Our mates over at Tough Mudder Australia recently spoke to Gordon Rhodes, an obstacle racing junkie on some tips for first timers. His advice was so good that they decided to share it with everyone…and so we wanted to as well!
What gear? Do you need the name brands? Where to shop?
- Brand names? Yes and no. Certainly not necessary for your first run. Getting the RIGHT gear is the most important thing and you don’t have to pay a fortune. At a minimum simply AVOID cotton anything. It waterlogs, stretches, adding weight to you and chafe in places you’ll unlikely reach with the Savlon cream. Imagine the conversation post race asking your partner/best friend to help? No, me either! Get the wick away material from brands like Merrell (Polyester, Dri Fit etc) for your t-shirt, singlet, shorts, socks. Compression shorts/longs, compression singlet/t-shirt underneath highly recommended. Gloves worth considering. Sun block and a hat for the warmer months.
- There are plenty of gear tips online about clothing, shoes and hydration packs but for the first timer or rookie racer it can be confusing and potentially costly. Compression clothing is perfect for du Tough Mudder and options like Merrell and online are great options.
- That said, after my first event I was hooked but the memory of my old runners being water logged, weighing a ton and slipping over so many times made me want to buy a set of OCR appropriate shoes and a brand name was a must. Lightweight, cleat style soles and quick draining – perfect if you want to do more events comfortably and/or also if like me you want to push yourself a bit harder, Merrell shoes are hard to beat. Check them out in a bricks & mortar store for size then go online for a price check. Read the reviews online also.
Don’t let the obstacles beat you before you start! Youtube is your friend!
- There are so many obstacle racing feeds to help you get over walls, climb ropes, survive monkey bars. Practice at your local park or gym and go to du Tough Mudder with confidence.
Post Race tips – clean your gear
Whether it’s your first event or not the inevitable outcome is you’ll be muddy and in that post race euphoria you can overlook an important post-event job, cleaning your gear. Sure it’s the last thing you want to do as your muscles ache and you want to get home for a hot shower. From experience, taking ten minutes on the way home is time well spent compared to the lingering smell of wet muddy gear left for a few days or the mess it makes of your washing machine and the subsequent grief from the wife/partner/roomie. So here’s what to do:
- Rinse out what you can after the event and bag it all up in plastic shopping bags
- Pack in the car; handful of gold coins, small container dish washing liquid, old toothbrush & a plastic roller storage box (20L or bigger). Search out the nearest Car Lovers or similar style carwash before you leave.
- On the way home, drop into the carwash, and use the pressure gun (at low pressure, no need to squeeze the handle except for the soles of the shoes maybe) to wash and clean down your clothing, shoes etc. in the storage box. Unlikely to strike a cranky attending washing clothes instead of a car but if you do, give him/her a knowing look and point to that headband that you’re still wearing (head, neck, wrist). Respect!
– If you wear a sports watch, protect it from scratches by wearing a sweat band over it or a few strips of clear sticky tape.
– You don’t need those expensive artificial tasting gels; honey shots, Medjool dates, Banana chips etc. carried in a snap lock seal bag are both a natural and cheaper option. Double wrap with gladwrap or foil if you’re worried about water breaching the bag seal. Carry in elasticised running belt.
– If you haven’t a group to run with don’t be afraid to run alone. So many good people to chat and laugh with along the way.
– Unless you have a pre existing condition or worry about hydration and/or you plan to go hard and run all the way, I wouldn’t bother with carry a hydration pack or water bottle. Take time to hydrate at the stations around the course.
– If you have room in the boot, pack a small esky, some spare water bottles and a bag of cheap frozen peas so you have a pliable, simple ice pack if you need it. Also, an old elasticised bottom bed sheet to throw over your car seat to avoid bonus mud stains in the car.
– Don’t expect hot showers. Have a pack of baby wipes in the bag or car. Even if you didn’t chafe, you will likely have mud in unlikely places! If it’s too cold for the shower, have a few small towels (think bathmat size) that you can lightly wet for a birdbath type wash before you get into the car.
– Nothing tastes as good as that Pizza or burger after burning 1,000 + calories on the course. Bonus points scored if someone gives you an admiring look after they spot your Finisher t-shirt and speckles of leftover mud. Double bonus points also acknowledging the other people in Maccas wearing the same finisher shirt. You’ve just joined a special group that have finished a Tough Mudder.
– Age and fitness are no barriers. I did my first OCR at 47 and still going strong at 51. I spoke to a bloke at my first TM in the carpark at the end. He was 130kg (down from 160kg) and struggled. He would mix a bit of running with longer walking and rest when needed. He set himself a goal and made it. – Just do it. Finishing a Tough Mudder makes you proud and proud of those around you. Whether it’s one item on a bucket list, conquering a fear or simply the joy of finishing something bloody hard like this, I can guarantee you a nice boost of self-esteem in your accomplishment. Whatever you do, don’t withdraw if you have doubts.
Mudders, you can thank Gordon later!