Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Lazy Person's Guide to Tough Mudder

Hi everyone,

On Saturday 16th of August I completed the Tough Mudder obstacle course with my amazing team consisting of Phil, Jason, Carmel & Justin.

Leading up to the day, I was quite anxious for a number of reasons. Firstly, I have pretty terrible endurance and I didn't train enough. Every online guide I read suggested I need to train for 20 weeks and do 3-5miles per week plus 10miles per week plus blah blah exercise. Well, I was lucky if I did the odd 3-5km run once a week and the occasional group exercise.

Secondly, my arms are quite weak. Yeah, I know I had time to make them stronger - but I didn't. Instead, I spent my time eating treats and watching Seinfeld while I could have been doing chin ups.

Thirdly, I am in general quite lazy and find it difficult to get into a consistent habit. Ok maybe I lie, I am kind of 'fit' and do work out - but not consistently. And everyone knows that consistency is the key to any real fitness results.

The Tough Mudder Challenge: We arrived hyped up on coffee to the Tough Mudder Village, ready to take on the world. As we arrived, we were graced with rain, wind and ankle deep mud (goodbye clean shoes). We dropped our belongings off, gulped our pre-workout, widdled out the nerves and waited in the big crowd at the 'start' line.

Team Whitewalkers: Clean and pumped for the challenge!

As we anxiously waited in the rain to get started, the announcer kept leading us on with continuous false promises of 'you'll be starting in 30 seconds' - but, finally we were off! As we ran, we ended up at another 'start' line! It reminded me of this.

After taking the Tough Mudder pledge and jumping around for what seemed like an eternity - we were officially running on the course. Before we had even passed the 30 second mark, a guy elbowed me in the eye as we ran up a mud hill. 15 seconds later my (so-called) caring husband whacked me on my forehead with his watch causing an immediate large bump and cut (thanks babe). So, it didn't take long for little old me to get hurt.

Surprisingly, I found the running not too difficult on the mud. It was pretty cruisy - however, I did walk sometimes in between to catch my breath.

The first obstacle wasn't too bad, I think it was Kiss of Mud. I am quite small, so it was really a breeze.

Arctic Enema was far less horrifying than I imagined. However, the moment I bobbed my head out of the water I was scrambling like a wild woman to find something to grab onto to get out. I had lost mobility in my legs and felt like I was just frozen in place. I did manage to pull myself out and once I was fully out of the water thats when the pain began. It literally felt like I was being stabbed by 100 tiny knives all at once and I felt this urge to run really fast to warm my body up. I ran about 100m and immediately felt relief after doing that. So, all in all, its not too bad (not as bad as you can imagine in your head, anyway). Just do it quickly.

I was unable to do Leap of Faith. I tried, but I just didn't jump far enough to grab the rope. Even if I did grab the rope, though, unless I was able to hook a leg in, it would have been quite difficult to get myself up. You really need decent agility and arm strength for this one. Same with Hangin' Tough, I simply did not have the arm strength for this, I just fell down the moment I tried. Apparently only 30% of people make it through this one. Our champion teammate Jason on the other hand had no problems breezing through all of these challenges, he made it all look so effortless!

Mud Mile, Log Jammin and Sewrage Outlet were all quite straightforward for those with basic levels of fitness.

For those with a fear of heights like me, Walk the Plank was quite terrifying! When I looked down from the plank and saw how far the water was, I nearly shit myself. But, I just didn't give myself the chance to overthink, I just went for it...and I survived! I must have looked so scared, though - because one of the Tough Mudder guys swam up to me quickly asking if I was ok and knew how to swim.

The two wall climb obstacles were not too bad as we had major muscles available to help us over. Without the boys, I am not sure how I would have made Berlin Wall. However, I am sure some young strapping chaps would help out ladies like myself in need.

Much to my surprise, I couldn't make Everest. I tried several times and it was so close to the end, after I hit my hip falling down and saw a girl smash her nose, I didn't care for this obstacle anymore and walked off. I really thought I would make it...but maybe I jumped too early or didn't run fast enough...I don't know.

Electroshock Therapy is the last obstacle you face before the finish line. So by this point you just don't care anymore and want it all to end. We didn't really think, we just ran. Some of us were harder hit by the shock than others. I only had one shock on my leg - I cannot imagine the sensation had the shock happened on my facial regions!!

At the end they give you your head band and offer you beer. I'm sorry, but the LAST thing I want after doing an event like this is BEER. I want a coffee - a blanket - a Sidney Sheldon novel.

All in all, it was a pretty amazing experience and even better doing it with a supportive team. I couldn't imagine doing it alone. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun challenge!

Not so white by the end of it...


1. Wear GOOD TRAIL shoes

The day before the event, I bought Adidas Kanadia 5 TR Women's Trail Running Shoes from SportsCo. I know all the guides say not to buy new shoes before the event and to use shoes you're used to - but the problem was that my normal shoes were pretty crap. I KNEW I would be in pain with the god awful Rubi running shoes I had. These ones were simply amazing. They gripped to mud like a leech to skin and provided exceptional support to my aching shin. 

2. Do SOME sort of training before hand

I am the worst person for suggesting this, as my training was unplanned, extremely sporadic and not very intense. But, try and have some sort of plan. If you have weak arms like me, 20 weeks out from the event you should be training them to get stronger (if you want to be able to do obstacles like Funky Monkey/Hangin' Tough etc). Focus on doing all body conditioning to strengthen your legs/core/arms as you will be using everything on the day. For me, I had no problems with obstacles requiring leg strength/general strength, but really fell short on arm strength obstacles. If I did TM again, then this would be my exercise focus. Endurance is a big element of the day, if you do plan to run. Many people walk, which would make it much easier. Try to run 5-6 weeks before the event 5kms twice a week or so at least. All these guides saying you need to do a bajillion miles a week is hogwash, the running isn't that taxing since its broken up with all the obstacles. There are all sorts of training guides on Youtube and the Tough Mudder website if you want something structured.

3. Have a great pre-workout

I had the Bulk Nutrients Nitric X Pre-workout in Pineapple/Orange. This definitely boosted my energy. I did, however, have WAY over the recommended amount. It suggests a max of 1 scoop...I put about 4-5 scoops in my water bottle, LOL!

4. Pay the extra for PREMIUM parking

Once you have been through the gruelling tough mudder course, the LAST thing you want to do is drag your weary cold ass back to your car which is a million miles away. Park your car at premium parking (which is about $25 more than regular parking) and you will only have to walk 150m. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

5. Wear a fanny pack (to fit jellybeans and nurofen)

I have waited my whole life to be able to legitimately write 'fanny pack' somewhere. Carmel lent me her pack to use and it was so useful. I managed to fit 3 energy gels, a small jellybean pack and 12 nurofen. All of these things managed to survive through endless mud and water.

6. Do NOT wear cotton or loose clothes

Try and stay away from cotton as best you can as it soaks up water and mud, which will only drag you down. I opted for drift wherever possible. That said, you're encouraged to dress up in a really is up to you. Just ensure to bring towels/warm clothes with you for the end, so that you can relax. They claim that there is a post-event party after - but seriously, f*** that. The moment you're out you will want to run to the car, warm up and get the hell out of there to a Maccas drive through for chips.

7. Do it with FRIENDS

Do it with people who will laugh when you fall, give you hand when you need it and won't want to race till the end. The whole event is so much more enjoyable with people!

7. Try not to stress out and just have fun

It isn't really a super difficult activity when you're there. Yes, it is exhausting and you feel like a 90 year old grandma days after - but during the event it's quite fun. I really did psych myself out a bit before the event and was worried I wasn't fit enough. But when I was there, I felt no pressure to do every course to perfection and there was a strong sense of camaraderie every step of the way.

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