What a Mudder…

arriving at the Tough Mudder

Arriving at the Mudder.

What a Mudder…

So, Paul and I did our first Tough Mudder last Saturday.  We have done obstacle races before, but never a real Tough Mudder so it was pretty exciting.  I know some of you are thinking of trying one, so here is my review and I will give you sneak peak at how we trained for it.

When we arrived at the remote parking area, we had no idea what to expect, well other than that that at some point during the next 4 hours we would be zapped by 10,000 volts of electricity, plunged into an ice bath and covered head to toe in mud while running somewhere between 10-12 miles (our course was just over 11-miles as it turned out).

At the venue, you could see the ski hills climbing up, up, up. The slopes were flanked by outstanding autumn colours and a gorgeous blue sky to top it off.  The day was perfect!

My mind was on the Boa Constrictor – a PVC tube that you have to crawl through as it goes down into water (not over your head) and then you have to crawl back up the other side – Walk The Plank – a 15+ foot drop into cold water and of course the Electric Shock Therapy – that’s the 10,000 volts I referred to earlier.

At the start we got one hell of a pep talk from the MC, sang O Canada, took our pledge to help fellow Mudders complete the course…and then we were off – straight up to the top of the ski hill.

After 2:40, 11+ miles and 24 obstacles we arrived at the last challenge – Electric Shock Therapy.  Over the course of the run I had convinced myself that the electric shocks could not be THAT bad.  “They probably just build it up to mess with you” I told myself.  “It will just feel like pinches” I was convinced.

We hit the wires at speed, as I got 2, 3, 4 strides in – nothing!  Piece of cake! And then…ZZZZAAAPPPPP – straight to my left glute – holy $H!t – my entire hip buckled and for a second I thought I was going right down to my knees.  Probably 10 times worse than I thought it would be.

Well that gave me a little extra spring in my step so I kept motoring through the mud, over the berms all the while – ZAP – ZAP –ZAP – all to my left glute staggering me each time, but I managed to keep my feet under me, which not everyone did.

On the other side of the obstacle Paul and I just looked at each other with the widest eyes – like HOLY CRAP!  Then we charged the finish line for our coveted orange headband – yep, that is what you get, an orange headband.  No medal, no dog tags, an orange headband.

It was an awesome event and I highly recommend it.  In some ways it is easier than running a marathon because in the marathon you always have the clock fighting you and there is no choice but to keep running.

In the Mudder they stress that it is NOT a race, time does not matter.  You will need to help others and others will need to help you, which feels great.  They also make it clear that there is no shame in going around an obstacle if you need to.

Paul and I did all of the obstacles – I need to do more pull ups before the next one because I could not make it over the Funky Monkey – hand over hand monkey bars that go up hill first and then downhill.  I made it about 2/3rds of the way up the slope before running out of momentum and dropping into the 4 feet of cold water below.

On the up side, there was a frog who had hopped into the pool as well (or maybe he was doing the Mudder) so I had the chance to rescue the froggie as I climbed out.

Tough Mudder Toronto Maria Mountain

There was mud everywhere…I mean EVERYWHERE!

So here are the lessons I learned from Tough Mudder:

  • Most things are not as scary as you think they will be – some of them are actually fun.  Jumping off the 15-foot platform was scary for me, but I knew it would not get LESS scary by standing there worrying about it.  Splashing into the water after the jump was actually pretty fun.
  • Some things are worse than you think they will be.  The electric shock was much worse than I thought, but not fatal and it felt great to get through to the other side.
  • You cannot expect to get over every obstacle yourself – ask for help when you need it and be prepared to help others when they need it.
  • Your best option is to keep going.  It is okay to be tired, sore and muddy – your best option is to keep going, something good is waiting at the finish line.  In this case an orange headband, cold beer and a place to hose off.
  • Never let fear of the unknown stop you from doing something that you want to try.

My advice to you…

If you have thought you would like to do a Tough Mudder – DO IT!  If your knees, hips, ankles are shot – might not be such a good idea.  There is a lot of downhill running that will rattle your eyeballs loose.

How we trained…

If you decide to do one – train for it!  Here is how we trained for it…

Monday – MetaStrength Circuit with push ups, planks, rows, bear crawls, sprints, etc done as a circuit.

Wednesday – Hill Sprints (up a hill that takes about 50-seconds to run up) building up to 6 repeats or a Tempo Run – fast shorter distance run of 3-6 miles.  We alternated between the two.

Saturday – Long Run – building up to 12-miles.

We trained for about 10-weeks.  We should have done more pull-ups in hindsight.  Paul made it across the Funky Monkey fine, but my attempt turned into a frog rescue mission.

Hey gang – when in doubt – go for it!

PS – if you have done one, share your story below – what is your best piece of advice?  If you are not sure whether or not to do one, let me know what is holding you back in the comments section below.