Tough Mudder Race “FAQ” Frequently Asked Questions from My Experience

  • SumoMe

Thanks for all the great feedback on my previous Tough Mudder Recommended Gear piece. I appreciate everyone who commented and emailed me. It means a lot especially since I was in your shoes and had no idea what to buy to be prepared and have fun doing my first Tough Mudder race in Seattle.

Based on the feedback and questions, I thought I would do a Frequently Asked Question “FAQ” that most of the folks on my team talked about, that people have asked me, and that I’ve read online.

Question:  How bad is the Chernobyl ice bath?

Answer:  I’ve trained for triathlons in Seattle, so I’m used to swimming in water as cold as the 50’s. Of course, there is no wetsuit here. I saw a gal in front of me who couldn’t do it and had to skip this. Chernobyl Ice Bath Tough Mudder

What worked for me is just jumping in to the waist, which wasn’t that bad (except for the boys crying out for help)! The I got to the wooden wall and put my hand under the water to know how much I had to get under it. 1-2-3 and I went for it!

I was a bit cold on the way out, but I was much more exhilarated to get wet and dirty since this was the 2nd obstacle. Not bad at all- I wish it was later when I was hotter though.

Question:  “Dude thanks alot! I am doing the TM in Kentucky in October and it will likely be very cold, especially after the ice pool! Any tips on keeping warm? Also when did you do the one in Seattle?”

Answer:  Dude, you’re welcome. I love the word “dude” btw :) I did the Seattle Tough Mudder on September 29, 2012. Seattle is pretty far north, so I was concerned about temperature as well. A lot of it depends on your start time. Since we were such a big group, our start time was around noon I believe.

Tough Mudder Cold Weather Race Conditions

When I got there, the temperature was probably between 55 – 66 degrees F (I pulled up the historic temps). I was debating on wearing a longer sleeve technical shirt like this Asics technical shirt.

But as I thought back to my past race experience as a runner and triathlete, I know that I tend to heat up. After some agonizing (not too long since I needed to use the restroom after hydrating on the way over), I decided to go with the shirt sleeve shirt.

That turned out to a GREAT decision. The first obstacle for us was crawling in the mud then followed by the Chernobyl ice bath. But with the adrenaline and constant running, I never felt too cold. In fact, I actually felt the opposite. So from my experience, when in doubt, go with less.

Question:  Is parking as bad as people make it out to be?

Answer:  Absolutely! We raced around noon, so we didn’t have the choicest spots, so we had to park farther away. In hindsight, that was great because we didn’t have to swim against the tide of all the incoming Tough Mudder racers. If I had to do it over again, I would get there early and park near the entrance and walk in. It was absolute chaos at TM Seattle, and I hope they can get it right this year.

Tough Mudder Glasses

Question:  Can I race Tough Mudder while wearing glasses?

Answer:  Not unless you are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sporting these bad boys when he was with the Laker. I actually didn’t see anyone wearing glasses nor goggles. In fact, my previous post talked about how I didn’t use mine.

The biggest issue is when they get muddy, which they will, how will you clean them. There will not be one crevice of your body that won’t house mud or particles for at least a week.

Question:  Can I race with contacts lens?

Answer:  YES. I wear gas permeable contact lens, which are amazingly susceptible to anything. I will have to admit that I was hobbling around a few times trying to get the grit out of my eye. Any RGP lens wearer knows it feels like someone stabbed you in the eye with an oyster shucker!

But I was still able to make it through. My fellow Tough Mudders with soft contact lenses had no such problem. One thing to potentially try if you wear hard contact lenses is to get a set of disposable just for race day.

Question:  I hear that one of the biggest reasons Tough Mudders don’t finish the race is because they’ve sprained their ankles. What can I do to prevent this?

Answer:  On race day, I saw a lot of people with sprained ankles who had to withdraw and not finish Tough Mudder, which is a tragedy after so much training. As someone who has sprained his ankles a lot playing basketball, I’m acutely aware that my ankles are weaker now.

One thing that I did to strengthen my ankles it to do more trail running which forces the tendons that stabilize to get stronger. It’s great because it’s a better workout than running on pavement. And it also simulates race day conditions.

Another thing is to get the proper set of running shoes. I got this highly rate pair which weren’t that expensive after doing exhaustive online reading, research, and reviews. I got these Montrail Men’s Sabino Trail Running Shoe for $65 on Amazon. They were much more rigid than my regular running shoes but also much grippier.

Finally, we had a guy on our team who was a physical therapist that taped up our ankles with ankle tape like this. It’s easy to do yourself too, so I would highly recommend it. Luckily, I made it through with no sprains. I wouldn’t race Tough Mudder or Spartan Race without taping my ankles.

Question:  Is there ample water and fuel support along the Tough Mudder course?

Answer:  I thought the support was adequate but not overwhelming like a well-run marathon or triathlon. We were in overcast Seattle, so it wasn’t that hot. I didn’t bring any water, but I brought my own Gu’s. It turned out to be fine for me, and I didn’t need to go potty at all, which would have been interesting since it’s like mud on mud.

If conditions are hot and humid, I would tag someone as the water mule to bring water and pass around the backpack over time. It can also be deftly refueled without too much mud in the bladder at the water station.

Question:  Should my significant other or family buy a ticket to come watch me get shocked during Tough Mudder and see how much of an idiot I am to pay someone to shock me? If so, will they be able to get some good photos?

Answer:  My wife went, and she really enjoyed it. Since the Tough Mudder course is more of a loop, she was centralized and saw me go through the majority of the obstacles. It’s not like a marathon or triathlon, where she would only get a glimpse at the start and finish.

She thought it was worth it. And if she ever wanted to do Tough Mudder, I would absolutely buy a ticket to be a spectator. Also, since it’s more casual than a marathon or tri, she can also be your water or gu mule if you so choose. Next time, I’ll ask her to bring some of that along with some baby wipes to clean off any equipment.

Question:  After watching this Tough Mudder video, I’m starting to have second thoughts? Should I really pay money to have someone do all this to me?

Answer:  Is the Pope Catholic? Does the bear poop in the woods? Of course! If you’re read this much and researched this much, you know you’re going to do it!

When else will you leave it all out on the course? It’s a great experience and creates an instant bond with other Tough Mudders. Even now, when I run and see someone wearing a TM shirt, we have a silent but knowing nod to each other.

As long as you train well and have a great attitude, you’ll love it! Just don’t watch this video and the guy in the red at the 0:23 mark!

Please comment share this post if you enjoyed it since I love hearing other people’s experiences on achieving things that require dedication and commitment. Also you can check out my other post on all the Tough Mudder gear I wore from head to toe and what I would definitely wear and wouldn’t.

Recommended Tough Mudder Gear and Best Equipment from my Tough Mudder race experience.


10 thoughts on “Tough Mudder Race “FAQ” Frequently Asked Questions from My Experience

    • I don’t remember a place to change clothes in private. There are just hoses that you can use to try to get as much mud out as possible. I would recommend a small towel, change of top, and trashbag (you can check all this in prior to the race). Then after you change, put the trashbag on your car seat and the towel on top of that to keep your car from getting muddied too. But by then, you probably won’t care too much and will think about it as a badge of honor. Good luck!

    • It will destroy you physically in a good way. A nice scar and mud around your crevices show grit and determination to your new overlord. Go forth and conquer!

  1. Thanks for the tips! I just completed the Tough Mudder Utah today 09-13-2014
    Here are some words from my experience…
    Asics knee pads were life savers. I ordered these after reading your blog.

    Arctic Enema
    I did run with a camelback and in the extra pouch I put 2 knockoff under armor long sleeve shirts from Walmart. When I got to the arctic enema obstacle I put them on over my shirt and that really helped! I was most anxious about this obstacle out of all of them. I did not jump in like most, but I quickly moved to the middle, and that is where I realized just how quickly your body is sapped of energy and strength in the ice water. Sheer adrenaline and the encouragement from all around me got me through Arctic Enema. This was my greatest psychological accomplishment of the day. Just saying.

    I successfully wore a pair of cheap sunglasses w/o any problems. When I got to a couple if the obstacles where I didn’t want to wear my camelback or sunglasses, I was able to put them off to the side. That worked out great!

    Cramps – I was suffering from really bad calf cramps from mile 4 to the finish. That was tough. I saw a lot of others in the same predicament throughout the race.

    Elecrtro-Shock – literally the last step of the race I got a direct hit that put me into the ground. In a sick way, that was awesome. If I didn’t get shocked hard at least once I would have felt that I missed out. Weird, but true.

    Taped Ankles – would have been a great idea. I rolled my right ankle pretty bad half way through. I was able to run through the discomfort, but maybe tape would have been a good solution.

    Thanks for your blog Mr. Niu, it was very helpful

    FYI. I did the Spartan Beast and I did find that more physically challenging, but the Tough Mudder was more psychologically challenging to me.

    On twitter and Instagram @kevinblast

    • @kevinblast, so great to hear that you loved the list. Sounds like you battled through it to completion – congratulations! If you have any other tips for fellow Tough Mudders, please let me know.

    • You’re very welcome. Please let me know if I’ve overlooked anything that you found helpful during your race.
      Happy Tough Muddering!

    • I totally get it about the chance for injury. I think ankle injuries are very prevalent. What I did before is tape up both of my ankles for increased stability. You could do that plus also add high tops or ankle braces before the race. Just remember to train for Tough Mudder like you’ll raise, so you won’t be surprised by blisters or discomfort.

      Good luck and finish strong!

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