As the name suggests, Tough Mudder is going to be tough.
After initially signing up, you said that you would be in the shape of your life, don’t lie, we all said it.
I know I did.
I wanted to be able to run 10km without breaking a sweat, climb walls like a parkour kid, jump over moving vehicles… but now that the day has actually come, I have just realised that I can’t even cross the road without putting my life in danger.
However, I have bought the ticket, I want the Tough Mudder headband, and I’m already thirsty for that end of race beer.
So, I’ve devised a 10 step plan for success… Tough Mudder, you’re going down.
This is probably going to be one of the most important things that anyone can do before their starting time.
Stretching arms, legs, backs, and any movable body parts, will provide a solid foundation to avoid injury, and give your muscles that extra edge when it comes to the point of no return – the start line.
Running, jogging, or walking 15’ish km is no mean feat, but it will make for angry feet if you choose the wrong type of footwear. Choose something comfortable, with grippy rubber soles, and laces.
You don’t want your soaked shoes to be weighing you down, and making that eerie flipflop sound as you march your way around Loughcrew, so tie your laces tight and have some good thick socks to boot.
Tough Mudder is not about looking good, it’s about feeling good. Clothes that are functional rather than fashionable will be best.
Cover elbows and torso, as with climbing over walls, or scurrying through tunnels, your elbows will be subject to a battering, so the more protection, the better.
You could probably say the same for knees too, but short shorts are all the rage this summer!
Have a quick look at the course, and understand what you are getting yourself into. It’s an endurance race, not a sprint, so know when and where you can conserve energy between obstacles by slowing down, taking on fluids, and taking in the people and place that will be surrounding you, because there are sure to be some characters.
This is a good shout in my opinion. If the weather is anything to go by, once the first group of people touch ropes, monkey bars, climbing walls, everyone who follows is going to be left with a slippery, muddy mess to deal with.
Gloves might offer that little extra grip that we so desperately need when hanging over a saliva and sweat infused mud bath.
Like any sport, preparation and diet is almost more important than actual fitness levels, so on the day before, make sure to consume carbs, and lots of them. Pastas, potatoes, rice, and wholemeal breads, anything that will fill your stomach, and give you a slow release of energy that will see you through the race.
Sugary foods and snacks will be good for an initial energy burst off the starting blocks but I wouldn’t be relying on apple drops and gummy bears in the long run.
Training is an obvious one at this stage, but we’re doing Tough Mudder, and it’s this weekend.
If it’s too late, it’s too late. Accept it and move on.
Should you have the time, however, long distance – steady state cardio will work the trick for endurance, making your body comfortable with slogging it out over a few km. As for strength, many people will go straight for upper body, and while having chiseled arms and rock hard abs is an effective way of looking tough, I’m not sure if it will help.
Leg exercises should form the basis of your routine. Think about it, when climbing a wall, you jump and grip the top, and then it’s up to your legs to scramble your body weight to the top, or swing a leg over. Running, legs. Jumping, legs. Crawling, legs. Your legs are also one of your biggest muscle groups so to underestimate their power would be your first mistake.
Everyone at Tough Mudder is there for a good time. Whether they are sprinting and leading the charge to the next obstacle, or at the rear, watching the chaos ensue, everyone wants to have a laugh.
So join in.
Many obstacles will also require more than one person, so grab a partner, and tackle it together. You may think that you have nothing in common, but you are running through a field, in the midst of July, covered in mud, and wanting to finish the race in one piece, so that’s a common enough trait I would like to think!
Jump head first into every obstacle. It might not look good from the outset but you will be glad that you did it come the end of the day. But at the same time, don’t jump!
If there is a mud pool to your left and right, a pile of bodies straight in front, just take the plunge. You’re going to be wet and muddy anyway, so don’t risk a sprained ankle, or twisted knee, just to avoid a puddle that, after injuring yourself, or slipping, you’re going to fall into anyway.
10. ENJOY IT!
It only happens in Ireland once year, and who knows where on the globe you will be next July, so make every grueling step count, and remember, it’s not a race, just another journey.