07 January 2018

Top Tips for Tackling Tough Mudder

Cider makes everything better....

So maybe your 2018 resolution was to sign up to Tough Mudder or some other obstacle race? Do something out of your comfort zone or set yourself a new challenge you might be thinking?

Yep, that was me last year when I fell in to peer pressure to sign up to Tough Mudder at Badminton Estate (also that place for that well-known horse event) in Gloucester. At the end of the day, it was for charity. I just tried not to think about the 10 muddy miles & 20+ obstacles. It’s like cross country for humans. Right?


In 2017 for about 6 months Tough Mudder dominated a lot of my conversations, before, during & after – so I thought I’d share some of my pearls of wisdom on how to get yourself to the start line.

How far out before the race should you start training?

I probably spent about 3 months trying to get myself into a good physical state & a couple of weeks trying to sort out my mental state & avoid pulling out!

TM produces several training guides to help you get to the start line… they do seem pretty full on. & I suppose with a lot of things it's taking the best from each & finding what suits you. However, if you like routine & are good at following a guide then this one is for you.

How fit do you have to be to take part in a Tough Mudder?

Running…

I’d say if you can comfortably run 5km without walking, then great. And if you can bust out a 10km without much worry even better. You’ll find there are people who’ll do no exercise what so ever & will suffer from the off or pay for it for the following week. Why do that to yourself?

There are loads of great apps out there to get you off the couch to 5km. Nike is always a good place to start & once you’ve got into the swing of things, get yourself down to a local parkrun. It’s free & actually pretty fun, plus it’s great to track your improvement week in week.

Join your local parkrun to help boost your fitness...

Or if you can run with friends or a local running club even better as they’ll help cheer you on as you progress over the weeks.

Running with friends is a great motivator...

On the day you’ll find that not everyone runs around the course which I was quite taken back by. The obstacles do zap your energy & you may only be able to muster up a little jog in between or fast walk. Just do what you or your teammates feel best. Definitely, listen to your body, & ultimately you want to make it round in one piece.

Strength & Conditioning

Now, this is an area I should have dedicated more time to, & would advise that at least 1 month out you go to a circuit or HIIT class. Alternatively, there are some good online PTs who put workouts online which you can follow in your own time & own home, I’d recommend Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach, Kayla Itsines or Emily Skye.

I joined forces with a local group who were also training for Tough Mudder & attended about 3 Sunday sessions which included a 5k+ run & 30+ mins of circuit style training – ropes, flipping tyres, weights etc. I’d do this & then run off to go ride 2 horses, so got an extra 2 hours of cardio!

Tough Mudder has just introduced some new 10-minute cardio sessions on YouTube which look good weather or not your training for TM or just want to get back into shape.

What trainers would you wear for TM?

Some people wore trail shoes, TM promotes Merrell trail trainers, which are currently on sale at £50. 

Everyone in my group just wore a pair of trainers they didn’t mind trashing. At the end of the course, there’s a place for people to ditch their unwanted muddy trainers.

Trainer heaven...RIP

What about the rest of your kit, what would you wear?

Long sleeve top & leggings to avoid getting scratched up. I wore my cycling gloves to help get a better grip on some of the obstacles & then took them off for the water ones. Running socks & a charity vest of course. We did debate knee pads but ditched them last minute as they were too bulky & we’re not that wussy.

What do you eat before the race?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel pretty sick the morning of the event. I managed poached eggs & salmon on toast; drunk lots of water as well as a Naked Superfood smoothie & Lucozade - more as a sporting ritual than anything.

It’s a good idea to carb up the night before – a good excuse to eat lots of pasta!

On the course, I took a bag of jelly beans for energy & something to nibble on, as we ended up out of course for about 4 hours!

What’s the atmosphere like?

Electric. It’s so much fun seeing people complete the course with great big the smiles on their face & hoping you’ll be the same. The warm-up pen is a really good laugh. We had a very exuberant presenter taking us through some dodgy warm-up moves, it got everyone in the mood for the event before we were let loose on the 10-mile course.

Is it really that muddy?

Yep… the first few obstacles are pretty nice, wooden struts, hay bales & then by the time you get to the 3rd or 4th obstacle you’re face down in the mud. The obstacles are mixed up between muddy & water ones, so you do have a bit of let up, but it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. Especially when you have one obstacle called mud mile – prepare to get mud where you didn’t expect to!

Mud..glorious...mud...
Somewhere on the Mud Mile...SOS....

What’s the best way to tackle the obstacles?

Take each one at a time & teamwork is the only way to get around. You’ll see some amazing sights, people of all sizes & disabilities. I remember one group managed to get a guy who was a paraplegic round & it made us all man up just that little bit more! You’ll also find strangers helping one & other, so repay the favour.

What were your favourite obstacles?

Mainly the dry ones! I was pleased to run up Pyramid Scheme with very little help & Blockness Monster was fun – although half of that was in the water. Check out the current TM obstacles here.

And the least favourite obstacles?

Arctic Enema – the ice bath, literally took my breath away. I’m not the biggest fan of going underwater & this one gave me nightmares beforehand. & the last obstacle Electric Shock Therapy was brutal – especially as I got electrocuted twice face planting in the mud each time. At least there was a cider being handed out when we finished.

Electric Shock Therapy!!

Would you do it again?

Well, not Tough Mudder this year. It was an amazing experience & great to get around as a team. It’s definitely good for team bonding!! Although the memory of some of those obstacles are still pretty vivid. Maybe next year?

Happy...muddy..people...

What’s next?

Who knows… maybe another obstacle race or some trail runs. I’m ready for a new challenge that’s for sure.

Hopefully, I haven’t put anyone off Tough Mudder too much. It’s an amazing experience & something I’d recommend everyone doing at least once in their life. Once you get into it, you’ll meet people who do it every year & some that travel the world to complete Tough Mudder, so it’s pretty addictive.

For more information on Tough Mudder head to their website here 

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