Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Day 220 - World's Toughest Mudder - What I Learned

In this blog, I will detail what I felt worked and didn't work for me personally at the World's Toughest Mudder event. I tried my best to prepare for this event, but there were many things that I simply had no idea how to prepare for, I ended up learning through experience. Below is a list of things that worked and didn't work for me.

What Worked

5mm Wetsuit - I am actually going to split this one. I have also included this in the "didn't work" category below, so I will explain for both. The 5mm full-body wetsuit worked quite well at keeping me warm in the cold water and the cold temperatures of the day. It did exactly what it was supposed to do by letting in enough water to hold the temperature against my body. For the swimming obstacles, I could definitely feel some cold water seeping in at certain points in the suit, but that water would warm quickly enough that I didn't lose too much body heat.

Strength Training - My strength training, in my opinion, was a perfect fit for this competition. I included a lot of upper body dynamic strength training (P90X2). This included a lot of core training and instability training to improve the durability and coordination of my shoulders, etc. Also included in my training, which I personally feel helped tremendously, was my pullup strength. There are a number of obstacles that required strength to pull myself up onto, and I never felt like I was lacking in that department. If my legs had held up a bit better, I personally think that my upper body would've been good for at least another 2 laps!

Standard Running Shoes - I debated which category to put this into, so I will explain why. First of all, I purchased a pair of Vibram Five Finger "Flow" for this event in particular. I had heard that they were a great shoe for cold water activities. Unfortunately, due to the wetsuit and the design of my shoes, my ankles were exposed, and the Vibrams were quite thin in material, so I decided last minute to go with my plan 'b', which was my standard running shoes. I had 2 pairs, so I used one pair for each lap that I did. Yes they let in the cold water. Yes, they got extremely wet. Having said that, they gave me more coverage on my feet and I felt as though they drained the water rather quickly. Also, with just a little bit of running, my circulating blood was able to warm my feet back up rather quickly after each water obstacle.

Wool Socks - I actually read this suggestion from someone else on a Facebook group. I decided to give the wool socks a shot. They were able to keep my feet warm, but didn't absorb too much of the water that I was in, not to mention I only ended up with 1 blister by the end of the race.

What Didn't Work

5mm Wetsuit - I got so incredibly overheated during my first lap on the course. It was a fairly warm November day and the sun was shining, so even 15 minutes into the race, I was cooking in this thing. Believe it or not, I was actually looking forward to jumping in the cold water obstacles as it helped cool me down a bit. In hindsight, I believe this may have been a bit of my downfall as I think I ended up being quite dehydrated towards the end of my first lap, and my calves started to cramp up on me...BIG time. I think a better solution (in similar weather conditions), would be to have a thinner wetsuit during the day, and keep a 5 or 6mm wetsuit for later in the day/night when the temperature drops.

Distance Running - Leading up to the event, I feel I ran too often, in too short of distances. The longest I have ever run prior to World's Toughest Mudder was a half marathon (21km). If I was to do this again next year, rather than running 2-3 times per week at varying distances, I will run probably once per week, but double or even triple the distances that my training runs consisted of this time around. These runs can be as slow as humanly possible if necessary, but the main focus will be on getting my body used to covering these types of distances.

Diet/Hydration - I was pretty nervous the morning of the event. I get the nervous gut, which makes my appetite essentially disappear. I need to force myself to eat, and eat properly. I learned at the event from listening to other competitors that not only do you need to eat, but eat certain things. It is a given that bananas help with cramping muscles, but you also need to consume salty foods, especially when competing as long as you are in an event like this. I actually saw a fellow competitor who had his tent near mine with about 5 pizza boxes stacked in his tent!

Quote of the day:
"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."
~ Mahatma Gandhi

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