of fire, mud, tunnels, barbed wire, electic shocks and a few surprises. One of the Tough Mudder’s mottos is “no Mudder left behind”. We succeeded with that goal! Now that you know what it is, you may be asking yourself: Tough Mudder – What to expect?
When to arrive?
We had a 9:20 AM start time and I left my house before 6. Having the extra time was nice so I could park and walk into the event, find my teammates, get my gear on and check my bag. You certainly do not want to be rushed or get stuck in traffic on the way to the event. They suggest that you arrive 2 hours before your start time and I agree.
What to bring
1.) Sunscreen – if you don’t want to burn, it’s a must. Even if you are covered with mud, the sun has a special way to sneak up on you. Being sunburnt on top of being sore doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.
2.) Gloves – like shoes, this is debatable. I chose to wear a pair of biking gloves with the fingers cut out. I wore them for the Hanging Tough obstacle but that was the wrong choice! I slipped right away and into the water I went. Most of my teammates didn’t have gloves and most of they made it across. One of the main reasons I wore gloves was for the 15 foot rope climb and then it didn’t show up on the course. It must have been a last minute scratch.
3.) Shoes – Big debate on this one. I ended up wearing my Inov8′s and it turned out to be a great decision. They cleaned up nicely and they didn’t weigh me down. I went into more detail on the big shoe debate here.
4.) Nylon or some type of dry fit shorts and shirt. I went with a nylon shirt that I received from a 10k and threw it away after we finished. It was trashed. My shorts will be cleaned. NO COTTON. Seems like a no brainer but you will regret it.
5.) Black paint under eyes. Many were using this and I didn’t. I made a mental note for next time. I am sure it would be quite helpful on those sunny days.
6.) Signed waiver form. Print if off in advance and bring with you on the day of the event to save you some time.
7.) Cash, driver’s license, etc. I almost forgot this. You’ll need your ID for registration/check-in and money if you want to purchase any merchandise or food after you finish.
8.) Change of clothes. You’ll want to get somewhat cleaned up after and then hang out and soak up the environment.
9.) Camera – You’ll want to capture lots of pics for long term memories. It’s best to have some family or friends there with you as spectators so they can take care of camera duty. If you have a GoPro video camera, brint it. It’s a perfect event to record.
10.) Phone – DUH. You will need to be able to get ahold of your group.
What NOT to bring
1.) Anything Cotton – Once wet, it will feel like a million pounds.
2.) Sunglasses – some were wearing them but that seemed like too much overhead for me. If you bring them, check them with your bag.
3.) Energy boosts – they have them at some of the water stations along with bananas.
Why would ANYONE want to do this?
That is the question I would have asked a few years ago but today I totally understand and “get it”. In order to really get that high of achievement, and completion of a goal you have to put yourself through a bit of discomfort. The same holds true for many things in life way beyond Tough Mudder and fitness events. The overall positive energy at these types of events is hard to explain. The only way to feel it is to take the plunge (literally) and experience for yourself!
The obstacles – the good and the bad
1.) Everest – A half pipe crawl to the top. I got a good running start and jolted right up to the top. I saw how much weather can play a part on this one. If it’s wet and rainy, good luck.
2.) Monkey Bars – I was wondering how I would do on this one the most. I’ve heard some of the bars are greased with butter but I didn’t find this to be the case. The would turn a lot but not greasy. The first 2 were shaky for me but then I got in a rhythm and made it through to the end. Momentum is key!
3.) Berlin Walls – I enjoyed this one. I felt daring and wanted to take a stab at it myself but had a great teammate being the foundation and sprung us up and over.
1.) Artic blast – it was our first obstacle and it kind of freaked me out more than I thought. I jumped into the freezing cold green water and then needed to go under a wooden wall to the other side. As I went down I couldn’t find the hole and came back up for air. I was getting really cold at this point and freeking out slightly. I took a breath, found the hole and easily pulled myself to the other side. So I freaked out for a few seconds but all was good in the end. Off to the next obstacle I went.
2.) Run through all the tree debris – it was a good way to turn an ankle if not careful.
3.) Boa Constrictor – This was marginal. I thought it would be worse but it went down then into cold water then back up again. The going up part was far more difficult and cut at my arms more from the metal.
Train for it! I suggest being able to run without stopping for about 5 miles at least. It will make it a lot better on yourself. I worked up to 6 miles and also worked in a steady dose of P90X2 / P90X One on Ones as my preparation.
Remember where you parked! After going through the grueling run and obstacles, you don’t want to walk all over aimlessly looking for your car to get home. Maybe I was still in a little brain fog from finishing but I was guilty of this. Who knew that this would become one of the biggest challenges of the day! On top of that traffic was terrible getting out and was made worse with at least one accident. What normally would be a 45 minute drive home turned into at least double that. Plan ahead and prepare for extra time.
Enjoy it and have fun. That is the whole idea. It will push your limits but you will come out of it feeling euphoric, a sense of accomplishment towards a goal and some great friendships. Whoo0-RAH!