The Tough Mudder First Timer's Survival Guide

New To Tough Mudder

The Tough Mudder First Timer's Survival Guide

You may have run a marathon, or think yourself a bit of a gym rat, but one guarantee is you have never faced anything like a Tough Mudder. There is a reason it is described as “probably the toughest event on the planet.”

You may have run a marathon, or think yourself a bit of a gym rat, but one guarantee is you have never faced anything like a Tough Mudder. There is a reason it is described as “probably the toughest event on the planet.”

As a first time Mudder you’ll need strength, speed and ultra high endurance levels. But it’s not all about physical prowess either. If you’re wanting to complete this gruelling challenge you better come equipped with a whole lotta grit between your pearly whites.

Just to put into perspective how tough your first time will be, here’s some scary stats. There are between 25-30 obstacles that deploy fire, 10,000 volts of electricity and deep muddy pits. The challenge takes it’s toll on a lot of mudders, hardened and newcomers alike, with only 78 per cent of entrants managing to earn the hallowed orange headband.

Taking all this into account we’ve put together the dos and don’ts to help you survive your inaugural trip through the abyss of mud and fire.

Let’s get physical

Training for your first Tough Mudder will take more than your average trip to the gym or multi mile run. Due to the nature of the event, you will be forced to scale huge walls, literally jump through fiery hoops and tentatively manoeuvre your way through an electrically charged hell. This means you’ll be using muscle groups you never knew you had. Consequently, specific muscle group training like bench presses and circuit runs won’t get you very far. As a first timer you should try a P90X routine - it will guarantee you a full body workout.

With the event being riddled with obstacles, strength on its own will only get you so far. You need to make sure your agility is up to scratch too. Try some yoga as part of your workouts to increase your flexibility, while also strengthening most parts of your body.

Multi mile runs might not be enough to get you through the event on their own, but they are a must as part of your training if you want to get to the finish line and sup on that hard-earned beer. We recommend that you should be able to comfortably run 5-6 miles (8-10 km) before you attempt your Tough Mudder.

It’s all in the head

As we’ve mentioned you’ll never have done anything like a T.M. before. Training will get you so far but even the fittest person on the course might not finish. When you’re standing at the base of a slippery 12 ft (3.6m) wall your body will be telling you: “don’t do it!” don’t listen, get your head in the game and power on through. Your mental readiness will push you through when your muscles are screaming for you to stop.

Just remember the pain you’re going through is only temporary, the memory of completing the challenge will last a lifetime. Also remember you’re not on your own, the guy or girl next to you is, or will be experiencing the same thing as you at some point, so do it for yourself, but also do it for your Tough Mudder brothers.

Team - Together Everyone Achieves More

80 per cent of Mudders go through the turmoil and pain of a Tough Mudder alongside their best and bravest friends, and for good reason. There are the crazies that enter the event alone, but as a first timer we recommend you bring a friend or 10 with you. The camaraderie of the team will rub off on its members, you can trudge on, knowing that whether it’s a literal helping hand up a muddy slope, or a mental hand helping you through the ‘I can’t go on’ barrier at the halfway point - entering as a team is essential for those first time mudders. Teamwork is the Tough Mudder way.

Gear up

Whether it’s in blistering heat or biting cold, your kit will be key to your survival in a Tough Mudder challenge. Depending on where you choose to undertake your first Tough Mudder will influence your choice of kit, however there are some basic pieces that every first timer shouldn’t go without.

Some past Tough Mudders look at gloves as a waste of time, but when you’re dunked in ice cold water then faced with freezing cold steel bars to clamber along or a wooden wall to summit, you will look at your gloves covering your toasty fingers and splinter free hands and be glad you chose to wear them. Just be sure they are tight fitting with great mobility to stop you slipping.

Layers are important when it comes to getting dressed for a Tough Mudder but don’t make the rookie mistake of thinking more layers means you’ll be warmer for the challenge. True you’ll be as snug as a bug until you hit the first ice cold muddy pool - then more layers means more drying time, more weight to carry and could end your challenge early.

Try a base layer, t shirt and shorts or leggings, trust us you’ll be working hard enough to keep yourself warm.

Respect your feet

Don’t forget to sort out your shoe situation either - remember you have to be comfy to run for 10-12 miles (16-19 km). Break them in before the event or you could be left crippled by blisters, not a good look. Also remember to tape them on - you really don't want to lose a shoe at any point on the course. Under your speed demons you should make sure you have the perfect sock. Believe it or not these can be the difference between finishing or quitting, when the going gets wet and muddy you need to make sure your feet are as warm and supported as possible, after all they will be what carry you over the finish line.

Picture credit: CA Eccles/