How to train and what to wear for Tough Mudder

One of the questions that I was asked the most in my run up to Tough Mudder, aside from “have you lost your mind?”, was “how do you train for something like that?”. One of the things which I did the most research on before taking part in the event was what to wear on the day itself. So I thought I’d do a post on both of those things.

On the training side I did another shorter round of Julia Buckley’s fat loss fitness programme. This is a combination of weight lifting, high intensity interval sessions, and plyometric workouts. I’ve now been training like this since January and my body is much leaner and stronger for it. It was perfect training for an event like Tough Mudder which was a test of total body strength and not just the ability to put one foot in front of the other for mile after mile.

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Added onto Julia’s programme I tried to teach myself to do pull ups. I say tried because I haven’t mastered it yet. Pull ups are tough. In retrospect I wish I’d started practicing them earlier, and I wish I’d tried more often. The ability to do just one pull up would have seen me conquer Everest and avoid some of the extensive bruising that I’ve got!

I also included running in my training. The course was 11.5 miles long but we never ran for more than a mile at a time without stopping for an obstacle and in some cases there were several obstacles within the space of a mile. Again, looking back I wish I’d included more off road and hill work in my training. Running on grass and uneven surfaces is far more challenging than running on the road and the constant ups and downs of the Tough Mudder course took a toll on my legs in a way that road running never has.

So if I decide to take part again next year then I’d train in the same way, just learning the lessons from this time and adding in those elements I wished I’d done more of.

So, what do you wear when you’re going to be crawling through mud, swimming in dirty water, getting electrocuted and running around hilly countryside for nearly 12 miles? My research told me a few of things:

1) Wear a decent pair of trail shoes – wearing an old pair of road runners that you don’t mind trashing might seem like a good idea, but when it’s slippery and muddy underfoot you really don’t want to be worrying about your footing.

2) Wear one layer of clothing that’s as close to bare skin as you can get. While layers might seem like a good idea when it’s a bit cold, in reality once they’re wet the clothes will feel heavy and you won’t want that dragging you down. Cotton is a total no-no as it will weigh a tonne and could cause some unpleasant chafing!

3) Gloves are a good idea if you’re concerned about grip, or getting splinters from some of the obstacles. Choose carefully as again you don’t want anything that’s going to hold water in them

4) Wear underwear. Now I’ll admit to sometimes running commando. I’ve just never really found underwear that’s comfortable for long distance running and since running tights feel like a second skin, no big deal. But some of the obstacles at Tough Mudder have serious ‘rip your running tights’ potential and exposing your nether regions to all and sundry halfway around the obstacle course was one worry you really don’t need.

So with all this advice heeded – here’s how I kitted myself out for the day

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  • Shock absorber Max support bra – my favourite sports bra bar none
  •  Moving comfort workout hipster – the most comfortable pair of knickers I own – I now don’t go running without them
  • UnderArmour Charge RC Storm running shoes – I never once worried about my footing or slipping or sliding. I also didn’t worry at all about these coming off my feet and getting stuck in the mud. These were a fantastic find and I would highly recommended them.
  • Hilly Mono Skin Lite Socklet Socks – thin and quick drying
  •  2XU compression tights and short sleeved top – this looked almost like a short sleeved wetsuit and I’m sure that having my legs covered stopped me from taking the full force of the electric shocks
  •  Lonsdale boxing gel wraps – protected my hands while adding some extra grip but with plenty of holes for drainage
  • Sweaty Betty Wide Non-Slip Headband – kept my hair out of my face/eyes the whole way around

TeamJulia

The photo above was taken about a third of the way around. We’ve just been dumped in Artic Enema and crawled under a tank through mud. My kit is looking OK. This is what it looked like at the end of the course.

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Again – a bit muddy but in generally good shape. Apart from my poor trainers, yes there are a pair of trainers under that mud somewhere. Now generally I wouldn’t put a pair of trainers in the washing machine. Probably not great for the trainers, or for the washing machine itself. But having left my shoes to dry outside for the night and removing nearly half a kg of mud from them I took the chance.

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They’re as good as new and I am super impressed! In fact all of my kit has washed well and looks like nothing ever happened to it.

I’m pleased with my kit choices and actually wouldn’t change anything if I took part again. Except for maybe a long sleeved top if the weather was colder.

Have you taken part in Tough Mudder or a muddy run? What do you wear? Any top tips for training?

6 thoughts

  1. Hi Becca. I’m from the Shock Absorber press office. So happy your Shock Absorber sports bra held up for you.

    Please feel free to contact me and hopefully you can review some other styles in the range.

    Jess

  2. This is great, thanks for the tips on what to wear (no-one wants to end up half naked while up a 12ft obstacle!) and the training tips too. I think you might have done the impossible and convinced me that I would want to race this one day!

  3. Just found this article the night before my first TM…I’ve got compression tops and bottoms, trail shoes, the same socks, comfy but supportive underwear and a headband! I know feel reassured!

  4. This was really helpful – got my first tough mudder in September this year!! TM also mention on their website that they recommend a wetsuit but that seems quite a heavy thing to lug around on the day. The compression tights/top may be the answer!!!

    1. I think a wetsuit might be a bit OTT Sharn but compression gear definitely help. You just want something that will stay close to your body and isn’t going to rip easily. Glad you found the post helpful and good luck in September -it’s quite an experience!

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