6 Mistakes Rookie Mudders Make (That You Can Avoid)
1. Not Working On Agility
Agility is the body’s ability to quickly change direction and position UNDER CONTROL—and it’s a key pillar in Tough Mudder Bootcamp Methodology. This frequently overlooked physical skill is one that Tough Mudders use on the course with each and every step. Tough Mudder courses aren’t flat, they aren’t dry, and they’re always changing. First-timers who come to Tough Mudder often forget to get outside and train on the trails and perform balance exercises at the gym. I recommend replacing at least one training day each week with a run on a field or trail. I also recommend practicing simple things like balancing on one leg, lateral hops over hurdles, single leg deadlifts—really anything that might take you out of your comfort zone in a controlled environment.
2. Wearing Busted Shoes
I can’t tell you how many times I have stood on the Emcee stage and looked out over the crowd and seen Mudders wearing shoes that are duck-taped together, with the soles falling off and laces frayed. Rookie racers often approach a Tough Mudder with the thought, “I don’t want to ruin my good shoes for this.” But think about it: You’re about to embark on the most epic adventure run of your life and you brought the most busted up equipment you own to do it in? News flash: You put yourself at risk of ruining your body and your experience when you do that. Good shoes (I recommend the Merrell All Out Crush Shoe 2.0) have a proper grip on the bottom and optimal drainage for water and mud. Old and busted shoes will likely fail—which means that you won’t perform as well and may not be able to support your team members when they need you. So first-time Mudders, do you and the rest of Mudder Nation a favor and strap on proper shoes when you get to the start line. And make sure your laces are tied.
3. Thinking They Need a Team
Teamwork and camaraderie are foundational tenets of the Tough Mudder experience—but it can be hard to rally a large group to run an event with you. (After all, you might be the lone person in your peer group who sees the benefits of the challenge that a Tough Mudder course brings.) But don’t worry if you can’t pull together a team, because you have a tribe of thousands of fellow Mudders waiting to help and push you toward the finish. We Legionnaires are a fierce and supportive bunch. Often times I begin an event by myself and quickly get swooped up into a group, running with that group for a couple miles and then pacing with another…and another, until the end. By the end of a Tough Mudder you’ll probably have made 50 new friends, had an amazing time and shared some laughs along the way. An easy way to find someone to run with is to pick out folks who are sporting a Tough Mudder headband. These leaders know the value of teamwork and will gladly be your running buddy for the day. We’ve all been there, “first-timing” something new.
4. Not Fueling During the Race
Rolling out of bed on the day of your first Tough Mudder can be nerve-racking. You may not want to eat a big breakfast, especially if you have an early start time, and may think fueling yourself with a protein bar and coffee will suffice. I get it, we’ve all been there. But Tough Mudder demands proper nutrition. I have learned that consuming calories during the run is as important as anything else. While Tough Mudder does an amazing job having food, water, and elecrolytes on course; you may want to pack some other fuel for the journey. Say hello to your fanny pack! That’s right first-timers, it’s time to strap on a small fanny pack or a small backpack to store some extra water and food to make the event more enjoyable. This is especially true if you’re tackling the Tough Mudder Full for your first time, where you can expect to be on course for 3-5 hours. You don’t want to be the ‘hangry’ runner who is bumming everyone out and has no energy to support team-members on obstacles. For first time-runners I suggest some energy bars, beef jerky, electrolyte chews, water, and Swedish fish inside a zip-top bag. And bring extra, because there’s nothing better than sharing a snack with a muddy friend while on the course.
5. Not Working On Mobility
Barring the bumps and bruises that come with being on course, what I have seen more than anything else is first-tIme Mudders going down with cramps or pulled muscles. Working on mobility—like stretching and foam rolling—is essential to your health and effectiveness on course. And this doesn’t mean showing up at the start line, doing a couple of half-assed toe touches and expecting to be good. A proper mobility plan needs to be a significant part of your training the weeks and months before the event. Obstacles at Tough Mudder test your flexibility with wall climbs, crawling up, over and through objects, and often supporting the weight of a teammate while they get through a tough spot. As a first-time Mudder you want to be able to stretch without cramping or pulling muscles, so I suggest doing dynamic movement like squats, lunges, and jumping jacks before training. After training, grab a foam roller or mobility ball to target sore spots and push out inflammation.
6. Not Cross Training
When I ask most first-timers if they have been training, the usual response is, “Yes, I’ve been running a lot.” I usually nod and say a prayer because Tough Mudder is SO much more than just going for a run. As a first-time Mudder you need to know that you’re going to test ALL aspects of your physical and mental capacity while on course. Therefore, cross training with other sports and doing strength training is vital to your success. A great way to shake up your training is to ride a bike 1 day a week instead of just going out on a run. The strength and cardiovascular benefits of riding your bike will keep your body adapting to different things as you get mentally tough. In the gym, dont just do the eliptical and call it a day. Grab some weights and carry them around, squat them, deadlift them, press them. Find a bar and practice hanging and pull ups. Not sure where to start? Check out our Tough Mudder Training Plan videos, which can be done with minimal equipment and are a great way to work up a sweat and make you a better all around Mudder.