I’ve run 5 Tough Mudders and have 5 more scheduled this year. To say I’m Mudder obsessed may be an understatement. Many have asked about training and such, so I decided to do a Tough Mudder brain dump. Here are a few thoughts on training and prep if you are considering one.
This is the No. 1 question I’ve gotten about Tough Mudders since I started running them last year and it’s a hard one for me to answer.
For my first Mudder I had no idea what to expect. My training consisted of BodyPump (weight training) 2 days a week, 2-3 short runs (< 3 miles), 1 long run (~5 miles), and what I’ll call dynamic training. Click here to see some sample workout videos.
I was prepared and able to complete the course with help on many of the obstacles.
Four other Tough Mudders later, I train differently and have made tons of progress needing less help on the course than I did that first event.
Now I take CrossFit 4-5 times a week and try to get at least 1 longer run in ranging from 3-6 miles. I’ve also added yoga once a week but it’s hard to be consistent with it.
My suggestion for training is to find something you like to do for overall strength. You will be doing a lot of climbing, jumping and crawling, so something a bit more dynamic than just lifting weights would help immensely. Think boot camp or CrossFit.
In addition to the strength training, start running. All Tough Mudder courses are 10-12 miles so if you’ve ever run a half you’ll be fine on the distance part. If you haven’t have no fear, you never run more than a mile or 2 without an obstacle break. Because of this I actually find the Mudders less grueling than a half. I would minimally work up to at least 5-6 miles in your training routine.
You may also want to train for running and strength together. For example, run a mile and then do a series of push-ups, squats, lunges and sit-ups before running another mile. This will get you used to the run-obstacle-run-obstacle sequence of the event.
There are 2 obstacles that make Tough Mudders really stand out:
The Arctic Enema
You can’t train for this. You just have to bite the bullet and jump into the icy water. Sure, you can fill your tub with ice and practice, but it’s still going to suck on event day. I’d rather only do it when necessary. I’ve jumped into ice water exactly 5 times, which happens to be the number of Mudders I completed in. No additional ice jumps for me, thank you very much!
Getting shocked is another thing you can’t really prepare for and is, quite frankly, my least favorite part of the event. My goal is to literally not curse my way through any obstacle with electricity.
I have not yet succeeded.
What to Wear
Props to those who complete these things in costumes. I honestly don’t know how they do it. I’ve wore the same pair of New Balance running capris — which unfortunately they don’t make anymore — paired with a tight fitted tank that has a built-in bra, and an additional black sports bra.
The key is to wear tight, form-fitting pieces that dry quickly. Once I made the mistake of wearing a cotton tank to a mud run. By the end of the event it was hanging down to my knees.
As for shoes, I’ve always worn an old pair of running shoes, which have survived. I just threw them in the washer with my muddy clothes and they washed right up.
Speaking of, my friend Jimmy, who has run 9 Tough Mudders, finally retired his shoes after our double header.
That’s right, he has worn the same shoes for 9 Tough Mudders. So I wouldn’t worry about them too much. If you don’t want to deal with the muddy sneaks after the event, you can donate them on site at the Mudder.
Be prepared to meet some really cool folks. the Tough Mudder community is, for the most part, warm and welcoming. Almost everyone from staff to volunteers to fellow participants has been super nice. There’s very much a feeling of camaraderie and team work. Everyone there is ready to have a good time.
What to Bring
For as many people who participate, Tough Mudders have some of the best organized bag-check areas. Everything is separated by bib number, and I don’t think I’ve ever had to wait more than 5 minutes to drop off or pick up my bag.
Because of that, I don’t fear bringing things with me. I always pack a bag with a towel, change of clothes, and flip flops. You’ll also need some cash, your ID, and phone/camera.
Side note: I just found out there’s a Tough Mudder Lost and Found. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the GoPro!
Be prepared to feel like a million bucks when you cross that finish line. They “crown” you with a Tough Mudder head band and you won’t care how cold, muddy or crazy you look. You will wear it proud, as you should.
When you get home, take off your clothes IN the shower unless you want to sweep up rocks and dirt from the bathroom floor. The marker they use to write your number on your head is easily removed with a wash cloth and soap. The bruises may take a bit longer to heal.
Looks WAY worse than it is. I promise! And remember that was after 2 Mudders!
Overall, my best piece of advice is to HAVE FUN with it. The training, the experience, the mud, the ice bath, even the electric shocks. The point is to challenge and push yourself out of your comfort zone. I’ve seen folks bail on an obstacle because the lines were too long or they didn’t want to get wet.
You’re running A TOUGH MUDDER for pete’s sake. What’s the point of paying to register if you aren’t going to give it 100 percent.
I won’t lie, I’ve considered skipping an obstacle and then I think, “Why? THIS is why I’m here. I want to see if I can do it. If I fail at least I know I tried.”
Here are a few links to posts and recap videos of the Mudders I’ve run. Let me know if you any any other questions in the comments.
- Tough Mudder PA 2012 – My First one with video recap!
- Photos from Tough Mudder PA 2012
- Tough Mudder Florida 2012 with photos and video clips
- Tough Mudder SoCal 2013 with fun video recap
- My 2013 Tough Mudder Schedule
- 2 Tough Mudders in 2 Days – Mid Atlantic 2013 – 2 Minute recap Video