Whether you’ve already signed your “Death Waiver” or you’re just contemplating the idea of running the Tough Mudder, these tips will help make sure you show up on race day prepared.
Opt for something with a trail tread that will drain well and that you don’t mind getting dirty. Many people wear old shoes, just make sure they are not completely worn out. You’ll be happy to have the extra traction. I bought a $40 pair of New Balance running shoes with a trail bottom, that are my dedicated “mud run” shoes. After each run, I hose them off, toss em in the washer, and air dry them. They look brand new after every race. Also, while we are on the subject of shoes….Don’t duct tape your shoes on! I know people think it keeps the mud out and helps to keep your shoe from get sucked off in the pits of real sticky mud. In my opinion, it’s just one more thing that’s going to make you more uncomfortable and possibly slow you down. Just tie your shoes tight. Trust me, nothing is going to stop the mud from getting in every single nook, cranny, and crevice. All along the course you’ll see abandoned duct tape from mudders that realized it’s hindering not helping.
No cotton or any material that absorbs and holds water. You want material that will shed the water. Anything that will wick away moisture (Nike dry-fit, Under Armour). Cotton has a tendency to chafe and it WILL weigh you down. The clothing you choose should fit snug. The tighter the better! Personally I think no shirt for guys and a sports top for girls is best. Your clothing is not going to keep you warm, it will be wet and muddy for the whole race. Think minimal. The only purpose your clothing will serve is for protection against abrasions.
I like gloves but you don’t need them. Many do just fine without them. They do help with the “Funky Monkey.” I use the Gorilla Gloves from Home Depot and cut the finger tips off. Price is around $4. Its a stretchy spandex-like material with a rubber dipped palm. The gloves are nice because they are cheap, light, have great wet grip and don’t hold water. I know some guys buy the wide receiver football gloves, but it’s unnecessary and they are pricey.
A combination of functional fitness and running will be needed if you want to finish strong. P90x is perfect for preparing for the Tough Mudder. It will build the physical strength and stamina required to push through obstacle after obstacle. The Tough Mudder obstacles are not like your typical mud runs. Tough Mudder takes it up a few notches. You WILL need upper body strength. You will also need to be able to run 10-12 miles. Tough Mudder recommends being able to run 5 miles, but if you want to do well you need to be able to run at least 9. You can get by with less if you don’t mind walking some of it. Most people overestimate how far they can run. Don’t make that mistake. If you want to become a better runner, then you need to run! I don’t know about you, but I never want to be the weakest link so I always try to come prepared. If your reasonably healthy and not extremely over weight you can be more than ready for the mudder in 3 months doing Insanity, P90x or P90x2 combined with running. I will have a training schedule up soon.
-Bring your buddies-
Mud runs in general are always better with a group of friends. Bring some friends that don’t mind getting dirty and banged up. It’s a great experience to share with family and close pals, that will undoubtedly bring you closer. If you can’t find any friends with the same bowling ball sized cojones as you, don’t worry, within the first mile or so you’ll be adopted by one of the many teams looking to help others along the way.
-Help your fellow Mudder-
Tough Mudder is not really a race, it’s a challenge. With that in mind, the goal is to finish, not to finish first. “No mudder left behind,” is the mantra and it’s in full effect. I have never seen such camaraderie and teamwork on a scale of that magnitude. Everywhere you look, every obstacle, stranger helping stranger. It’s a beautiful thing and I still get goose bumps as I write about it. You’re experience will be so much more enjoyable if you take part in the camaraderie. Remember everyone is in it together.
This will be an experience like no other. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. The mudder is for people that want a challenge. It’s going to hurt, but it’s going to be fun. Embrace it, enjoy every mouthful of mud, every volt of electricity, every slip and fall; when you finish (if you finish) and they put that orange headband around your mud covered dome the enormous feeling of accomplishment will be overwhelming. You will officially be a Tough Mudder…wear that headband with pride. I know I do.
Be sure to check back soon for my Tough Mudder Training schedule. It will be a combination of P90x and running.