Guest post by Ben Tatar (www.criticalbench.com)
Part 1— What Is The Tough Mudder
Tough Mudder is labeled “The Toughest Event on the Planet.” Tough Mudder is almost a half marathon that includes 28 obstacles. One of the reasons why Tough Mudder is so hard is because it doesn’t matter if you’re a runner or a strength athlete, as one of your weaknesses will be exposed.
Runners are going to need lots of upper body strength to get through 28 grueling obstacles which they aren’t built for. As for very strong people, they will have to do a lot of running (which involves lots of slow twitch fibers,) that doesn’t work in favor of their muscle fiber make up.
Tough Mudder also has challenging obstacles that tackles mainstream fears such as jumping off planks, (the fear of heights,) electric shock therapy, (feels like you’re getting punched in the back by Ray Lewis,) running through fire, (we saw people on the course complain about this,) going under water in pools of of ice,(which is uncomfortable and can make you sick,) and going through small dark underground tunnels and many other similiar yet crazy Tough Mudder extravaganzas.
Part 2— Tough Mudder vs the Warrior Dash
I did the Warrior Dash last summer. The Warrior Dash is a 3.5 mile run that has lots of obstacles. The Warrior Dash is marketed as a really tough event because for the average person, the Warrior Dash is very tough. When people finish the Warrior Dash, they wear T-Shirts that say “I SURVIVED THE WARRIOR DASH.” The Warrior Dash is pretty mainstream and it’s something that the Average Jane or Average Joe can pretend to be tough off of to people who don’t know better.
I did the Warrior Dash, and I did Tough Mudder. Tough Mudder was THOUSANDS of times harder than the Warrior Dash. In my eyes, The Warrior Dash was just a party with costumes and a fun dash through obstacles. Tough Mudder on the other hand was like “torture entertainment!” Some people assume that “Tough Mudder is probably like doing the Warrior Dash 4 times,” but in reality it was much harder than that because every extra mile you go in the Tough Mudder Event, you’re beat up that much more. In the Warrior Dash at mile 3 you’re finishing, and you’re feeling really good. As with Tough Mudder, at mile 3, you’re just getting started! Then each mile takes that much more life out of you. Tough Mudder really does test your mental grit.
I remember doing the Warrior Dash and during the Warrior Dash I relaxed during the first mile, then during mile 2 and 3 I passed thousands of people as I was never passed even once! This made me believe that Tough Mudder would just be another joke like the Warrior Dash was, boy was I wrong.
Part 3— Perception vs Reality
Before Tough Mudder started, I was very cocky. I didn’t really practice 9 mile runs or anything, I was just like “I’m the Tatar Monster, there isn’t anything I can’t handle, and bring it on!” I was like “there are people who dont look like long distance runners finishing this, and there are people who are a lot older than me finishing this, so whatever. This is just like going to an amusmenet park.” These were all misconceptions that I had. The truth is, just because someone doesn’t look like a runner doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing super long distance runs every week!
Then again, when I did the Warrior Dash, there were people who looked like runners and I passed and beat thousands of them. Therefore, you can’t judge a book by its cover, and you have to depend on your own training in contrast to the event. If youre not running a half marathon at least twice a week, or if you haven’t been weight training your whole life, Tough Mudder is no joke.
In fact there are THOUSANDS of competitors on Tough Mudder day who don’t finish the Tough Mudder Challenge. You know, thousands of people go into Tough Mudder saying “I can run 12 miles, and Im serious enough to do these obstacles,” but the numbers show that over 20% of the people who think they will complete Tough Mudder, don’t complete it.
Part 4—The Beginning
When I did Tough Mudder, I felt happy just for taking on a badass challenge. I was actually relieved psychologically during the event because I knew the hype of doing tough mudder was over and the challenge had begun. During the event, I always remembered my dad’s message “Always leave some fuel in your tank.” However, I must admit that since I wasn’t running on a consistent basis, my legs were a bit sore after 2 miles.. Which was nuts because as my legs got sore only 2 miles into the run, I knew I had 10 miles to go. hahaha.
Part 5— Getting Hurt
Around mile 7, I went to the ground as I popped my calf muscle after lots of running and sprinting up a mudhill. I was like “Okay, I have a popped calf muscle, and I have another 5 miles to go!” I was like “TIME OUT,” and I stopped some people, where I took a gel pack. It felt like my calf muscle ripped off my socket, but like in the NFL, you massage it a bit, take a gel pack, and the sharp pain fades. Then I remember at mile 9 doing the same thing to my hamstring! I got a sharp pain, where two ladies ended up stretching me. (Showing some tough Mudder Camaraderie.) I kept going though, and despite my physical pain, I still felt happy inside (I was smiling,) because I knew that the Tatar Monster could handle this, that he could handle any physical challenge as long as he was conscious.
Along the way, I did see other fit people getting hurt, screaming they couldn’t continue. I would look at them, and be like “my hamstring is pulled and so is my calf muscle, but it’s fun” I would go..”GET INTO THE PAIN, in Pain there is GLORY!”
Part 6—- The Obstacles
One of my favorite parts about the Tough Mudder challenge was that no matter how much pain I thought I was feeling physically, I could always kick the obstacles ass! There were like 30 monkey bars, and lots of people couldn’t make it past two of them. I would storm through obstacles like the monkey bars with ease. Even at mile 11, where my calf was cramping and my hamstring felt like it had a knife inside, I remember having to go up that ramp that is seen in the video below and stacks of hay. I just remember blocking the pain out, going off adrenaline, and smashing it! I was able to embrace all of my adversities into excitement. Completing all the obstacles well despite pain, would always keep me smiling through everything.
Part 7—– The Finish Line
At the finish line my teammates Mike Westerdal and Chris were happy drinking beers. They were celebrating pretty hardcore. They had trained much more than I did for this. They worked hard for this and celebrated hard. I remember finishing and the finish line kind of surprised me… I was pretty beat up and I was like “I’m done?” For me, after you go so far, youre expecting such events to never end and they do end. I felt like I was in a car wreck, but I was also ready to keep going because for me personally, when youre going so far, you never think you’re going to just stop until you die.
When I was going that far, I was no longer think in reality, you think of making friends with pain, conquering obstacles no matter what, and then when all the craziness just stops, youre just kind of shocked. Even Championship Pro Athletes often say, “We worked so hard this year, and we won the Championship, Although we have won the championship, in our minds, it’s like we are getting ready for the next series, and i’m surprised this series is over.” Tim Thomas, the goalie of the Boston Bruins stated after he won the Stanley Cup last year “It still hasn’t kicked in, if I’m completely honest,” Thomas said. “I can’t believe it’s over. We’ve had our battle meter up so high for so long; it feels like we’re moving onto the next series or something.” You know, I felt like I was ready for the next mile, just in a more beat up form than my previous mile.
When I did finish though, I loaded up on a protein shake, ate some Burgers, and then my mindset was back into reality again
Part 8—- Tough Mudder Quote
Mike Westerdal told me that I was probably the only contestant to finish Tough Mudder who wasn’t practicing long distance runs.
I conquered an event that has a label of being “the toughest event on the planet,” just through my own guts, persistence to fight guts, and toughness. Through the physical intensity of it all, I felt glory after every mile and obstacle during the event..
I heard some marathon runners say that Tough Mudder was harder than marathons because they struggled with the obstacles, and the obstacles took them out of rhythm. For me, the obstacles were a nice distraction from the running, and made me feel glory between each each obstacle. They made the event entertaining.
Part 9—-My Advice For Others
Tough Mudder was a day of pain, glory, entertainment, and camaraderie! You can’t anticipate what will happen before Tough Mudder starts until you do it. There is one thiing we know though, Tough Mudder is a challenging MYSTERY, but as long as you stay strong and complete it, youre one of few who have made tough mudder HISTORY!
If you think you’re ready for Tough Mudder, I suggest you bringing 3 gel packers, drinking lots of water to prevent cramping, and having enough nutrients before the event. A lot of it is nutrition as well. Most of all get ready for an epic challenge with friends and let the games begin!
Part 10— Looking back at Tough Mudder–
I was glad that I completed Tough Mudder. It was a very challenging ride, but I will always have my glory and pride for doing it.
…If you want to get out of your comfort zone, and prove you are tough in all areas, give tough mudder a try. Only the strong survive.