How I Barely Trained and Still Conquered The Tough Mudder

Joseph Meyer
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Training for Tough Mudder

Training for Tough Mudder was challenging. I didn’t do any official training but I did a ton of walking and stair climbing. Instead of buying expensive gym equipment to train on, I just took walks around my neighbourhood.

I would walk around 5km each time and I did that 3 to 4 times a week. The stairs were a bit trickier. I couldn’t do much with them on my own since I rarely visited apartment buildings. I tried to do stair climbing on the handy stairs in buses and MRT stations. While that worked, I found the risk of getting caught too high.

But one time, there was an incident at the Jurong East MRT station where it was closed down due to an explosion and I was stuck at the station for a few hours. I decided to get off the train and used that time to climb all the steps to the top. At the time, I didn’t think that I would be training for a marathon in the future and the risk of getting caught was acceptable to me. When I do this again, I’ll just be sure to stick to the stairs at night.

What to Wear for Tough Mudder:

First, unless you have a wet suit, don’t wear anything more than a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. Contrary to popular belief, cotton is not a good material for running, not as long as you run the Tough Mudder way, anyway. It is generally thought to be a bad choice because it absorbs water and gets heavy.

So what kind of clothes should you wear?

My first piece of advice is not to wear clothing that is too tight or restrictive. You’ll want to allow as much movement as possible during the run or you’ll be thinking about the limitation, not beating the obstacles.

Second, I advise you to wear old sneakers; give your new ones a rest. You’ll be using your sneakers a lot and the last thing you want is to damage them during your Tough Mudder training as well as the race itself. But if you don’t own an old pair of sneakers, don’t worry. You’ll cover 10 miles during the race and your feet won’t be the only things feeling the pain.

Here is a list of items you’ll need:

  • Warm underwear
  • Light outer layer shirt

Best Shoes for Tough Mudder:

I somehow convinced Amanda and her schedule-loving self to let me barely train before we conquered a Tough Mudder last April. I tried to train, but I think running nonstop for a half marathon on a treadmill for one month was enough to make her love treadmills forever. I did not lie when I told her I wouldn’t pull too much leg, but I did anyway. There was a time where she ran two days in a row with me just to keep up with me. We started our journey in Tough Mudder on a Friday, so it was also a week before I started my new job as a teacher. So while I would show up in my uniform and with my goofy smile, I would only manage to give her a couple days of training before she asked me to slow it down. I was glad she was there with me. Sometimes she would take a walk away from the crowd, join a group, and run along with young 15-year-olds for a while. They were pretty impressed that an old t 34 would show up with her, so they held on to her with their long legs, so happy to have been a part of this adventure.

Best Gloves for Tough Mudder:

(For every Tough Mudder there is someone that literally will have zero training, zero guidance, and overachieve.)

I already told you about training but I didn’t train much, because I had a sneaky idea to do the course backwards.

I decided to do the last 12 miles of the course running backwards as fast as I could and rested in between obstacles by just sitting down. This was a no-brainer because the last mile or so was a water obstacle course, and you take a lot of time to run in it because you have to wade through the waist-deep water.

Also, I wanted to have plenty of time at the end for the big, final mud pit just before the finish line. This is because I wanted to be as dirty as possible when I crossed the finish line. I know it’s not a common thought, but I wanted to cross the finish line looking like a swamp monster. It turns out I have some great pictures from the finish. Also, the finish line mud was pretty deep, and it’s not a big mud pit so I got really immersed in the mud.

Tough Mudder Obstacles

There was only one other guy in my wave of “Runners”, so we exited the tube together. We ran single file through the forest, until we reached the obstacle ahead, “Kiss of Mud.” It was a vertical wall of mud that was probably close to 30 feet, and we both knew that the only way to conquer this obstacle was to run up it. So that’s what we did.

I’ve never been good at climbing on vertical 2D walls, so I was skeptical that I was going to be able to do this. Scott went first, and did a great job getting about half way up, but couldn’t seem to get past a certain point. Then he gassed it all the way back down and encouraged me to give it a try. I started climbing, and it was difficult, but I made it about a third of the way up the wall before I started to slow down. I considered going around to the other side, but I remembered that I had two teammates a few hundred feet down the trail. So I decided to keep going, and give it my all.

The Ultimate Trophy – The Orange Headband

Tough Mudder is an extreme endurance challenge designed to test your all-around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie. It’s been called the “World’s Toughest Mud Run.” It consists of a military-style obstacle course that includes walls, hills, fire, ice, electric shocks, barbed wire, tunnels, and the signature obstacle “The Drowning Pit”.

A Tough Mudder event consists of up to 20 miles of running, biking, and/or swimming with almost a dozen obstacles placed along the way. The final event is called “The Final Tough Mudder”, which consists of a half mile underground tunnel covered in ice. This is followed by fifteen more electrified obstacles and the most daunting of them all, the Drowning Pit.

The Tough Mudder requires outstanding physical stamina and mental endurance. The training regimen is straightforward and relatively easy compared to the challenge itself. In fact, many people who have completed a Tough Mudder event did not have a rigorous training schedule at all. However, if you have a competitive spirit, some training is better than no training at all.

This might not be the most athletic training regimen in the world, but it’s what worked for me.

Are you tough enough?

Gone are the days of running the annual Turkey Trot to stay in shape. No, the Tough Mudder is not for the faint of heart. Indeed, the obstacles epitomize self-confidence and grit.

Tough Mudder is a 10 mile obstacle race held in cities across North America and Europe. A Tough Mudder event can take anywhere from six to 10 hours or more (depending on your pace) to complete. Participants can select the course to suit their level of difficulty and endurance. There are currently 25 obstacles, with more on the way! The recommended course is the Trifecta, consisting of one lap of 10 miles with 15 total obstacles.

The purpose of the Trifecta is to take each participant out of their comfort zones. Aside from teamwork and exercise, Tough Mudder encourages participants to pause and appreciate the moment. After all, the Tough Mudder isn’t just about reaching the finish line, but about the journey.

For the casual runner looking to take on a bigger challenge, they can choose from other minor obstacles. The Mud Mile is a one mile course containing four obstacles, while the 5K has three obstacles in their courses. Aside from the races, Tough Mudder also offers Mudder Boot Camp, an obstacle-style workout, and their X-Team, which focuses on running Tough Mudder events.