Ultimate Tough Mudder Guide

Thinking of giving Tough Mudder a go? Here's a rundown to answer any questions you may have about the event, including preparing for Tough Mudder and recovering from it.

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What is Tough Mudder?

Designed to bring the best out of you, both mentally and physically, Tough Mudder will take you way out of your comfort zone. But it's so different to your usual endurance challenge – there's no winning time and there are no podium finishes, instead it's about camaraderie, teamwork and having fun over a muddy and challenging obstacle course.

When and where can I take part?

Since the first event way back in 2010, the Tough Mudder challenge has exploded on a global scale. From the United Kingdom to the United Arab Emirates, you'll find events being held across eight different countries ranging in distance, obstacles and difficulty.

Keep an eye out for any upcoming dates or monitor the Tough Mudder discussions on realbuzz.com, or on the Tough Mudder event schedule.

Why is Tough Mudder so popular?

You might be thinking to yourself "how can a gruelling obstacle course that involves going in freezing cold water, getting electrocuted and having to push yourself to the limit have such a huge following?"

Taking part in one of the Tough Mudder challenges takes grit, determination and teamwork.

The answer is that Tough Mudder is so much more than that. Taking part in one of the Tough Mudder challenges takes grit, determination and teamwork, and it's hard to find a greater sense of achievement than when you cross that finishing line.

It's not about fierce competition, it's all about fun and camaraderie, and that's why it's so popular. Check out the stats about Tough Mudder that you won’t quite believe.

How does Tough Mudder differ to other obstacle courses?

What other obstacle course uses 80,000 pounds of ice, 10,000 volts of electricity and 12-foot high walls? Aside from the colossal obstacles, Tough Mudder has created a family.

Over 1.2 million have taken part, and in the process, over 4,000 Tough Mudder tattoos have been inked! Find out 10 things you probably don’t know about Tough Mudder.

What you get for tackling Tough Mudder

Mudders helping each other over an obstacle.

Tough Mudder isn't about who finishes the course first or what time you complete it in, so there aren't any medals on offer. Instead, you'll be inducted into the Mudder Legion. As you cross the line, an orange headband will be placed upon your head, commemorating your achievement.

You'll get a Tough Mudder T-shirt too, as well as an ice cold drink for 100% refreshment. But most of all you get the feeling of achievement and success – that's better than any giveaway.

Thinking of taking the Tough Mudder challenge for the first time?

The best piece of advice we can give is not to be scared. Yes, you really can do a Tough Mudder. Tough Mudder is all about bonding and, most of all, having fun.

Yes, it'll take a mixture of physical and mental endurance to get to the finish line, but get the bit between your teeth and fully embrace everything Tough Mudder stands for, and you'll have the time of your life. Check out the first timer’s survival guide to Tough Mudder.

Going back for more mud

Earn the respect of the Mudder Legion, and in return, they will treat you well. For every Tough Mudder course you tackle after your first, you'll receive a different coloured headband – if you complete 10 Tough Mudder challenges, you'll get the prestigious black band.

If you complete 10 Tough Mudder challenges, you'll get the prestigious black band.

Not only that, but you'll also get to try out the latest obstacles that Tough Mudder is trialling on an additional section of the course, so you'll be the first to taste their latest innovative ideas.

The different coloured Tough Mudder headbands.

Full or half?

As well as the full version, you can also participate in the Half Tough Mudder. Like the name suggests it's like the normal challenge, but just half the distance. Tackle 13 obstacles over a five mile run – it's the perfect event for any Tough Mudder beginner.

Get the kids involved

Taking the challenge is all about bonding and teamwork, so why not get the little ones involved too. The Kids Tough Mudder, known as the Mini Mudder, is aimed at under-13s and will allow children to practice working together and give them a sense of achievement when completing the one-mile course.

Get the full Tough Mudder event experience by staying on-site over the course of the weekend.

Parking & Camping

Get the full Tough Mudder event experience by staying on-site over the course of the weekend. It’s the perfect chance to meet with others taking on the challenge, and you and your Tough Mudder team can have peace of mind that you won't miss your start time. If you’d rather turn up on the day, there will be plenty of car parking spaces available when you arrive.

A mudder tackles an obstacle.

About Tough Mudder

Taking part for charity

There are a whole host of reasons why you should take on Tough Mudder for charity, from making a difference to someone's life to seeing some rewards for the hard work you've put in. Why not tick it off your endurance challenge list and raise some cash at the same time too.

How to raise money

Fundraising for Tough Mudder can be as much fun as the challenge itself. Whether holding a charity bake sale in the office, sitting in a bath of baked beans or shaving your hair off, the opportunities to build your sponsorship coffers up are endless.

You can find out more about signing up for Tough Mudder for charity through our dedicated page here.

Training

Tough Mudder needs not only physical strength, but also mental preparation too.

In the build up to taking on this epic obstacle course, you'll need to make sure your body is up to the challenge. Tough Mudder needs not only physical strength, but also mental preparation too. Here are a few tips to consider when planning your Tough Mudder training plan.

Preparation

To be prepared for any Tough Mudder event, you need a mixture of cardio fitness and muscular strength. But remember, this isn’t a race – your Tough Mudder workout plan doesn’t need to push your body to the absolute limit, so just do as much training as necessary to help you achieve your goals.

You don't need to be in the gym all the time or going out on a run every night of the week to prepare for Tough Mudder – just a couple of hours a week is a good place to start, then if you feel you can and want to do more, you can always up your training programme.

Make sure to work the key muscle areas that you'll need for the course when you're training for a Tough Mudder. Check out these key exercises to help you prepare for Tough Mudder.

Strength Training

Mudders tackle a Hero Wall.

Upper body strength will be one of the biggest assets to you when tackling the likes of Hero Walls and Skidmarked. Working to strengthen your back, chest and biceps beforehand will stand you in good stead – a few simple exercises like press-ups or pull-ups will help build up your core muscles and benefit you out on the course. Find out more about strength training with our FAQs.

Running Training

With it being a 12-mile obstacle course, running is bound to play a part in your Tough Mudder training. But remember, there's no shame in not being able to run the whole course.

Undertake as much running possible as you see fit to achieve your goals – remember it's not a race, so you don’t need to fly round the course at 100mph! For tips on running training check out the running section.

Training to work as a team

You'll rely on the help of your team when you need a boost up over a wall, to help pull you out of the water or even just to keep you motivated.

The Tough Mudder course isn't built for the individual – it's a team arena. You'll rely on the help of your team when you need a boost up over a wall, to help pull you out of the water or even just to keep you motivated throughout the challenge. Teamwork training for Tough Mudder is key, so try and meet up with your teammates a few times before your event date.

If you want some help with your training then join our Tough Mudder Challenge to get access to training plan and other helpful info.

There's no "I" in Mudder.

Obstacles

Prepare yourself, it's going to be one hell of a ride! Here's the lowdown on the Tough Mudder obstacles you'll be facing.

What's new?

A more recent addition to the list of Tough Mudder obstacles is the Block Ness Monster. Featuring at both full and half-length events, this takes working as a team to a whole new level. Take on 60 feet of rotating barriers, and slide, push and pull you and your teammates to the other side.

Hardest obstacles

As you'd expect, the obstacles on the course vary in difficulty, with some being a bit trickier than others. One of Tough Mudder's toughest obstacles, you'll need a mixture of strength and speed – and some clever tactics - to conquer Everest.

A 15ft quarter-pipe with a recurved top making it more difficult to grab, you'll need the help of your team to drag you over the top. Two of the more upper-body strength orientated obstacles are Funky Monkey and King of the Swingers – one misplaced hand and you'll be in the drink.

King of the Swingers.

Easiest obstacles

With the more problematic hurdles on the course, there are simpler ones that'll you'll have no issues tackling. Take the Cage Crawl for example; all you need to do is pull yourself along through the muddy waters on your back – sounds easy, right?

Another of the easiest Tough Mudder obstacles is the Birth Canal, where you have to burrow your way through a pipe to fresh air on the other side.

Popular obstacles

A firm favourite of the Mudder Legion is the Arctic Enema. It's literally the best place on the Tough Mudder challenge to chill out, as you submerge yourself into 10 tonnes of ice. The icy plunge is a sure-fire way of waking up those tired limbs, that's for sure.

This obstacle epitomises the entire ethos of the event, as you slide and wade your way through the deep mud-filled pits.

Of all the Tough Mudder obstacles though, none is more notorious than the Mud Mile. This obstacle epitomises the entire ethos of the event, as you slide and wade your way through the deep mud-filled pits. Nobody comes out of this one clean.

Submerged in mud.

How to overcome each obstacle

Don't think you'll be able to defeat the obstacles? Anything is achievable when it comes to event day. From approaching the Berlin Wall in the right manner, to being fearless when it comes to Tough Mudder's water obstacles, we've taken a look at some of the top tips to help you throughout the course.

What to wear

Choosing the right clothing and accessories on the day of your Tough Mudder event is key not only for you to get comfy and warm whilst on the course, but also to keep safe. This isn't Milan Fashion Week – you need sturdy shoes and quick-drying gear to help combat Tough Mudder's challenging elements. Check out the kit and gear you’ll need for Tough Mudder.

Getting the right training shoes

Choosing the best trainers for Tough Mudder is vitally important – it'll be your footwear that helps you get around the course. You'll need a durable, light-weight pair that offers ample grip for running up a slippery slope.

Be sure to wear them in beforehand too, as you don't want any discomfort or rubbing come event day. You might also want to put some binding around them to keep them secure on your feet.

One Mudder takes a dip.

Best clothing

Once you've sorted out a decent pair of Tough Mudder trainers, it's onto your attire. The best clothing tip for the challenge is choosing something that'll dry out fast – with the amount of water on the Tough Mudder course, you'll want to be dry quickly! Try synthetic shorts and a tight fitting top for starters, then look to compression layers if you're worried about feeling cold.

Try synthetic shorts and a tight fitting top for starters, then look to compression layers if you're worried about feeling cold.

Dealing with pains/injuries

At the end of the day, this is an endurance challenge and the first priority has to be your personal health and safety – nobody wants to see any participant come away with an injury, or injuries from Tough Mudder.

Looking after your knees

Throughout the Tough Mudder challenge, your knees will take the brunt of the pounding. From the constant running, climbing and jumping, you'll apply far more pressure to your knee joints than usual, which may cause potential problems. If you feel taking on an obstacle may place unwanted force or pressure onto your knees, simply skip it.

How to cope/what to use

If you feel that your body needs some extra support during the event, it's best to buy the right products before the day. For example, getting some knee protection for Tough Mudder can make all the difference on some of the more demanding obstacles.

The infamous Everest.

What to do before your Tough Mudder

Your event day is here – you've done all the preparation for the Tough Mudder challenge, but what do you need to do before you set off? Here's a few key elements so you're ready on the start line.

Fuelling your engine

Eating the right food before you set off on your mud adventure is important for you to achieve your goals. You need to be full of energy and be fully hydrated to ensure you can get round the Tough Mudder course without any issues.

Oatmeal is a great source of protein, whereas a peanut butter sandwich will help store up some extra energy when you need it on the home straight. Check out these Tough Mudder breakfast ideas.

How to warm up & stretch

To ensure you don't tweak a hamstring or pull your calf muscle, it’s imperative to warm up thoroughly before hitting the obstacle course. Although you'll be taken through a warm up session with one of the Tough Mudder experts, it's best to do your own warm up too – especially if you know of any problems you may have.

Get to your event in good time so you can spend a good amount of time warming up so you'll be ready to roll. Check out the basics of warming up for exercise.

What to do after

Take in your achievements!

The first thing to do when you cross that finish line is look back and see what you have just conquered. You battled a challenging obstacle course and won – you're one of the Mudder Legion now - enjoy that well-earned drink.

You battled a challenging obstacle course and won – you're one of the Mudder Legion now.

How to cool down & stretch

Just as important as warming up - be sure to put your body through a cool down session after you complete your Tough Mudder event. You might not want to at the time, but your body will certainly thank you in the long run. Taking an ice bath on the same day will also help your body's recovery.

Recovery tips

The day after you've completed the Tough Mudder challenge, you'll know you've pushed your body to the limits. Applying both ice and heat to your sore body parts can aid your recuperation, and taking it steady for a day will help too. Opt for protein-heavy foods or even a recovery smoothie to help those tender muscles get back to normal. Find out how to properly recover after your Tough Mudder.

Photo opportunities

Photo opportunities at Tough Mudder.

Don't worry, you'll be able to bag yourself a new social media profile picture whilst out on the course with an official Tough Mudder photo.

Photographers will line the course, so you're bound to get a good snap of you caked in the brown stuff on Mud Mile or throwing yourself through the Electroshock Therapy. There's plenty of time before and after the event to grab your own personal photos too.

Knowing your goals, and achieving them

Don't worry about everyone else out there, focus on your own Tough Mudder challenge and what you want to achieve. If you want to post the best Tough Mudder time you possibly can, there's no doubt you'll need to undertake more training compared to those running for charity.

Set yourself realistic goals and you'll enjoy reaching them even more when you cross the line.

Sharing your experience on social media

Why do it?

Well, why wouldn't you want to share your Tough Mudder event experience with your friends? You'll have just completed an event that’s pushed your body to the limit – you've got the right to show off about it.

It's not just about pride though – raising awareness of the charitable side of the event can also help you raise money.

Mudders celebrate completing the course.

How to do it

Simply follow the official Tough Mudder Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, and share your stories and pictures across them and your own social accounts, and don’t forget to tag and mention the TM brand in your message.

Picture credit: CA Eccles / Shutterstock.com