I am in a lot of OCR and running groups on facebook. And when it comes to lapped ultras, such as Toughest Mudder, RunStock, Equinox24, ThunderRun and Nuclear Oblivion to name but a few, the same questions keep popping up from those that are running it for the first time.
Having now run two Europe’s Toughest Mudder events (as well as a number of other endurance lapped ultras) I wanted to give new runners the benefit of my “experience” as one of those “middle of the pack” guys with my own targets in mind.
My “Seven top tips” for your first Toughest Mudder should apply to pretty much any endurance lapped race (I have yet to do a point to point ultra – they don’t interest me) whether it is pure running or obstacle course racing. So without any further ado…
My seven top tips
- Know what to take (and not to take) – my first ever Toughest Mudder, I took everything – “just in case” about 80% of the stuff I just didn’t use, or even take out of the bag. There are a ton of “kit lists” out there, but concentrate on you and what will make you comfortable over the 12 hour race. Last year, I got everything in one duffle bag and still thought I had taken too much. The clean pair of socks and new shoes at 6am were great for the first 100m, but really did help with the motivation
- Take (at least) two of the essentials – You don’t want to be disqualified from the race just because your batteries have died, or you have lost your one and only head torch. With Toughest Mudder, there is a mandatory kit list that usually includes Glow sticks and head torches. It would be wise to take at least 2 (or more) of these items as well as spare batteries!
- Have a target / schedule – Last year, my aim was 30 miles within the 8 hour time limit. With that in mind, I had a schedule which broke down the 8 hours into 6. Whatever your target is, it’s worth looking at your schedule. I did not take into account the “sprint” lap nor the additional 30 minutes at the end. This helped ensure I was always in front of the schedule.
- Take all the food – Food makes me happy! I already knew what food I was going to take and when, it was then just down to what else I wanted to take for motivation. For the record, for each lap I had: Flatbread with peanut & coconut butter and Project E2 energy drink in the pit. I also had a Project E2 gel at half way around the course. For the extras, I had chocolate, haribos, flapjacks and coca cola. For me, sweet stuff makes me happy. And it was the motivation I needed to keep moving on. As with your running schedule, have an eating schedule and make sure you’re taking in enough calories. I read a lot of people who carry on without pitting after their “sprint lap”. To be honest, I think this is a big mistake (unless they’re an elite and going for the top 5 spots). A 5 mile Toughest Mudder lap takes around 800-1000 calories so not replenishing those is madness. THERE IS ALWAYS TIME TO EAT
- Front opening wet suit – my first time I had a back opening wet suit and quickly found out how fiddly this was. Spend the extra little bit of cash and get a front opening wet suit. You will thank me in the long run. For the record my shorty wet suit is the Gul Code Zero and was around £60. Obviously, wet suit isn’t needed for trail running and the level of warmth required by individuals differs. I got away with a shorty, others didnt need a wet suit at all, whilst others needed a full on 5mm. Personally, if you have never done one, you should at least take neoprene vest and shorts and strip off if required
- Pit quickly – Again, sticking to a schedule, you will know how much time you have, but spending too much time in the pit can really slow you down and reduce your motivation to get out again. Have all your kit ready to get in and out as quickly as possible. A PIT CREW here is invaluable. They can help get your food ready for you and have anything else prepped so you can be in and out fast.
- MOST races have an easy first km which means, you could take some food and walk the first part (just to get moving). If Europe’s Toughest Mudder is a similar course, the first 700m is flat and easy – great for eating and walking!
- Keep going – You don’t have to run the whole distance! Walk for a bit, walk for a full lap. But keep going. It’s dangerous to stop as you may not have the motivation to get going again. Every step forward is a positive movement. *Note – I’m not one of those people that say “crawl if you must” it’s just silly to carry on if you’re injured. But a lot of running is with the heart, not the head and walking helps bring things back into perspective.
So that’s my list. Do you have any more? What is your target this year? I’m not at ETM this year as it clashes with Nuclear Oblivion. I have my eye on Rustock and another Ultra, but my Half Marathon target of sub 1:30 and general running health will dictate this.
Check out my Europes Toughest Mudder articles here:
Lessons learned from Europes Toughest Mudder 2017
Europes Toughest Mudder 2018 So that’s my list. Do you have any more? What is your target this year? I’m not at ETM this year as it clashes with Nuclear Oblivion. I have my eye on Rustock and another Ultra, but my Half Marathon target of sub 1:30 and general running health will dictate this.
Check out my Europes Toughest Mudder articles here:
Lessons learned from Europes Toughest Mudder 2017 and Europes Toughest Mudder 2018