Tough Mudder is fast becoming the name synonymous with obstacles races. In fact it’s a particular brand of Obstacle Course Race, or OCR, which pits runners against mud, water, electricity, fire and more to see who can survive to the finish.
So far so painfully unappealing? While it sounds gruelling these are fast becoming more and more popular as the satisfaction of completing such a challenge is a rush sought by many. In all honesty the actual races are far more fun than they sound - a bit more like an giant obstacle course for adults. We may not be allowed in playgrounds anymore, but that doesn't mean we don’t want to play, right?
There’s glory to be had too, in the form of headbands. The more Tough Mudder races you complete the better the headband. In a martial arts style you get varying levels of colours as you add up your race numbers. The top level is a black headband for those that have completed a full 10 Tough Mudder races.
Tough Mudder races are all about endurance and vary between 10 and 12 miles. This might not sound like a lot to some runners but when you add in obstacles like wall climbs, monkey bars over water, fire pits to jump and more, those miles start to feel longer.
Since Tough Mudder started in the US in 2010 over 2.5 million people have raced. If you’re planning to join that number, read on to find out exactly what you need to know before you fight for that Tough Mudder completer title.
When should I do a Tough Mudder?
If you’re taking on one of the many Tough Mudders you’ll probably want to do one in fairer weather - ideally at the back end of the summer when it’s not too hot but the water stages are less cold. Here's how to sign up and get on the list
What should I wear to Tough Mudder?
The next factor to take into account is kit. This race will be really, really messy. So, ideally, wear some old worn-in trainers you don’t mind throwing away afterwards. The same goes for clothing which will likely get torn as you crawl under barbed wires and along stoney ground.
Under layers like leggings and a tight top are also good ideas to provide your skin with a bit more protection and to the take the edge off on colder water sections. Also when it comes to electric shocks you’ll be glad to have these on.
What smartwatch or activity tracker should I use?
We’ve tested smartwatches on Tough Mudder courses and they’ve survived but they always seems to get dirt in cracks you didn’t know were there. Then it can’t be unseen - so we’d recommend leaving gadgets at home.
If you do really want to track your distance then an activity tracker with rubberised finish is ideal. These have great waterproofing and few screen edges to let in muck. The Fitbit Alta HR or Garmin Vivosmart 3 are good options as they’re affordable, despite the lack of GPS. If you don’t mind risking a more pricey wearable then a Fitbit Surge, TomTom Spark 3 or Garmin Forerunner 935 could do you proud.
How much is the Tough Mudder price?
Depending on where you race, and when, prices will vary. If you register early you can race for £85. But beware as the race gets closer the price increases weekly, so if you’re late to join in this can add up.
That said there are also season passes that allow you enter many races for an annual £300 price. If you’re going for that black headband this is the best option for you.
Now read on for all the fitness gear you need in your life to crush your next challenge
Best trail running shoes
While our round-up of the best running shoes (see below) is ideal if you mainly stick to the tarmac while training for a Tough Mudder, if you prefer to train in a comparable environment and head off-road then you'll need something a little tougher. Trail running shoes are designed to be durable, comfy and offer plenty of support, making them ideal for training and for the event itself. But, with so many pairs on the market, it can often be hard to find out which ones are perfect for you. We've taken the stress out of trail running shoe shopping and tested loads of pairs to see which is the best for you.
Read: Best trail running shoes
Best running shoes
Picking up a great pair of running shoes is essential to ensuring your Tough Mudder fitness regime goes to plan and we've tested a whole load of the best. Aside from making sure your feet are comfortable, a great pair of running trainers should offer support, let your feet breath and boast some extra nifty bits of tech to round things off. We've also got some top tips on choosing the right pair of shoes for your running style.
Read: Best running shoes
Best fitness tracker
Fitness bands are well and truly here and they're some of the best bits of kit you can pick up to start your new Tough Mudder fitness regime. From the likes of Jawbone, Fitbit and Misfit, fitness bands now cater for everyone, whether you're just looking to track your steps and sleep, or go a bit further and monitor your heart-rate too. What makes these even more mouth watering is the crashing prices, with some very capable trackers now costing less than £50.
Read: Best fitness tracker
Best base layer
Feeling the chill? If you're planning on keeping your healthy regime going throughout these cold and dark winter months then you'll need an awesome base layer.
There are plenty of ways to keep your core temperature where it should be for all kinds of sports and exercise, or indeed for just popping to the shops to buy brandy.
For the uninitiated, a base layer is exactly what it sounds like. It's the layer you wear first before you put on anything else and one that keeps you warm and soaks up your sweat.
Read: Best base layer
Best running headphones
While you won't be needing a pair of headphones during the Tough Mudder, in terms of preparing for one they are a welcome addition to your training tech. Yes, we know, you could stick with the buds that came bundled with your phone, but we all know that they're not very good. Instead, you should pick up a pair of dedicated 'phones, which won't fall out of your ears as soon as you start running. Many of these are resistant to sweat too, which is a must, for us anyway and they sound fantastic. Perfect for pumping out your handcrafted Tough Mudder playlist.
Best home multi-gyms
You'll need great all-round fitness to tackle a Tough Mudder, with reliable power in both your arms and legs crucial. A home multi-gym is the ideal piece of tech to achieve this, with these machines designed to help their user get ripped and stay that way. They're not ideal for everyone, as they tend to take up a LOT of room in the home (multi-gyms cover a number of muscle-sculpting bases), however, if you have the space they are ideal for Tough Mudder training and wowing your friends with a sculpted physique.
Read: Best home multi-gyms
Best weights for home
If you don't have enough room in your dwelling for a home gym system, then you should consider a top quality set of dumbbells. Tough Mudders require serious stamina, as well as toned and powerful muscles, so making sure your guns are in order should be high up on your agenda. Luckily, T3 has lifted the best and compiled a useful buying guide to ensure you get the right home weights for you.
Read: Best weights for home
Best sports sunglasses
If you're looking for the best sports sunglasses you've come to the right place. We've put our eyes on the line testing the very best shades money can buy.
Read: Best sports sunglasses
Best running watch
While fitness bands are great, sometimes you want a bit more information about your run, especially when you are training for a Tough Mudder. That's where a running watch comes in. Thanks to the addition of GPS, running watches offer much more accuracy than a band and can work independently of your smartphone, which is always a bonus. If you're really serious about tracking your stats and having the most accurate information available, a running watch is the way to go.
Read: Best running watch
Treadmills are great for the colder, darker months, letting you workout at home for your next Tough Mudder without heading out to the gym. They don't have to cost a lot either, although you can certainly spend big bucks if that's what you're looking for. These treadmills are high-tech, feature packed pieces of kit that'll ensure you have the healthiest start to 2017 possible.
Read: Best treadmills
Best fitness apps
There are thousands of app solutions to your fitness problems, and sorting through them can be a bit of a nightmare. Whether you're looking to lose weight, get a ripped six-pack, or simply make sure you are as healthy as possible for a Tough Mudder, this list rounds up the best on the market into one place.
Read: Best fitness apps