Drew Stephens

Tough Mudder Mid-Atlantic 2012

After not doing Tough Mudder since 2010, I signed up for the Mid-Atlantic event this year. Here’s my advice for folks looking for tips before running.

Over the past few years I’ve exercised almost exclusively in Vibram FiveFingers mainly because I feel so much more stable when running & jumping. Since switching to minimalist street shoes for everyday wear (Merrell Trail Gloves and New Balance Minimus) my knees, hips, and back seem happier. Last time I did Tough Mudder, I wore some old cross-trainer style tennis shoes, but by this point I’ve gotten rid of all the thick-soled tennis shoes I once had. I ended up wearing my New Balance MT20s for the run and they worked very well. Clearning them after the race was just a few minutes of hosing them off outside and then tossing them in the washing machine.

I wore some Mechanix gloves (the basic velcro cuff model) the first time I did Tough Mudder. This time I brought some along but chose not to wear them. There are only a couple of obstacles for which you might want them, and I don’t think those are sufficiently abrasive or splintery to extra mudweight you carry in gloves. Focus on wearing as little clothing as possible—the first time you hit a mud pit your shirt & shorts carry a lot of it with you.

Training is another big question that people have. Mine is pretty much the same as previously: I do CrossFit 2-3 times a week and 1-2 days a week of Olympic lifting. In the 6 months prior to doing Tough Mudder I went on a couple of ~3.5 mile runs. The only other running I did was the occasional CrossFit WOD that involved a 400 or 800 meter run. I think that pretty well drives home my admonition that you don’t need to run a lot to be a competent runner and perform well in endurance running events.

Having said that, this Tough Mudder was the same as last—85% of the people walk the majority of the event; another 10% run between half of the obstacles. Running the whole way easily puts you in the top 5% of participants. Aside from being well prepared physically and highly self motivated, the best way to run the whole way is to do it with a group of friends.