A number of months ago, I agreed to put together a team to run Tough Mudder (TM) in London. It would be my first TM event but my second obstacle course run. I’m never really keen to put events in my diary too far away because as this proved (once again) when the day comes you just might not be feeling it.
I returned from my trip to Barbados just 4 days before race day and I was struggling with getting back into my routine and into the swing of London time again. I decided not to think about the event until I landed back on British soil and once I did start thinking about it I only seemed to want to talk myself out of taking part.
On race morning, I literally decided not to go then gave myself a talking to, pulled on some kit, packed a bag and made my way to meet my team mates …they literally made this day for me.
In my last minute preparation I read a couple of blog posts about what kit to take and checked out the official TM page to ensure I took along everything that I needed on the day. I didn’t have time to read anyone’s race reports or to find out the minute details of each and every obstacle we would be taking on.
And honestly, to save the universe from yet another start to finish recap of what went down I thought I’d just share with you the important details, maybe even the things I wish I’d known before or was very glad to have known in advance and of course if there’s something I just have to share about (erm, like Michael and Tash trying to convince me to do the full distance the whole time! Lol) then I will.
So here goes…
Choose The Right Distance
TM recently introduced the Half (5 miles) distance which we completed this time round. I chose this distance as it was one I felt I could comfortably complete with no specific training and I think that’s a key point. However, you can rest assured that the event is not a race; we literally had to take a pledge on the start line in which they reminded us that TM is a challenge not a race.
Just remember that the real challenge often comes from the obstacles rather than the distance. Overall, my Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR clocked that we ran just under 10km which prob around 6.5 miles in total. Apparently the course is never dead on the distance it’s billed as but who’s counting anyway?!
Do Your Prep (Training)
I can’t exactly speak from experience on this one but I can speak from a place of being a fitness professional. I know there are a ton of training programmes and workouts on the internet which say they are to get you ready for these obstacle course events but I think they could possibly be a load of crap.
My tips would be to focus on body weight exercises with a dash of cardio (intermittent stuff like playing football would transfer fitness sooooo well) and then get some practice in lifting some heavy sh*t. Lol. And that’s that. There’s a huge upper body focus on many of the obstacles and that’s prob where us ladies fall below par, eh?! Luckily though, camaraderie is so high that no one will let you struggle by yourself!
When it came to climbing the two massive walls I was prepared to skip those as all I could see in my mind was me falling all the way from the top after Sophie had told me about her experience at another obstacle course race previously. I screamed out loud (accidentally) when I saw it and when I blinked everyone was there to help me get up, over and down the other side. I did both walls. I’m proud.
Pack Your Kit Bag Like A Boss
I was lucky enough to have made some good decisions when it came to kit. So I’d like to pass along those tips for sure…
- Long sleeves: wear long sleeves. Do it. It was a pretty warm day for our event but still I wore long sleeves. They kinda protect your arms a little from extra scrapes or splinters.
- 3/4 length tights: similar reasoning to wearing long sleeves tbh. My knees still suffered a little bit but at least they still have all the layers of skin. I’d suggest you choose a material that is made for sweating too as that will help reduce the amount of mud / water that they retain over the duration of the course and will mean they’ll dry a fair bit faster.
- No cotton: carrying on my point from the trousers, cotton will just soak up water / sweat / mud and get heavier. Trust me, it’s bad enough that your shoes will get sooo heavy, you don’t want your clothes to be hanging off you adding more weight to the situation.
- Trail shoes: this one can go both ways really. I saw some people on the course with their TM branded Merrell trail shoes which looked lightweight with awesome grip. I don’t own a pair of trail shoes so I used a pair of Brooks that I used the one and only time I’ve ever been trail running. They were already muddy so it wasn’t completely the end of the world when I saw the state of them at the end of the race. TM do take your muddy shoes after the race if you want to donate them to charity (they wash and clean them of course).
- Taller running socks: these might help to prevent stones getting in. I mean they won’t stop stones getting between your sock and shoe but if something could possibly help then why not do it?!
- Tie away loose hair: there was a point where I thought I might leave a large proportion of my Afro puff attached to the barbwire that I crawled under.
- Beach towel: helps you to keep some dignity should you end up changing in your car.
- Regular style bra with clasp at back: again useful as it’s easy to take off / put on under a towel.
- Something warm and cosy for post race. Once you get some of the mud off it’s nice to feel comfortable for your journey home.
- Wet wipes to help get the mud off. But take note that the only thing that will get all the mud off is an actual shower at home.
- Bin bags to store all your mud sodden kit on your way home
- Snacks / meal: they do sell food in the TM village but as ever, it’s ridiculously expensive.
- Cash: if you take your bag into the race village you have to pay for the bag drop. Yup, I know. So either leave your bag in the car or take cash.
…and last but not least, don’t wear or take anything on the course that you’re not prepared to lose!
Don’t Go It Alone
Although everyone is super friendly and helpful on the course it’s still more fun to do the event with friends. Having people who (hopefully) won’t drop you, people to take pictures with before the start, along the course and at the finish makes it that bit much more fun. It’s also great to have that shared experience to look back on forever and ever (because that is prob how long I will talk about this for).
Smile For The Cameras
If I was gonna go a Tough Mudder then I needed to get pictures to document it. I borrowed a chest strap for my GoPro from Michael and captured some time lapse footage but that only turned out to be about 3 seconds long!
I did manage to get a few decent photos from it though. So at every obstacle I made sure I had a big smile ready for the cameras so I’d have some fab images to use in this post and keep as memories. Your pictures are completely free which is a bonus… but you will have to do some wading through to find them. If you can somehow, record the times that you reach the obstacles and that should help you to find your photos a little faster.
A huge shout out again to my team mates Tash and Michael and to every other mudder out there who gave me a helping hand! It was massively appreciated! …shout out also to For Goodness Shakes for being the ones to finally persuade me to get tough in the mud and fuelling up us to the start line. As pictured below, Michael braved wearing his FGS tee shirt during the race… I saved mine for post race (that warm and comfy outfit I just told you about).
Should the opportunity come up to do a Tough Mudder again… I think I would jump at the chance!
Have you gotten your Tough Mudder headband (they don’t do medals)?! …what’s stopped you from taking part before?!