Last Saturday I did my first Tough Mudder, in Houston….and it was tough. But if you are an avid CrossFitter, it’s not so bad. Brent, a great guy from my gym, was kind enough to invite me to join his team. And a team is the best way to go for the Tough Mudder. It’s all about team work. They even have a pledge to put your fellow mudders above your time. Here are a few notes on preparation, what to wear, what to bring, and the course in general.
The Houston Tough Mudder was about 10.5 miles long and flat as a pancake. I was a bit worried about the distance since most of my training runs have been at 3 miles or less. No reason to worry. There isn’t that much distance between obstacles and by the half-way point, most people seemed to be walking. We ran, wet and mud crusted, between all obstacles. If you can run 3 or 4 miles at a good, quick pace, don’t worry about prepping for the run portion.
Grip is where you can help yourself with preparation. If you are lucky enough to sign up a couple of months early, start working on your grip. If you are a CrossFitter, you should be doing that anyway. The best way I have found to work on the grip is hang. Hang from the pull-up bar. Hang, Hang, Hang. Farmer’s carries also help, quite a bit.
Pre-race prep should be devoted to a good warm up, both for the run, and the upper body. Most of the upper body work will be pulling. You will be pulling yourself up and over wall, bales and muddy slopes. You will also be pulling people up from the top of those obstacles. So stretch and warm up accordingly. Also, stretch between obstacles when you are stopped for shoe adjustment, which is frequent. When stopped along the course, don’t just stand there or you will start to get cold and stiff. Stretch.
What to wear is a big questions for first time mudders. The right shoes are very important. I wore my oldest pair for New Balance Minimus. I used speed laces and tied a bow on top (see pic). This worked great and I didn’t lose a shoe or have to stop for adjustment once. Socks or no socks? All five of us on the team opted to wear socks. I wore the thinest, short socks I had. No problem. A couple of the guys wore compression socks and again, no problems.
Shorts and shirt: Regular nylon gym shorts will work fine. I strongly suggest shorts with a good liner. Any dry-fit shirt will work fine. I spent a small fortune the night before the race on a compression shirt. It was wasted money. Plus I spent most of the evening and the morning before the race trying to gage how much of an A-hole I looked like as a 54 year old in the worlds tightest shirt.
Final word on what to wear; NO COTTON and tight shoes.
What to bring: The first thing we needed was money. You have to pay for parking. I think it was $10 but it could have been $15. Then they get you for another $10 bucks at the bag drop. So bring a handful of $5’s and $10’s. Two towels and a change of clothes, to include shoes. There is a good rinse station and changing area for after the race.
The best thing to know about the course is it’s fun! The obstacles are great and everyone is helping each other. There is plenty of assistance and supervision and the medical people are always close by. There are “walk arounds” for all obstacles, so if you are doubtful you can opt out and save yourself for the next challenge.
The Tough Mudder is a super-fun challenge best shared with friends. Special thanks to Adam, Henry, Mike and Brent for keeping pace for the Old Guy and lending those helping hands! No reason to hesitate for this event. Sign up, get out there and have fun!!