Tough Mudder pro gives tips on conquering a mud run

Competitors race through a Tough Mudder. Credit: Getty Images
Competitors race through a Tough Mudder.
Credit: Getty Images

Mud runs are pretty much the real-world version of “The Hunger Games,” minus the whole killing each other thing. You’ve got to be fast. You’ve got to think on your feet. You’ve got to overcome any challenge thrown your way. And just like Katniss and co. readied themselves for battle, you too will have to train your body (and your mind!) if you strive to take on an obstacle race this year (and you’re brave enough to accept the fact that you might get some gross stuff in your mouth).

We got tips for both first-timers and experienced pros from Nolan Kombol, head designer of Tough Mudder. For the sake of this story, just call him Plutarch Heavensbee.

For the newbies

Believe that you can do it: “That’s the first challenge,” he says. “I’ve met so many people who said, ‘I was scared to try a Tough Mudder.’ But they came into it and they said, ‘You know, I lost 40 pounds to do this thing and then I did it. And I was so happy with myself.’ It’s about committing to it and then planning goals for yourself.”

Prepare — to an extent: You can do lifts, pull-ups, squats and other traditional moves in or out of the gym, “but there are gonna be certain parts of the courts that stretch you and pull you in different ways,” he says. Start your training a month or two before the event with body weight exercises — those will prep you the best, he says. “It’s about being prepared for a different kind of movement.”

Hydrate: Your belly should have a little food in it right before your race, but you want to start hydrating well in advance. “I think that’s a common mistake among athletes, realizing that this starts the day before,” he says.

Be comfy: You’re gonna get cold, and you’re gonna get wet, so be prepared with durable shorts, an undershirt (he likes Under Armour), sunscreen (lots of it, SPF 30 or above) and shoes that’ll weather any terrain. “A lot of first timers don’t realize just how long you’ll be running through water, through mud, through gravel, through all sorts of tough terrain that actually impacts your shoes,” he says. “It’s nothing like a normal run.”

 

For the experienced

Tackle the obstacles that gave you hell: Lose your way on the funky monkey last time? You’re not alone: Roughly 60 percent of first-timers flail on their slanted monkey bar set over a pit of water. “I think for repeat Mudders, the good thing is to set personal challenges for yourself,” he says. For example, you might aim to five rungs instead of three rungs this time.

Decide to help others: You’ve already kicked butt on this course, why not help someone new to it? Since it’s not a timed event, you can spare a few minutes to lend a hand. “It’s about spending not one minute on top of a wall helping the person behind you up — it’s about staying up there for five minutes and helping 20 people up,” he says. Got a competitive streak? Again, make it a game for yourself. “I’ll have little goals for myself, like I’ll say, ‘Today I’m going to try to get four people up Everest. I’m going to try to get 10 people over Berlin Wall.’ A lot of it is about embracing the camaraderie spirit of what the event is.”

 

Train your mind

We asked Navy SEAL Mark Divine, author of “8 Weeks to Sealift,” for some tips on the mentally tough aspects of racing.

Use your breath to stay positive

“When the going gets tough, that’s when the doubt and the negativity starts to creep in,” Divine says. “And that destroys your performance. So we control our mind with our breathing. We keep a nice, deep, controlled breathing pattern. And that breathing pattern allows us to focus our mind. And we also wanna have a positive inner dialogue that runs through our mind while we’re in the act of the challenge. We push out any negativity or feelings of weakness or ‘I can’t.’ Keep that positive attitude going.”

Picture it
“See yourself achieving the end result that you seek. See it in your mind’s eye so you start to develop the belief in yourself that it’s possible and that you can do it.”

Be realistic about goals
“Set realistic and short-term goals,” he says. “In preparation for an event like a mud run, the goals are going to be tied toward developing realistic training. And then during the event to goals have to become really short, literally obstacle by obstacle. Don’t worry about duration, don’t worry about the totality of the challenge if you’re facing it for the first time. Literally just go through, one obstacle at a time. And enjoy it, find some pleasure and some humor in the crazy things they ask you to do. Just take it one block at a time.”

Upcoming races

NYC
Mudderella: May 10
NYC Zombie Run for Your Lives: May 10
Jersey City Challenge Race: May 17
Civilian Military Combine: Sept. 27
Tough Mudder: Oct. 11, 12

Boston
Boston Muckfest: April 26
MudMatch: May 17
Tough Mudder: May 31, June 1
Spartan Race: June 28 (Mohegan Sun)
Civilian Military Combine: June 21
The Dirty Dash: July 26
Spartan Race’s Spartan Sprint: Aug. 9
Mudderella (women-only): Sept. 6

Philly
Philadelphia Muckfest: May 31
Spartan Race: July 12
Civilian Military Combine: May 17 (Poconos)

Train at these NYC classes

As One’s first-ever training camp is a weekend retreat in Fishkill, New York, from April 26-27. Through simulated obstacle courses, specialty workouts and ropes courses, you’ll get all the prep you need to tackle a race head-on. Bonus: Join the As One/Flywheel team for the upcoming Civilian Military Combine on May 17 to get discounts on classes and race entry. $300, email kaley@as1effect.com to learn more.

Exceed (1477 Third Ave., 212-481-5300) is set up like an indoor playground for grown-ups, so it makes sense that they’d harness their surroundings for obstacle course classes ($32). They meet Mondays at 8 p.m. and Wednesdays at 6:30 a.m.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Humans should thank ancient Scottish fish fossils for…

By Kate KellandLONDON (Reuters) - Scientists studying fossils have discovered that the intimate act of sexual intercourse used by humans was pioneered by ancient armored…

National

Comet makes rare close pass by Mars as…

By Irene KlotzNEW YORK (Reuters) - A comet from the outer reaches of the solar system on Sunday made a rare, close pass by Mars…

Local

NYPD: Man found hanging in Brooklyn subway station

A man was found hanging inside a Brooklyn subway station on Saturday morning, police said. The man, who still had not been identified on Sunday,…

Local

Only church destroyed in 9/11 set to rebuild

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the only house of worship destroyed during the terrorist attacks on 9/11, held a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday to start the…

Television

9 things we learned about 'Hannibal' Season 3…

There’s plenty of fall television to be excited about, but the crowd inside the Paley Center for Media on Saturday night only wanted one thing:…

Going Out

Watch home cooks try to impress Tom Colicchio…

Is what you’re making for dinner tonight good enough to serve “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio? That’s the standard that some of the city’s best…

Television

‘Homeland’ recap: Season 4, Episode 4 ‘Iron in…

Carrie Mathison, what are you doing?! Don’t seduce virgins! More on that later: Lots of crazy stuff went down on the "Iron in the Fire" ep of "Homeland"!

Movies

Box office: Brad Pitt kills Nazis, also Nicholas…

This weekend, Brad Pitt's second WWII movie, "Fury," rolled into the lead, while the latest Nicholas Sparks movie, "The Best of Me," got little love.

College

College football AP Top 25 rankings: Mississippi State…

College football AP Top 25 rankings: Mississippi State holds off FSU

NHL

NHL Power Rankings: Sharks, Canadiens, Blackhawks out in…

NHL Power Rankings: Sharks, Canadiens, Blackhawks out in front

NFL

DeMarco Murray carries Cowboys to win over Giants

The Giants knew they would need to stop DeMarco Murray if they were going to leave Dallas with a win. It didn't matter.

NFL

Jets trade for wide receiver Percy Harvin: Report

According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, the Jets have sent a conditional draft pick to the Seahawks for wide receiver Percy Harvin.

Wellbeing

Gabby Bernstein: The 3 questions I always get

For the last decade, I’ve been writing self-help books and preaching the Gospel of Gabby to audiences throughout the world. And no matter what country…

Wellbeing

Health News: 5K for lung cancer, free yoga,…

Get some fresh air to benefit lung cancer research On Friday, the first-ever Brooklyn Free to Breathe Run/Walk will take place Oct. 26 at Cadman Plaza…

Education

Can these two college students come up with…

Two Atlanta college students say they have an idea for a simple test that would quickly diagnosis the Ebola virus - and it all started…

Education

Chances are, the average college student isn't taking…

As a bachelor’s degree becomes more expensive than ever, one new report is criticizing colleges for the content of those pricey educations. The American Council…