Congratulations—you’ve taken on the Tough Mudder Challenge. The fun starts now…along with the preparation. But know this: The hardest step you’ll take in the race is the one that carries you over the starting line. It’s a leap of faith—faith in your training, and faith in yourself. Follow these 11 tips to toe the line with confidence:
1. Get off the couch and get training. No matter the distance you’re tackling—whether it’s a Tough Mudder 5K or a Tough Mudder Classic—committing to an event is a huge challenge. But your first step is easy: Just start your journey. Get off the couch and get going on some cardio. Whether you’re new to obstacle racing or just want to be better prepared, we’ve got your back with our free training plan.
2. Work on grip strength. Grip strength is key to crushing some of Tough Mudder’s most infamous obstacles—build up yours with these five grip-strengthening exercises.
3. Bring your ‘tude. The most important part of preparing for a Tough Mudder is your attitude—so put a big fat smile on your face.
4. Be an oversharer. You know that dude who Instagrams every. Single. Workout? Well, now it’s your turn to be that guy. Since you’ve signed up for a race, let everyone in on your training—and hashtag it up. Posting will keep you accountable and serve as a record of all the milestones you’ve passed en route to the starting line.
5. Make mud buds. Training doesn’t have to be a chore—bring your friends along for a sweaty happy hour. Like just about everything else in life, fitness is more fun with friends. Plus, when you know someone’s waiting for you at 6 am, you’ll be less likely to let them down.
6. Treat your workouts as dress rehearsals. Have you eaten it, drunk it, worn it, or run in it before? If not, don’t even think about trying it on race day. From your pre-workout meal to your shoes, everything you do at your Tough Mudder should feel comfortable and familiar.
7. Train your brain. Strength sessions, long runs, HIIT training—they’re all crucial for success on the big day. But tough workouts aren’t just great for your bod—they’ll also build the muscle between your ears. When you hit a rough patch in training, lean into it. The miles you logged in a driving rainstorm with soaking wet sneakers are the ones you’ll remember when you’re standing on the starting line.
8. Look out for #1. Whether you’re in the gym doing box jumps or logging miles on the road or trail, remember that your workout isn’t truly done until you’ve cooled down, stretched out, and gotten friendly with your foam roller. A few extra minutes every day can go a long way toward keeping you injury-free.
9. Eat like a champion. If your heart and your lungs are the engine that powers you, your stomach is the gas tank. Fill it with high-octane fuel: Lean protein, whole grains, and plenty of fluids. Try to get some protein within 30 minutes of finishing a workout—it builds muscle and promotes recovery. And on race day, get up a little earlier than normal so that you have at least 90 minutes to digest breakfast before the start.
10. Go to bed, already. This one’s easy: Get plenty of sleep. Crushing tough workouts and eating right are two key pieces of the puzzle—but for optimal performance, your body needs rest. While you’re sleeping, your body recovers from hard efforts, and prepares for the next day’s work.
11. Celebrate. When you cross the finish line, chances are you’ll be filthy, sweaty, exhausted, and ready for a cold one (yeah, we can help you with that). Bring a complete set of dry clothes to change into, and meet up with your team to toast your accomplishment.
Daphne Matalene is an NYC-based writer, editor, fitness coach, and two-time Boston marathon qualifier. Follow her on Instagram: @dmatalene