Taking on Tough Mudder doesn’t just take mental strength and the right Under Armour kit, you need some tactical smarts too. We challenged T3’s very own endurance junkie, Kieran Alger, to take on the fear-inducing obstacles, battle the mud and bring back ten great tips to help you make mincemeat out of the 11-mile course and earn that orange headband.
Don’t think, jump
There’s a big psychological element to many of the obstacles, the biggest of which is probably Walk the Plank where you’re required to drop 12 feet into a pool of muddy, icy water. The trick here is not to give yourself the chance to think. Step forward, don’t look down and take the leap of faith without hesitation. You’ll be doggy paddling to safety quicker than you can say bellyflop. Make sure you’ve got a brilliant base-layer on for this one, like the Under Armour ColdGear® Infrared range, which will make sure you stay as warm as possible after the icy dip!
Strength in teamwork
Whether you’re running solo or in a gang of fifteen, throughout the Tough Mudder course there are times when you’re going to need help. One of these is getting over the 9-foot wall Hero Walls. This is where team work comes in. Get someone with a head for heights to climb up first, straddle the top and then help those with more trembly climbing legs go over the top.
Choose the right shoes
Grip is important but you don’t want to be wearing anything too bulky on your feet. You’re going to pick up a lot of heavy mud along the way and hauling those extra pounds up and over obstacles for two and a half hours will get tiring. So all out trail shoes might be a bit much. Instead lace yourself into something like the Under Armour SpeedForm™ XC Trail Running Shoes with solid uppers, and good ankle support plus a decent set of lugs for that all-essential grip.
Develop tunnel vision
Another unpleasant obstacle is the Boa Constrictor. Crawling around 20 metres through narrow tubes that run downhill first followed by a trickier uphill section, is a claustrophobe’s nightmare. One way to win the battle of mind over matter is to stare dead ahead at the circle of light and crawl fast from the first push into the tube. The momentum should keep you moving, reducing the chances to stop and get stuck.
The log carry obstacle is one that calls on you to dig deep. The challenge: take a log off another runner who’s just returned from their five minutes of pain and then carry it over 100 metres or so through deep mud, before handing it over to the next poor soul. At this point it’s vital to remember that not all logs are equal on the Tough Mudder course. So choose whose wood you get your hands on carefully. Make sure it’s a small one and you’re legs and shoulders will thank you. Plus you won’t be left holding the heavy log that no one wants to take when you return to base. A thicker top here will save you from unwanted friction, something like the awesome Under Armour Storm Armour® Fleece Big Logo Hoodie will see you right.
In single sprint Everest is often the second-to-last obstacle and with 15 foot of skateboard ramp to summit, it can seem daunting. But it’s not as hard as it looks provided you go for power. Take a decent run up, lift your knees and channel you’re inner Usain Bolt. The temptation is to stop running once you hit the curve of the ramp, don’t. Keep going and you’ll give yourself the best chance of grabbing onto to the top board to haul yourself one obstacle closer to the orange headband. Failing that, let someone big and strong pull you up.
Everyone fears the electric eels where you attempt to get through ten metres of dangling electric wires without taking too many high voltage hits. Some people try to go slow and pick their way through like a ninja. Don’t. If you come to a standstill in the middle you’re going to take all kinds of pain. Get your head down and charge through. At the most you’ll take one surge and that’s a good result. Again, a decent hoodie will help loads here, even if it’s only psychologically! Luckily you’re still wearing the Under Armour Storm Armour® Fleece Big Logo Hoodie from the log carry, right?
Don’t underestimate the run
It’s easy to focus on the electric shocks, ice baths and tricky hero wall climbs and forget that you’re also going to be running distances not far short of a half marathon. Make sure you get some miles logged when you’re training in your Under Armour SpeedForm™ XC Trail Running Shoes (never compete in shoes you’ve not trained in!) The extra stamina in your tank will be needed to get you up Everest and over that finish line.
Swing when you’re winning
The hang tough obstacle - a set of gym hoops stretching across a 15-foot mud bath - is one of the toughest to master. Very few people make it all the way across because this piece of Tough Mudder torture is all about technique not just upper body strength. Use your initial momentum and your legs to swing from ring to ring making sure you keep moving all the way across. Stopping at any point means a guaranteed dip in the dirty pond.
Prepare for change
It might sound like and obvious thing to say but you’d be surprised how many Tough Mudder finishers don’t think beyond the finish line. For a faster recovery and less aches and pains the following day, you need to get out of that wet kit and warm the muscles fast. Pair the Under Armour Fleece Storm Big Logo Hoodie and Men's Charged Cotton® Storm Transit Trousers with some cutting edge CGI tech-toting base layers to warm your limbs while you recount tales of your Tough Mudder heroism with a celebratory burger and rehydrating beer.
For more info on Under Arnour products check out www.underarmour.co.uk