On Saturday (April 28th) I shared the pleasure with a few thousand other people of participating in a Tough Mudder. The whole experience was great. The atmosphere before, during and after the race was one of triumph and comraderie. The course was tough, but not that tough. Anyone who is in relatively good physical condition should be able to complete the course, it just may take up to 4 hours. The obstacles ranged from minor hassles like the “Devil’s Beard’ (crawling under heavy netting) to significant exertions like ‘Hold Your Wood’ (carrying a 30lb log about a 1/4 mile). We also had to run through a web of electrified wires (yes they shocked the hell out of you, and yes they hurt), crawl under barbed wire (yeah, the real stuff, and yeah it hurt) and jump off a 15ft platform into freezing cold water (it was about 30 degrees on the eve of the race and about 45 at my start time, so yeah it was cold). But in the end what’s really important is that it was fun, and fun it was.
I would remiss if I spoke of the Tough Mudder without shedding some light on how to dress for the occasion; after all, this is a blog about men’s style… I would like share my top 10 tips for preparing for and participating in a Tough Mudder in hopes that they will help some of you, if you are to one day participate in one. Although these tips are geared towards those who want to race the course and are from running the Pocono Manor course (which is the course I ran), they are equally applicable to those who just want to complete the course.
1. Mental fortitude is crucial. You need to have the will and ability to last through warmth, cold, pain, elation and exhaustion.
2. The best possible legwear is long spandex. Not only will less debris and mud get stuck to you (which will weigh you down and be uncomfortable) but they also help protect your knees and legs from minor scratches from crawling and running through brush.
3. When training it is best to emulate race conditions. When you run, make sure you stop every mile to half mile to take a break or do other exercises. This will imitate the time you stop running to complete the obstacles.
4. Run as many steep hills and through woods/brush as possible when training. The ‘Death March’ and other long and steep hills are not easy, whether in the first or second half of the race. Furthermore, running through uneven terrain and dodging brush and trees is what your doing most of the course.
5. Wear proper running socks, not your normal cotton socks. Running socks are typically made of some blend of cotton and synthetics.
6. If at all possible go shirtless. It will cut down on weight but I found that running shirtless will help keep you warmer, as you will not be wearing an article of clothing that has been soaked with freezing cold water. Shirtless is also more badass.
7. Being in proper running shape is more important than being in shape for the obstacles (which involves more upper body strength).
8. Wear footwear that you are used to. Do not use unfamiliar footwear on race day.
9. Do not use the provided course map on the Tough Mudder website as an absolute guide to your course. My course was 1.5 miles longer and the obstacle layout was different than that of the map on the website.
10. Wear gloves, preferably fingerless ones. They are great for all obstacles except the monkey bars and the rings (if you have them on your course).
11. Have fun.
Or you could just dress like these gents…
For those of you who are feeling exceptionally aggressive there is The World’s Toughest Mudder, which is a race in which participants will race to complete a Tough Mudder course in as many times as possible in 24 hours. I hope to qualify, they say they take the top 5% of times, however, I think it is actually quite less stringent than that. I am hoping that my time of 1:59 should be adequate (I will update this one I hear back). But like I said, the most important thing is to have fun. Don’t be intimidated by all the hype, just train and execute.