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

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.