Top 10: Lessons Learned During a Tough Mudder

Muddy Hand Tough Mudder

You’ve registered for a Tough Mudder. You’ve trained hard, bought your Tough Mudder gear  and are mentally prepared for the event. But no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, and there are some lessons you will learn during a Tough Mudder that you can only learn by doing a Tough Mudder…or by reading this article. I’ve summoned my experience and that of some Mudders on Google + for the top 10 lessons learned during a Tough Mudder. You’re welcome.

Number 10: There is Fierce Competition…For The Silliest Costume

Tough Mudder Costume

A Tough Mudder is not a race, and you will be told that multiple times by race officials at the starting line,  but when you arrive at a Tough Mudder, you will quickly realize that true competitors bring spandex and feather boas. If you really want to compete, better bring your “A” game (i.e. go full drag).

Number 9: You Are Going to Get Shocked, and No Amount of Slithering or Crawling is Going to Help

You registered for a Tough Mudder, and if you’ve read anything about it, you know that at least two obstacles (Electroshock Therapy and Electric Eel) involve little bursts of electricity.

You may think that you can avoid getting shocked if you get really low to the ground, but the TM Obstacle team has carefully considered how to punish slitherers in their designs. Tim put it best on Google + “The electro shock is to be completed quickly, no laying around”

You are wondering whether it hurts?  The answer is is yes. 10,000 volts of hurt. Get in, get out.

Number 8: You Will Enter Some Obstacles Running and Leave Them Crawling


You may charge into in an obstacle with your friends, jacked with testosterone, feeling supremely confident. You may leave the same obstacle wallowing in the mud, whimpering and crawling your way to the exit like a little girl.

But crawling won’t help anyway (see Number 9).

Number 7: Prepare to Hurry Up and Wait

Bread Line

Whether it be the traffic on your way to the venue, the long walk to the registration tent or the queue that forms at certain obstacles (Everest, for example) you should expect to wait.

Also remember that some of the delays will be related to helping out other Mudders. Don’t shirk this responsibility!

Number 6: Nothing Can Really Prepare You For Ice Cold Water

After Arctic Enema
I’m the guy in blue

Really nothing.

Number 5: There are Occasions When You Will Need Help

Tough Mudder Carry

There are at least a few occasions when you will need your buddies or friendly strangers (there are A LOT of those, so don’t worry), likely on the Berlin Walls and  Everest obstacles.

These obstacles can be done alone by the super-fit or super-human, but the mortals among us need a hand. Make sure to take advantage, particularly if you are tired.

Number 4: There Are Some Occasions Where Help Can Be Unhelpful

Tough Mudder Everest Obstacle
Don’t be the guy dangling by his legs

Ever ask for directions and politely get instructed to go completely the wrong way? Some help is helpful, some help is unhelpful, and some is downright dangerous. This is particularly true when you are tackling the Everest obstacle, as the gang on the top of the obstacle has varying skill levels when it comes to hoisting fellow Mudders. What you want is to be helped to the point where you can help yourself. What you don’t want is buddy grabbing your leg so that you are dangling utterly helpless over the quarter pipe while  the crowd cheers on your rescuers, like they are air-lifting some sort of rare whale.

Number 3: There is No Need to Bathe in Mud at the First Site of a Mud Puddle

Muddy Tough Mudder

Don’t be that guy or girl that bathes themselves in mud at the first sign of a mud puddle. There is really no need. You’ll find that a TM course has more than enough mud to go around. There will be so much mud on the course that the novelty will wear off fast.

Number 2: It is a 12 Mile Run (With a Few Obstacles)

Muddy Hand Tough Mudder
You should have gone running muscle beach

People always talk about the best way to train for a Tough Mudder, and while there are a lot of benefits to hitting the gym or TRX-type workouts, you need to remember that the main activity is running. Other Mudders can help you with obstacles, but no one can loan you their cardio.

Loren on Google+ put it best: “Everybody always asks what they can do to train for the TM, what weighted exercises they should focus on, etc. and the only real answer is to run”

 Number 1: Good Gear Makes a Difference

Tough Mudder Muddy Gear

Protect your feet and wear tough cool clothes that dry quickly. Get good quick drying socks, quality running or trail shoes and quick-drying shorts and shirts (no cotton).I recommend that you check out my article on Tough Mudder Gear to get an idea of what you will need.

Sean from Google + is also bullish on protecting your dogs with good shoes: “Just because its mud doesn’t mean there aren’t rocks in there”.

Just make sure that your shoes are broken in before the race, and don’t worry, you’ll be able to wash the mud off everything.



  1. If you want to focus on any particular muscle group, I would focus on the torso muscles. Abs/obliques/chest/back. Pretty much all obstacles incorporate these muscles. Don’t spend too much on the arms/legs – the extra weight will just slow you down.