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Welcome to part 2 of the preparation. You can find Part 1, The Arrival, here. Just fill in the new comers, my team, the Swamp Asses, and I have participated in three Tough Mudder events so far; Tri-State, Austin, and Atlanta. We have made a few changes in preparation and attire along the way, and I will now document them in the hopes of making the next Tough Mudder as fun and enjoyable for everyone else. In this post, I will break down the essentials for what to wear on game day. Also, please post a comment with questions and we'll be more than happy to answer them. Shall we begin?
I highly recommend that you wear shorts. It may be chilly, but nothing dries off faster than a pair of light shorts. Compression pants work well underneath your shorts as well. Viktor wore a pair compression pants under his shorts for Tri-State, which helped him to stay warm and kept his knees free of cuts. I however, prefer not to wear them. I felt much more freedom as a ran and climbed, and I also didn’t have to worry about them filling up with mud. Your knees will get bruised as you crawl through the tunnels, and as you climb the walls, but you will feel much more comfortable during the 10 miles of running.
I prefer to wear a compression, long sleeve shirt underneath a standard T-Shirt. The primary purpose of this shirt is to save your arms. You will be climbing and crawling through almost every obstacle, and these sleeves will make it feel so much better. Be careful, though. You won’t want to wear a cotton undershirt, because you will get wet. And a cotton shirt will only hold the water for longer. You want a shirt that will dry quicker so that you can keep warm and not have to worry about getting cold. You might be wondering why I don’t suggest wearing the cold-gear undershirt. The reason is that you will be running, a lot. There will be times where you will run for a couple miles without another obstacle, or water. Now imagine having to run a few miles, in the sun, wearing an extra thick undershirt. Personally, it is more important to me to dry off and not have to worry about overheating or having to throw away a shirt.
Even if you decide not to wear an undershirt, you will definitely want to wear one that dried quickly. It can get extremely cold in the water, and you want to get rid of that immediately. And please, don’t wear a shirt that you expect to get clean again. This is a mud run, and anything you wear will get muddy. Extremely muddy. Be prepared for it to always be muddy.
There are groups of people who choose not to wear a shirt. I respect this, and have considered it myself. However, there is one obstacle that has deterred me from this philosophy. We Mudders know this as “Shock Therapy“
Need I say more?
The shoes are easily the most important piece of your uniform. It is difficult to choose a good shoe because they too will get extremely muddy. This is made apparent by the mountain of shoes collected at the end of the event. So what shoes should you wear? For our first event, two of us chose to try out the Vibram FiveFinger Shoes. In particular, the KSOs. We chose the KSOs because they were recommended for running off road, and for water use. We purchased them, and one of us, Viktor, actually trained for and participated in them. His biggest complaint was traction. As I ran straight up the mud hills in my brand new New Balance shoes, he slipped as if running on ice. He has since chosen to not run in them and hasn’t looked back. Vibram makes fivefinger shoes with much better traction than the KSOs, which may work a lot better. But the second issue he had with them is that mud still gets in to them. Now you are stuck running for miles with mud and sand finding its way between your toes. Which becomes extremely difficult to clean out because these shoes are form fitting. My recommendation? A nice pair of clearance running shoes from Modell’s or Dick’s. Like I said before, I ran up the side of a mud hill like it was grass, which you can see in the Tri-State video. You also can not beat the comfort of a new pair of shoes. I have washed and reused that same pair of sneakers for every event. Other people have run in throw-away sneakers only to have them actually fall apart during the race. It is obviously your call, but I liked the comfort and grip that my new pair of shoes provided.
Before every event I tell myself that I will buy a pair of gloves. Also before every event, I forget to buy a pair of gloves and run without them. In fact, no one on our team has worn gloves since Tri-State. The big reason to wear gloves is for the rope obstacles and berlin walls. It’s tough to say if they are absolutely necessary for these. I have wanted them on a few, and not needed them on others. What I can suggest is that if you decide to wear gloves, find a way to carry them when you do not need them; preferably pockets. I wore gloves for Tri-State and threw them immediately after exiting the water. They were way to cold to continue wearing and I had no way to carry them. I have also noticed that gloves will not help you on the monkey bars. You will notice when you get to them that there is a pile of discarded gloves right at the beginning. You will also notice that anyone that attempts the monkey bars with gloves on inevitably falls in. This is likely due to the fact that your gloves will be soaked and therefor will not be able to maintain any grip. So if you wish to use them, wear pockets.
Most of you will be joining as a team. I’m also sure you will want to finish as a team. I suggest you find a way to identify yourselves from the rest of the herd. We wore matching shirts for two events, and it made it much easier to spot each other. I saw a few teams wearing matching arm bands which we may try in the next event. It just saves you time after each obstacle.
That is all I can think of for now. Please, please, please comment below with questions and suggestions. I will answer as many as I can before Saturday. Also, subscribe and look out for the tips and tricks for the actual event containing actual first person footage of each obstacle. See you Saturday!!