Ace your Tough Mudder–Plan Like an Expert
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Training for the Tough Mudder is hard enough already. Let me help you prepare for the day of the event so you can focus on your training!
And don’t forget to read Part One of my Tough Mudder FAQ’s.
And you might also like>>8 Surprising Reasons Women Should Sign Up for a Tough Muder Right Now
As of June 2016, I’ve run a second TM! Go Me! I realized that I needed to make a few updates to this post. I’ve highlighted my updates. The thing to remember is that every course (and every year at the same course) will be a little different.
I’ve tried to give you useful information for your Tough Mudder experience. But the best advice I can give you is to Have Fun!
There will be snacks and drinks on the course (like when I run my other races), right?
If you’ve ever run a big race like a half marathon (and some 10K’s) then you’ve noticed that the race sponsors will treat you along the route to sips of Gatorade, orange slices, and other bite-sized samples of energy-boosting edibles.
At the Tough Mudder course we did there were a few water stations but that was all.
I expected a snack or two until I was covered in mud and realized I couldn’t even sip water without ingesting the little gritty pieces of rock and dirt that were smeared all over my lips. I’m going to assume this is why all the snacks are after the finish line (somewhere near the rinse stations and beer).
Well, we ran our second TM at the same site as our first, but this time we discovered bananas at two stations along the course and a chocolate-chip cookie dough protein bar at another (go easy on this one…we devoured them and all had stomach cramps within ten minutes).
Also, Cellucor was a sponsor at this course and gave out samples of this stuff. It’s what you expect—slimy, concentrated, barely ingestible. Clearly, not for everyone.
Will there be bathrooms on the course?
Yes, of course. However, I’d strongly advise you to empty your bladder as close to start time as possible and avoid an entire pot of coffee (it’s one morning of the year, people) the morning of your race.
Port-o-potties aren’t famous for their sparkling clean interiors and after a few hundred people covered in mud use them you can hardly imagine without seeing it yourself how bad it is (brown everywhere—need I say more?).
Also, ladies, it’s REALLY difficult to pull down wet, muddy pants to pee, it’s impossible to use toilet paper (think about how toilet paper reacts to moisture), and pulling your pants back into place is even more of a workout. I know all of this because I had to pee around mile 5.
Pro Tip: Look at the course map before the race. Take note of where the water stations and bathrooms are located. You’ll be glad you did this (just in case you need one).
I wouldn’t recommend eating a big breakfast. You don’t want to have any bowel excitement during the race.
I had a small cup of coffee and oatmeal on the morning of the event.
You can/should carb up and hydrate well 24 hours before your Tough Mudder.
Which obstacle did I underestimate?
Killa Gorilla! This was hill hell.
I found this obstacle to be SO HARD. It was a set of several hills all together that you had to snake up and down a few times. You may not have this obstacle on your course (Bless your heart!) but if you do then be ready.
This video is a sample of Killa Gorilla. The one at the Kentucky course we did had much bigger hills so be prepared for a unique experience at your location.
Killa Gorilla was gone in 2016 (at our TM, I can’t speak for your course). I did NOT miss it.
What did I do right?
- I picked the perfect color and fit for my outfit (more about that below). I can’t tell you how important it is to wear the right thing to this.
- VIP Parking! Best money I ever spent!
What was my favorite obstacle?
The Block Ness Monster was the best.
This was not on the course for my first Tough Mudder.
My sister told me she’d been scared of getting sucked under one of the blocks but don’t worry, you won’t. This one was really fun.
Did my training properly prepare me?
Yes! It was still really hard but I think I was well-prepared for the physical challenges of the course.
Can I just train for the obstacles? Or just the run?
Umm…you’re kidding right? You have to train for both.
I don’t care how far you can run, if you can’t lift more than a jug of milk then you’ll struggle on the obstacles.
And if you can bench press 350 but haven’t run more than a mile since middle school then you can’t really do this thing.
I’m not kidding. Buckle down and prepare properly. C’mon you want to impress your friends not injure yourself.
Is there a place to clean up before I get in my car?
Yes, there are rinse stations. This is a fancy phrase for a communal hosing-off station.
There was also a tent (at the course we ran, yours may be slightly different) for men and women to (separately) change clothes. But leave all your modesty at home.
The tent is just a big open space with a bunch of naked, filthy women trying to wipe dirt out of all their nooks and crannies so they can put on something clean to drive to a real shower.
I saw one woman with a box of baby wipes that she was using to clean out everything before she got dressed. I was really jealous of that box of baby wipes. She almost laughed out loud when I asked her for a single wipe. Not cool, lady. There’s a special place in hell for her and those wipes. Share your baby wipes, girls.
What should I bring with me on race day?
- A towel!! Do not forget this. Grab an old beach towel (or two) so you can dry off after you rinse your body. People were offering us money for our extra beach towels after the race. True story.
- A change of clothes. Don’t forget a change of clothes. You’ll need everything—including fresh undergarments, shoes, and socks.
- Bring a trash bag to put all your muddy clothes in.
- I’d bring one of those roll-on sticks to apply a thick coat of that waxy sunscreen to your face, ears and neck. And a tube of something thick to put on your arms. I know you’ll be covered in mud but you can still get a sunburn.
- Your entry ticket and waiver form. C’mon, people, read the instructions and bring these with you. You’ll need to print them out at home (or I think they can scan the entry ticket barcode from your smartphone). The waiver has to be filled out. Do it before you get there. No one will have a pen when you want it.
- Try to talk a few people that like you into coming out to take pictures and cheer you on. It’s fun. However, remember it’s a long day. Whoever comes out to support you may be there 3-5 hours. We saw many people with their small kids and strollers. You can’t push a stroller in a field. Just saying. Babies get really heavy and bored when you’re trudging through a field or sitting around. There are a few designated seats at certain spots on the course but the available seating appeared to be limited. Your great-grandma and newborn may want to just look at the pictures later.
What should I wear?
SHIRT: Wear a semi-fitted shirt that hits just below your waist.
Anything longer will trip you up and be a cumbersome hassle once it’s full of wet mud. Anything shorter won’t cover your ass. That part is important to me but if you want to show off your butt then go for it.
PANTS: Ladies, I recommend tights that cover your knees.
You’ll be crawling a lot and that little bit of material will protect your knees and thighs from lacerations. The mud is full of rocks and other unidentifiable solid things.
BRA: Wear a tight sports bra. Can I wear just a sports bra (and no shirt)? Sure. You may look incredible but remember what I said about those rocks cutting up your knees?
Add elbows, shoulders, abs, and back to that list of places that may need a band-aid when you’re done if you just wear a sports bra and no shirt over it.
UNDERWEAR: This will be personal preference but I chose to put this one additional layer between me and the mud.
Won’t mud get in my underwear? Yes, of course it will.
Every crevice and orifice of your body will have mud in it but in the vacuum that I call my brain, it makes me feel better to try and protect my lady parts from whatever wildlife is swimming in that mud.
SOCKS: I wore ankle socks on my first Tough Mudder and I wished I’d chosen longer ones. My socks were sucked into my shoes by the 3rd mile and never seen again.
I had blisters at the back of both heels. This time I’ll be wearing socks that come up to my shins. At least when they fall down they’ll stop at my ankles and protect my heels (in theory) from blisters.
I wore shin-high socks like these for TM 2 and it was a great decision. I recommend ankle length or longer.
SHOES: Train in the shoes you’ll be wearing in the Tough Mudder (or another pair of the same style). My husband bought trail shoes for the event so he’d have more traction. I wore my running shoes (Nike Lunarglide+ 5*).
I can’t tell he had any better results. The important thing is that you wear shoes that are comfortable on your feet. DO NOT wear a pair of shoes you’ve never worn before. This could really backfire on you. You’ve been warned.
For my second TM race I wore a pair of UA Speedform Fortis*. I’ve worn running shoes every year. My sister and husband both wore trail running shoes.
What about the other cool stuff I want to wear during the race? My Go Pro? My flashy headband? Hat? Iphone? Camera? Heart rate monitor?
I’d leave all of this stuff at home (or in the car).
We saw a lot of people wearing Go Pro’s. They may have finished the race with them, I’m not sure. But the other stuff would be a mistake to bring with you.
What am I going to do different next time?
Not skip anything!
*Check out Tough Mudder FAQ’s Part One to see which obstacle I skipped (twice now)
Also, I think my husband and I are both working on creating a bigger team (so far there are 3 on our team for the next race…we should really make some more friends). You don’t have to have more than two people on your team but it’s more fun to have someone you know cupping your ass up over a wall than a total stranger.
While I did skip an obstacle again this year (King of Swingers, AGAIN). I mastered the Funky Monkey this time and felt like a superstar!
Do you have any questions that I missed? Email me or post them below in the comments section! I’d love to help.
And don’t forget to read Part One of my Tough Mudder FAQ’s.
And if you’re just get started on your training then you can read about my free Tough Mudder Training Template, too.
Good luck at your Tough Mudder!!
“Life is complicated. Fitness doesn’t have to be.”
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