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Tough Mudder Tips

posted 14 Jul 2014, 17:38 by Dom McIntyre De Vitto   [ updated 20 Jul 2016, 05:21 ]
Mind
This is The Mudder Pledge, it's recited by every Mudder before every event, and embodies the spirit of Tough Mudder:
  • I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.
  • I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.
  • I do not whine – kids whine.
  • I help my fellow mudders complete the course.
  • I overcome all fears.
These values are 99.99% voluntarily adhered to through the course, in my 125 hours of doing TM, I've heard one person moan, once - they really didn't 'get' what it was about (see above), and thought it was too hard/muddy/long/silly.  Don't get me wrong, when I ask mudders, half the first timers say they'd never do another - but they are resolute that they are going over that finish line today.  Yes, this means the other half go on to do more events - often doing the same local TM every year.  The Everest-like level of challenges, and the feeling of brother/sister-hood is powerfully addictive.  Expect lots of high-5s and fist-bumps.

There is no clock at the start/end of TM - because how long you took is irrelevant, more important is 'How many have you helped?'.

Teams work together, but nobody is ever 'outside' of a team - I've even been co-opted into teams on the way round.
Mudder Legionnaires (also called multi-mudders - people who's done it before) really do help others through - I've raised spirits of the weary, lifted countless people up Everest, shouted at those who lost confidence halfway through 'Just the Tip' ("You will not fall in the water!  I am not letting that happen!"), held someones hand through 'Dirty Ballerina' and shoved enough female posterior up high walls for it to be relegated to a duty, not a pleasure!

Afterward, the look of achievement on people's face (mine included) is amazing - they faced a fear, and they overcame it.

Above it all, I've laughed so hard I nearly cried....

Body
I'd say you should be able to run 5 km (3 miles) , and probably be doing it at least once every couple of weeks, at a minimum.
If you can't do that, you'll probably be walking between obstacles, but more importantly, just walking the 10-13 miles over rough terrain requires your legs and feet to have stamina, and be able to operate - if you normally get a huge blister after 30 minutes of walking, then 4-5 hours will be hard.

You should be able to do at least 3 chin-ups.  There are obstacles that simply require you to pull yourself up or along (walls in particular), and even with someone pushing from below, you'll still need enough pull to finish the job.  Mudders will help, but you shouldn't rely on this - you should aim to help others more than you are helped !  If you can't achieve 3, you're 99.9% certain to get wet on Funky Monkey or Hanging Tough - but wet isn't too bad.


Garments
Socks
I recommend short, single-skinned, running socks.  Short so they don't soak up 10 kgs of water and weigh you down while you're in, or out, of the water.  Single-skinned because double-skinned ones tend to not let the water out - they are great for running without getting blisters, but they become like bags of water when submerged.  Do not expect your socks to survive.  I once washed a pair of socks 5 times by hand, and put them through the washing machine twice, and they were still gray and dirt was coming out - it was like a magic trick.  YMMV, but don't wear ANYTHING you really care about. as TM is not a garden picnic.

Trainers
I recommend trainers designed for trail running - e.g. Adidas Kanadia TR5 (I lost somehow my pair of TR5, so now have the nearly-as-good TR6).  Road trainers are NOT a good idea, they don't expel mud from the tread, and quickly become smooth-bottomed and slippy.  I wouldn't recommend road trainers for even trail running, and a TM is 10x worse than that.
Remember that your trainers will be submerged in muddy water for up to 5 minutes, so 'waterproof' ones are silly - they will just fill up.  TEST your shoes by running through at least shallow water and churned-up mud.   Make sure you've run at least two lots of 5 km in the shoes before the TM, as if they aren't comfortable, you will really feel it after a few miles. 
Let them dry out near-naturally (e.g. in sunlight, or in a airing cupboard) and then 'bang-off' the dry dirt.  Washing machines are not kind to trainers, and these shoes will become your best friend.

Shorts
People wear every kind of shorts imaginable - but really I'd go with whatever you're comforable running and crawling in.  You'd need to be an idiot to wear denim dungarees, but whatever you wear remember it's going to get very wet within 30 minutes of a 4+ hour event.  I cover my inner/upper legs in petrolium jelly and likewise the bottom edge of my dungarees, which are also completely soaked in a rug waterproofer solution.   'Short' shorts are probably best (I wear some underneath - 'just in case') but compression legwear can be good too.  Test whatever you wear on a 10k run after you've soaked yourself in water and check for chaffing, 'pockets filing with water' etc..

Pants/Knickers
Really? People do, but unless your shorts are entirely see-through when wet, it's probably not worth the extra wet-weight.  Shorts should have liners to stop your junk falling out, so any extra garments is dead weight you'll probably be chucking away rather than washing.

Bras
Much of the same applies here, though obviously sports bras may be 'necessary' - again a 5 or 10 km run test is probably enough to see.  Remember it will get soaked through, so your nipples may show through - but nobody will care.  If you care, I'd recommend waterproof plasters instead of going for a bra with padding - as it can just soak up water and double the problem.  Petroleum jelly on the edge/straps is probably also a good idea.

Tops
I tend to wear a long-sleeved top, because it goes with my costume, however most just wear short-sleeves.  This does expose elbows and forearms to cuts and grazes, but it's less wet-weight, and probably warmer that long-sleeves when wet and the wind is blowing.  Whatever top you choose, remember it needs to breath, and will be getting filled with water.  I'd recommend a size larger than normal, as when things are wet they stick to skin and are uncomfortable.  Ideally test your top by swimming in it and doing a 5km run afterwards.

Headwear
Want to wear something on your head?  Good luck!  It'll be fine when running, but remember you'll be diving under stuff, dodging electric wires, etc. etc. in particular with 'Cage Crawl' you only have maybe 6-9 inches (15-22cm) of head clearance for breathing.  I made the mistake of wearing 'minion' goggles, and this made the obstacle MUCH harder - same applies during Arctic Enema.  Now I move the goggles to around my neck, off my forehead, for this, and the other obstacles.  When jumping from 4m into muddy water, or being thrown through the air into water, expect anything that can be pulled off to disappear and not be seen again.

GoPro owners - there is a dedicated page as part of the TM 'lost and found' website for GoPros... ...why do you think that is ? :-)

The only thing that is normal headwear is your TM headband - though the same advice to wear it on your neck (or wrist) applies for some obstacles.

Gloves
I recommend training with, and wearing, gloves, e.g. open tip cycling gloves with a sponge palm.  Something with more grip than skin has when wet (and you hands will be wet when you need that grip the most).  They also protect a bit when crawling over rocks on your belly, and the spongy palms makes that easier.  Same goes for knees and kneepads really, but I don't mind cut / scarred knees ! :-)  Most don't wear gloves, so but it's worth making a considered decision about it.

Jewellery

For the electric events, they say remove any metal studs etc.  Frankly, it's more of a risk that it'll get snagged and tear your skin, and/or lost - you're crawling on your belly, swimming through muddy water etc. for plenty enough time to loose just about anything.
A meditag is probably the important exception here.


The Week Before

A week before you should get a course map email and 'information packet' with where exactly to park, directions (they close lots of local roads!) and other stuff.   Maybe consider Carb starving & load - don't overload on carbs.  TM provide bananas or energy bars at a couple of the water stops.
There are no cash machines on site, and only a very few (clothing) places might accept cards, so bring enough cash for parking, bag drop, buying a food afterwards (Cheese Burger & Chips is around £10).

On the Day

If it all goes wrong, they will probably accept a credit card as ID, can look up your ticket online, and probably have copies of waivers you can sign.  There will be up to 40,000 people doing it, so every oddity has already happened, many times.

Your Ticket

This will come attached to an email with 'Registration Confirmation for Tough Mudder' in the title, but is also on the Eventbright site for download.
The ticket is either a single printed A4 sized sheet or you can used the Eventbright (in the UK) mobile phone app.
I've never used the app at the entry point, but it seems pretty straight forward: Download app and login to see your tickets, or prove to others that you have one.

Waivers
Bring on the day your signed participant waiver (2 A4 sides, preferably on one sheet).
Spectators need Spectator Waivers too.
Extra waivers of both kinds are usually ('may') be available, but relying on that would be stupid.
No waiver, no entry - even spectators can trip on a clump of grass.

Your Number
Unlike many other events, you don't get your number until the day, after you're shown your ticket & handed in the waiver.

Courage
It will come in handy :-)

Food

I'd eat 90 mins before you start - Brown bread toast, with peanut butter and honey is like a Nitrious boost. (Carbs+Fat+Protien+Sugar)

What to do when you arrive
Look to arrive 60 mins before your start time, that might seem like a long time, but it's not because you'll need to:

On entry you'll need to pay £10 per car.
Park your car usually a 10 minute walk from the entry/start center.
Show PHOTO ID, your ticket and waiver at the entrance.
Receive your number, pin it on (suggest bringing bigger/better pins) , attach a supplied 'bag tag' to your wrist (orange) and your bag (white).
Get your arms and face numbered.  It's optional, but recommended!  Especially if you want to see photos of your taken around the course),
Put bag in bag drop (costs £3, and takes at least 5 mins)
Pee (Artic Enema is often one of the first obstacles - you won't want a full bladder for this :-) )
Legionnaires (aka Multi-Mudders, basically folks that have done it before) need to additionally register as such and get a headband if they didn't bring their old one.
Join the formal warm-up/start - where you'll hear the Mudder pledge and lost of Hoo-Rah! -ing :-)


Going Around

There are plenty of water stops (don't bring a bottle round the course!) and free banana and/or energy bar chunks on the way round, plus at the end.  I usually grab a couple of these bars to use for my next TM in case a rookie needs some energy between stops.

At the finish you get a lovely orange headband, a pint of (really nice actually!) ginger beer, some energy bars and a TM shirt.

 

Obstacle Strategies
Between the obstacles
Though everyone runs at the start, the course will be designed to spread out the pack, usually using steep hills before the first obstacle.  The best do a very mild jog all the way round, but most walk for maybe half the 11-13 mile course.  I like to keep my cardio raised so use the time and space between obstacles as a 'active recovery' where it's a chance to get oxygen back into your body and flush out any lactic acid in your muscles.

Don't forget to talk to others, joke, take the Micky and generally laugh with your mudder comrades - everyone is a brother and sister on the course, and forever afterwards.  I like to ask people what they'll be doing the same time next weekend - the answer is often 'grocery shopping' or something else extremely dull.  I think it helps people realise they are achieving something amazing today, something they will never forget.

Arctic Enema
Go, Go, Go !
Speed is important here - don't hang about and expect you body to 'get used to' ice cold water - it's freezing your muscles with every second you're in there.  They now have a ramp to get out, but in 2013 you had to climb/lift yourself out.  That was really hard because your muscles had already contracted and were about 50% effective :-(

Electroshock Therapy

Protect your head with your hands, like a boxer would - shocks to the head may disorient you, anywhere else is just going to illicit a rude word :-)

.....more to come !


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