If you are looking for a physical and mental challenge, and need something a bit more interesting and certainly more whimsical than putting one foot in front of another in a road race, a Tough Mudder might be right for you.
A full Tough Mudder (there are half Tough Mudders now) is certainly one of the more challenging mud races with a 10-12 mile run and 20 + obstacles. There are no podiums or medals, and completion requires fitness, mental toughness, and team work. A Tough mudder is in the end, about working together, pushing your own boundaries, and more than a little silliness…silliness that falls somewhere between Mardi Gras and Halloween.
While the official event site takes a pretty low key approach to required race day gear , we know that you’ve invested a lot of training time getting ready for this event and are probably open to spending a few bucks to make sure you are as comfortable as you can be. The truth is that training will be the deciding factor on race day, and you will be uncomfortable, but if you aren’t one to gloss over the details, here are some recommendations for the Tough Mudder gear that might mitigate some of the misery.
You’ll soon notice that our advice is often a lot like that of Lt. Dan’s from Forest Gump:( 1) Don’t do anything stupid 2) Take care of your feet). So let’s start off with the feet, an area where we believe that you shouldn’t skimp on price when doing any endurance sport.
While the socks we recommend aren’t standard Army issue, we are down with Lt. Dan’s premise that dry feet are happy feet, and that is why you need comfortable, chafe-resistant, quick-drying, moisture-wicking socks. There are a lot of options out there, but we like Wigwam Trail Trax Pro. These socks are snug, with super fast drying/moisture management capabilities and a nice cushy underfoot to minimize the impact of rough surfaces. They also have some anti-stink capabilities we don’t fully understand, but were apparently good enough to register at trademark against (Freshguard®).
Compression socks are very popular amongst Tough Mudders. MudGear makes some highly acclaimed compression socks that also have the added benefit of padding around the calf ,which rom our experience comes in handy, particularly when scaling walls. Compression socks also help circulation and limit fatigue by reducing muscle movement .
The second item on our list is a good trail shoe. Trail shoes differ from most running shoes in that they have a wider toe box to prevent toe-stubbing, a grippy outsole to accommodate roots, rocks and mud, a flexible plate at midsole to protect against sharp and pointy trail obstacles, an abrasion-resistant upper to protect against side impacts and reinforced toe-bumpers to protect your toes. Some trail shoes offer more stability, others are following the minimalist trend, but generally speaking the more experience you have running on trails, the less you need shoes with a lot of stability. Your Tough Mudder shoes are something that you should take some time to decide on. We like the Asics 5 Venture Running Shoe, a great running shoe brand and a critically-acclaimed shoe that provides great protection from rocks with a durable sole and the comfort of rear foot GEL cushioning.
More than once, we’ve had to stop mid-course to take our shoes off and remove little rocks that creep in from running and crawling over all manner of terrain. If you are trying to keep up with your group, this can be a literal pain if you decide to try to ignore the small pebble wedging it’s way in to your heel permanently.
If you want to avoid the drama altogether, best to stop rocks from getting into your shoes in the first place. Salomon’s Low Trail Gaiters work with any trail shoe, simply strapping around the heel and providing flexible, breathable protection as you charge fearlessly to your next obstacle.
Your clothes might not make it through the day without a tear or two so we recommend that you don’t break the bank on a shirt, so long as the shirt is moisture-wicking, snug-fitting and comfortable. Champion tends to make some good shirts at lower prices than other brands, but if you are looking for a bit extra inspiration you can always buy an Under Armour Iron Man Compression Shirt.
Tough, Quick-Dry Shorts
You’ll need Tough Mudder shorts that have an integrated, non-chafing liner, are cool, dry quickly and are made of relatively tough fabric. Basically, running shorts that aren’t going to rip on their first contact with an obstacle. Under Armour has a great pair of shorts that fit the bill in spades, and others who have done Tough Mudder’s with them agree that they are great shorts for obstacle course-type races. A bonus is that they have a built in compression lining.
Padded Arm Sleeves
At a certain point, you will be crawling on your hands and knees to complete and obstacle. In all likelihood, either barbed wire or small electrified cables will be hovering just above you. The most common injuries Tough Mudders face are cuts and abrasions on elbows and knees as they choose the lesser evil below.
Wearing padded arm sleeves is not for everyone, but great for those who want to attack the obstacle course without worrying about the distractions that come from accompanying cuts and bruises should take a look at MudGear Padded Arm Sleeves
Whether or not you need Tough Mudder gloves is a matter of personal preference (some prefer dry hands vs protected ones). You may want to try a Tough Mudder without gloves to see what you prefer. If you go the glove route, choose something breathable, quick-drying and grippy.
A Rugged Sports Watch
A Tough Mudder is not technically a race…the goal is actually just to finish. But if you are someone who likes to measure your progress from race to race, you might want to go with a durable, shock-resistant , waterproof sports watch to keep time. Keep it simple, a Timex Ironman 30 lap watch should do the trick.
At a three plus hour event time (for the more mortal among us), you will need to eat to sustain your energy. Some like gels, some like energy chews (us) other’s like their mother-in-law’s date squares. Whatever you do, have something portable, easy to access and easy to eat (something that isn’t overly dry). Strawberry Gu Chomps are our faves.
Tough Mudders are known not only for their toughness but for how they laugh in the face of the challenges put before them. They do this by dressing like Princesses, Lifeguards or Batman.
Why does this happen? Who knows, but it’s all part of the fun. To show solidarity with your Tough Mudder team, we suggest you choose one theme, because just like the Power Rangers, you are more powerful as a team than as one.
First Aid Kit
We don’t want to be alarmist here, but you will likely get some cuts and bruises, and there is an off-chance of something worse. Even Batman can have a bad day. Tough Mudders are well-organized, with plenty of first aid stations, but if you want to come extra-prepared to heal your team’s battle scars , bring a First Aid Kit
This is the Tough Mudder gear that should get you through race day. Don’t forget dry clothes after the race (we’ll let you choose those!). If you disagree or have some other suggestions, we would love to hear from you in the comments.