Let me be upfront with you: the Tough Mudder is not my thing. But, for 20,000 people more daring and exciting than me, it’s their thing to run through a challenging 16+ km obstacle course in Whistler’s Olympic Park. Modern Mix Vancouver has taken the opportunity to interview three past participants of the Tough Mudder in Whistler and asked them for their tips for “surviving” this physical and mental challenge.
First of all, a bit of info about who we chatted with:
- Allison Tai – was a competitive runner and ironman triathlete before getting hit by a truck in 2006 and breaking her back, pelvis and arm. After half a year in a full body cast, she fought her way back to fitness and back onto the podium in running and obstacle course racing events such as Tough Mudder.
- Ben Frisby – a young professional who recently moved from Vancouver to Prince George, is known for his highly competitive nature that has propelled his involvement in a variety of challenges. Over the last year he has trained for and participated in Tough Mudder, the World’s Toughest Mudder, and the BMO marathon. Most recently, Ben cycled from Vancouver to Toronto during the winter to raise funds and awareness for the Movember Fund in ‘Mo Ride across Canada’ garnering national and international attention.
- Steve Frankard – well, Steve is my boyfriend. Can’t say I wasn’t nervous about him participating in this dangerous course but he signed up anyway with his co-workers, completed the course, and lived to tell the tale. Steve likes to wear his Tough Mudder souvenir t-shirt to hot yoga class and his orange headband as a badge of honour.
Without further ado, here are Modern Mix Vancouver’s Top 10 tips to help you prepare for this year’s Tough Mudder in Whistler on June 21 and 22:
- Research: Familiarize yourself with the Tough Mudder obstacles so you know what challenges to expect. In the weeks leading up to Tough Mudder, Steve browsed online through all the obstacle photos and description. I did some research myself and was particularly freaked out by the fiery wall of flame runners had to jump over into a pool of ice water.
- Find a Good Team: The Tough Mudder is designed so it’s practically impossible to finish on your own. In fact, over 80% of participants register in teams. Find a small group of friends to sign up with and support each other along the way.
- Train: Training for the Tough Mudder is half the “fun” – make training apart of your weekly routine leading up to the race. You should be able to hold your own body weight up while hanging, jump and land softly in a squat position, crawl, climb and run or walk for ten miles.
- Dress for Success: Avoid cotton and other material that soak up water. Ben wears spandex – the tighter the better.
- Wear Proper Footwear: Trail shoes are Ben’s recommended pick for footwear because of the Whistler terrain, but running shoes will do. Avoid Vibrams! According to Alison, she made that mistake for her first obstacle race and her toes rammed into the end of the boxes until her nails came off and her feet froze – ouch!!
- Accessorize: Gloves, goggles and accessories are a matter of hot debate in the Tough Mudder world. Alison tried wearing goggles but they ended up getting too muddy so she couldn’t see.
- Prepare Mentally: According to Steve, many of these challenges are mentally daunting – like jumping into a pool of ice water. You just have to stop thinking and go for it! As Allison advises, “you can’t choose what’s coming around the corner, but you can choose how you react to it.“
- Fuel & Hydrate: Alison took an energy bar with her and broke it into two halves and others take sports gel or chews. These small items can be carried in a simple waist pouch, and water is available at hydration stations situated around the course.
- No Pain, No Gain: If the Tough Mudder was easy, there wouldn’t be so much pride in completing the challenge. Without a doubt, your body is going to hurt at the end of the race. Steve and his team limped for a week after the race. But the pride and joy of finishing the “toughest obstacle course in the world” far outweighed the temporary aches.
- Focus on Finishing: The goal for participants is not to win a medal or compete against time, but simply to finish. On average, only 78% successfully complete the event – will you be one of them?
Registration is now open for the 2014 Tough Mudder in Whistler. For more information, visit toughmudder.com.