How to Prepare For Tough Mudder so You Don’t Get Hurt.

I’m going to show you how to prepare for Tough Mudder because as I write this, I’ve done it twice. And the tips I’ll give you here will help a lot!

Now parts of this article were written before I did my first Tough Mudder, and I will update certain sections to explain if the original preparations I made really helped and if they didn’t, I’ll explain what did and what you should do.

So before I did this event, I had a checklist of mud runs I still had to finish. I have crossed of the Spartan Race (3) and a few others, but the big one I have yet to do is Tough Mudder. And on October 8th, it is going to be done:

how to prepare for tough mudder

So for anyone who is also preparing to do their first Tough Mudder, I have a great preparation guide. Now I’ve already written one specifically for the Spartan Race and I’ve also written a general one for most mud runs people will do and frankly, about 90% of the preparation is the same for Tough Mudder.

However, being that the obstacles in this one are a bit different, I have made this separate one. First let’s get the obvious workouts out of the way that you absolutely need:

Read this list of preparations I’ve written up for the advanced Spartan Race. By distance and difficulty, they are very close and just about the same workouts in terms of strength and endurance are necessary for Tough Mudder as well.

And being that with each new mud run I’ve done, I’ve learned more and more, it is helped me tremendously prepare for the next one and with Tough Mudder, it’s definitely going to be the most difficult one yet and I’m hoping it will be, because after doing Super, which was very tough, I still had a craving to take on something more difficult.

So here is how I prepared for this race (and if it worked):

I had less than 2 months to get ready when I purchased my ticket to Tough Mudder and the good news is that I already actively did the 2 most necessary workout styles needed for the hardest mud runs: Strength exercises and cardio for mud runs.

With cardio, I was prepared, but because this race is over 10 miles long so long lasting endurance is a must. While my cardio workouts are more short term, I had decided to buy a bicycle and do long distance rides 1-2 times a week with the other cardio workouts filled with already, very, very difficult martial arts classes. I don’t jog anymore because I have knee problems.

In the past, I have had trouble with the lifting aspects of difficult mud runs, such as in the Spartan Super where my team and I (separately) had to carry weights and to fix that, I have started lifting, but in a way that will not get in the way of my cardio endurance.

I now do kettlebell workouts every morning where I do normal swinging 100 times. Kettlebells are great at replicating a scenario where you carry a weight and because you’re swinging it, you’re also replicating yourself moving while carrying a weight so it’s building endurance. That’s about it with regards to weight lifting.

There are mandatory strength workouts I will continue to do 5 days a week and maybe everyday: Pullups, rope climbing, monkey bars with the aim to basically improve the time I can last while hanging as well as grip.

Now one thing that makes Tough Mudder different is that you have to dive into very, very cold water. And to get myself ready for that, I have begun taking cold showers every single day.

If you’ve never done this and you’ve got a mud run with this type of obstacle coming up, start from relatively warm water and slowly decrease the temperature until you are able to withstand the maximum cold temperature your shower has. I am already able to withstand those temperatures so the next thing I will do is an occasional ice bath.

Do not do these unless you are prepared or else you can have a heart attack! 

And being that the race was in October, chances are the weather is going to be somewhere between 50-70 degrees. Since our event is early, it’ll probably be closer to 50 which makes the cold showers even more necessary. 

For your physical body, I feel that the strength workouts, kettlebells and cardio I’ve listed is going to help a lot. If you don’t do martial arts and your knees don’t hurt, do long distance jogs to compensate, but make sure you can do the heavy lifting too without it interfering with your stamina. Again, kettlebells are highly recommended.

One other thing is stretching and keeping the body warm. Make sure your body is loose enough to avoid injury. The weather is going to be pretty cold and that means the muscles will be more contracted. 

Do basic stretches that involve the feet, back, shoulders and hands. If you go to a gym, ask a personal trainer for stretching tips and repeat them. 

Now that basically completes the necessities for your body to be prepared, but now we get into the gear part. For this, wear the things I’ve listed here. Things such:

Compression clothing which is part of that list is going to be huge especially in the cold weather. If you’ve ever seen people jogging through during the winter, you may notice a lot of them wear tight pants and clothing that compresses their muscles. Focus on compression clothing that covers up your legs and body since it’ll keep it warm and help the body stay loose. 

Summary of preparations before the race:

  • Do strength workouts that can be classified as calisthenics. I also recommend the kettlebell unless you already do some kind of weight lifting. Remember, in mud runs, any weight lifting requires you also move so don’t just focus on lifting and sitting in place. Carry weights than don’t put too much pressure on your body around an area and again, kettlebells will definitely work.
  • Make sure your cardio is fine. Expect at least 10 miles of jogging/power walking with very few periods of stopping.
  • Remember the cold showers will help.
  • Make sure your body is flexible and loose before the race. Also if you ever feel like you may have a cramp or injury while doing it, stop and stretch. 
  • Wear the things that keep you warm and mobile. Also keep a backpack handy because on long races you can get very hungry and tired and there’s products that can re-energize you that can be kept inside the backpack.

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Now for the post race updates:

Did I prepare enough for Tough Mudder when the race finally happened? Here is my post race experience. There were many things on this race I did not expect but overall, my preparations greatly helped me. What surprised me was how much harder it was when my teammates weren’t adequately prepared.

But since I did say I completed 2 of these, here is info on the second one, where I actually had a major injury, and it was not due to lack of preparation, but because of an accident.

3 thoughts on “How to Prepare For Tough Mudder so You Don’t Get Hurt.”

  1. So years ago I did the Hell Run and it was a blast. There are some great tips and tricks that make these runs much more enjoyable. I knew there would be a barb wire crawl so I spent all this time practicing a bear crawl. Fast forward to me watching a Spartan Race video and this woman just lays down sideways and rolls underneath it. I felt like a moron.

  2. I did the Tough Mudder twice. I was freaking out before the first time I did because I didn’t know if I was anywhere near the level of physical fitness I needed to get through it. I prepared by doing a lot of cardio, jogging mostly because the course is very long, and upper body strength exercise (particularly grip strength) because there’s a lot of climbing involved. The second time around I made sure to practice climbing up down hills because the Tough Mudder where I live is situated on a ski hill, and we are constantly going up and down it.

    • The point you made about finding out where it’s taking place is fantastic Jason! I should have put that in because if you know it’s taking place on a flat environment, you won’t have to worry too much about climbing vs if you do it on a mountain slope!

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