Some might argue that the longer the race, the harder it is. But Toughest Mudder seems to have hit the sweet spot at the 8-hour mark—it's short enough where you're able to push yourself really hard, but at the same time it can feel like you're out on the course (usually overnight) FOREVER. So how do you train and prepare for this epic event? Here are a few tips for tackling TOUGHEST.
TRAINING FOR TOUGHEST MUDDER
1. Consistency is key. Going out an doing one really hard workout isn't going to help you much. You're better off training 5-6 days a week, even if it's just for 45 minutes. On the weekends, work in a longer run. Some intervals and speed can be great to keep things interesting.
2. Prep. I like doing a "prep" run or race 3-4 weeks before my goal event. This should be 40-75% the length of your Toughest race. This will give you the confidence to tackle the Toughest event.
3. Taper. Taper your workouts the week of the event by reducing your volume by 30-40%. Eat normally. But remember: This isn't an excuse to skip all your workouts and stay on the couch. Take off the Thursday or Friday before the event, but not both.
GEAR FOR TOUGHEST MUDDER
1. Test your gear beforehand. You'll usually want to bring something that you plan to race in (thin neoprene, or just a shirt and tights), but always bring a backup plan, in case it's colder than you planned, or in case you bonk and have to slow down. You best source of heat is your own body and once you slow, you'll get cold. Having something like a 2-3mm wetsuit to put on can save your race.
2. Get the right footwear. Get some grippy shoes with good cushion. Then use gaiters to keep debris out. You'll pick up a lot of little stones going through Mud Mile, so any protection from that will be a blessing.
3. Get a headlamp. Buy the expensive "lithium" batteries. And buy some backups. Expect to change your batteries once, halfway through the night. Do this to keep your light running brightest. Tie your headlamp to your bib, so you don't lose it. Tie your blinker to your headlamp. Bring backups of both!
FOOD FOR TOUGHEST MUDDER
1. Test-run your race-day food. This means, doing efforts of at least 3 hours at a similar pace to your race pace, and eating/drinking during it. Stay away from anything that upsets your stomach. Candied ginger helps my stomach if it's getting upset. Tums can help too.
2. Limit your "heavy" foods leading up to the event. I find eating a "breakfast" around 6pm is a good way to prepare for the race. After that, I just snack on bananas and oatmeal until the race starts.
3. Eat EVERY lap. This is especially important in the first few laps, even if you don't feel hungry. Eat anyway. Your food intake should be like the slow drop from an IV. Keep it going.
MENTAL TIPS FOR TOUGHEST MUDDER
1. Be fresh. The mental side is the most important, so try to be fresh and relaxed coming into the event.
2. Visualize. Look at the course map. and visualize when you will drink, when you will have to push (a few hard obstacles in a row??) and when you can relax a bit (long straight stretch?)
3. Think positive. You've trained, you've prepared and you REALLY want to challenge yourself at Toughest Mudder. You got this! Now go do it.