My workout routines picked up over the past year, and when I say they picked up, I mean they started. For the first time and in my late 40s, I decided my health needed to become a priority. To help with my fitness routine, I needed a goal. While talking with my oldest son one evening, a goal appeared.
My teenage son and I were talking about races when he brought up that he wanted to do a Tough Mudder. I have wanted to take part in a Tough Mudder for a long time and after his mention; I started perusing the Tough Mudder website to find a race. The only one that fit my son’s schedule was in Central Florida.
With the Tough Mudder on the calendar, I started researching exercises that would help me during the event. My son works out 2 to 3 hours a day, so it was a given he would be ready for the event. My 47 beat-up-year-old body, however, was not. I was already running 3 days a week and so I added strength training to my weekly workouts. The effort paid off during and after the event. My son and I had the best time during the Mudder and loved every second of our time together.
For those that are looking to do their first Tough Mudder, here are my tips for preparation.
- You don’t need to be a perfect physical specimen to participate. While at the event, we saw all shapes and sizes working their way through the obstacles. It helps, though, to have a certain degree of physical fitness. Exercises that can help you prepare are running/jogging, pull-ups, lunges, push-ups, and squats. Adding pull-ups to my strength training routine was key to helping with many obstacles.
- You can skip obstacles. If you can’t swim, don’t jump in the water. The Arctic Enema is an obstacle where you climb up a mud bank and then slide down into freezing cold water. That water hits hard! It’s only about 5 feet deep, but I saw some people struggle after the shock of going under the freezing cold water. And if you’re claustrophobic, you don’t need to crawl through tunnels. You’re supposed to have fun. If there’s something that can trigger an unpleasant moment, then don’t do it.
- Don’t eat a bunch of junk before the race. There are plenty of port-a-potties at the event, but you don’t want to stop during your race. There are few out on the course, so you’ll get stuck in the bushes if you have to go. Eat a good meal the night before and the morning of.
- Bring clean clothes. There’s a place to change after the event and you can check your bag. Have you seen the photos? Do you want that on your car seats? Also, take a towel with you.
- There are water stations throughout the course, so you won’t need to bring a water bottle with you. You should still hydrate yourself with plenty of electrolytes on the day of the race.
- Be open to help. And be ready to help. A big part of participating in a Tough Mudder is the instant community aspect of the event. You’ll need a helping hand. And before you move on to the next obstacle course, help someone behind you. Don’t be the person who flies through the obstacle course helping no one.
- Drink responsibly. A beer company and a liquor company sponsors Tough Mudder. There are plenty of alcoholic beverages floating around. You get one free beer and there are plenty of options to buy drinks. Remember, you just finished running and sweating, so those alcoholic drinks hit harder. If you’re going to have multiple drinks, think about getting a designated driver.
- Know the weather. If it’s sunny, wear sunscreen. If it’s chilly, dress accordingly.
- Bring money for food. At the event my son and I participated in, they gave us one free meal. We were very hungry after the event and purchased a lot of food at the food trucks. A lot. All the places we stopped at accepted credit cards, but it’s a good idea to have cash just in case.
- After parking, look around or snap a photo of your car. The parking lots are usually in large fields and you don’t want to spend a long time searching for your vehicle after the event.
- The Electroshock Therapy obstacle is… shocking. Have a plan for getting through it. I saw a few people get shocked and then lay on the ground looking for ways to get out. I’ll be frank, it hurts. It doesn’t feel good. But it is fun. My son and I both ran through as fast as we could. The shock will stop you. Find your path and fly. Also, cover your face. Getting hit on the arm is much better than a shock to the face.
- Give yourself time and enjoy the day. After you complete the race, kick back with your fellow Mudders and relax in the village.
- Don’t go alone. You can run the obstacles by yourself, but it’s much more fun with someone. And during the Hero Carry obstacle, you’ll need to carry someone and someone will need to carry you.
- Don’t wear new shoes. My son wore his beat-up old tennis shoes, and they worked great for him. I wore old running shoes, and they were fine for me. Your shoes will get wet and muddy and possibly ruined. I tossed my running shoes in the washing machine and they turned out okay. My son’s shoes did not. I was thankful that I had good tread on my shoes for Everest, which is a giant wall where you run up as far as you can and leap.
- Don’t wear cotton shirts. You’ll need moisture-wicking fabric. Running in wet cotton clothes can cause rashes and that’s not friction you want halfway through the race.
- Don’t get yourself worked up before the Mudder. The day before, I had a little anxiety attack. I woke up early in the morning with the fear that I wouldn’t be able to overcome the obstacles and would embarrass my son. I had nothing to worry about and neither should you. People will be there to help you if you need it. And you’ll need help, because everyone needs help.
- Be ready to push yourself. Get into the mindset that you’re going to overcome something big. And then when you do, be proud of what you accomplished.
- Gloves are optional. I saw some people wearing gloves and read reviews from people swearing by them. My son and I didn’t need them. Our hands were fine with climbing and with ropes. Gloves were available to buy in the Tough Mudder store before the race if it’s something you’re concerned about.
- When boosting someone, bend at your knees to save your back. Give them a good base and lift off if they need extra space.
- Have fun. Seriously. Don’t go into the race to finish as fast as possible. Enjoy the obstacles. Laugh with others. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
If you’ve participated in a Tough Mudder, what are your tips?
I hope to see all of you at a future Mudder.
Follow my fitness journey at @RunJasonGreene .