There is a lot to be said about running a 12 mile obstacle race in sub-50 degree weather. While reviews of the race are upcoming and get into the gritty details, Nick and I decided this was a perfect time to discuss some of the lessons that were learned and reinforced during the Indiana Tough Mudder:
Pack A Bag
Pack a bag with post-race essentials: towel, change of clothes, nutrition, money, etc. For a list reminder of gear to bring, take a look at our Race Day Essentials Checklist. Making sure all of your gear fits into a small backpack helps speed up the gear check process, and makes your gear easy to carry to and from the race.
Leave plenty of time to get to the race. Plan to get to the event a full hour before your wave starts. This will leave time for parking (and parking traffic delays), check-in, gear check, shuttles to the start area (if parking is offsite) and any pre-race prep like bathroom stops. On another note, be sure to double-check the time zone. The Indiana Tough Mudder was in the Eastern time zone while our hotel was across the Illinois border in the Central time zone. We caught this, but many racers did not.
Test Your Gear
Train in your gear before racing with it. If you have read previous post, you would know that I normally don’t race with gloves. In 50 degree weather and extreme winds, there was no way I could avoid a pair of waterproof gloves. Near the end of the course, on the monkey bars obstacle, I suddenly realized that my gloves were too thick to keep a solid grip on the bars. My hands slipped further out of my wet gloves as I progressed from bar to bar and I eventually fell on the second to last hold.
Don’t slow down in deep mud. Deep mud is similar to quicksand… the longer you stay it, the further you sink in. Keep your legs churning as quickly as possible to move effortlessly across these pits, and keep your shoes from falling victim to the mud gods. Nick and I heard a few “Jesus on mud” quips as we passed struggling racers.
Obstacle course races, particularly long ones like the Tough Mudder are challenging events and usually throw teams for a loop due to a difference in physical and mental prowess. Nick and I raced with three other teammates (new to obstacle racing) with whom we had never trained or run with before. All we could do was take their word that they had gone through the proper preparation for the race. For the first five miles, Nick and I were able to hang back and help everyone over some of the more difficult obstacles like the walls. After mile five and a more than a few freezing trips through water, Nick and I had no choice but to leave the others behind and push onward. If we had not broken away to pick up the pace and warm ourselves up, we most likely would have had to pull out of the race due to extreme cold. Training together helps bring your team closer together and makes sure that your teammates are generally on the same level. If all else, it at least ensures that everyone understands the capabilities and goals of their teammates.