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Tough Mudder Tips: Forget Fear, Whining and Inhibition

Sprinting through the electroshock wasn't as bad as I had expected...but it still stung! (Photo courtesy of AeroShot Energy)

500,000 worldwide participants. 12 miles. 22 death-defying obstacles designed by British Special Forces to test your physical strength, stamina and mental toughness. Fun or just darn crazy? After tackling my biggest fears in this year's Tri-Sate Tough Mudder, I would have to say a little of both. I’m claustrophobic, afraid of heights and, like most people, don’t do well in the cold but I pledged to overcome these anxieties with my three fellow AeroShot teammates so I did—10,000 volts of electricity, mud, ice water and all.

I'm officially a proud survivor and even considering signing up for another adventure race—preferably during a summer in the future—now that I’ve scrubbed off all traces of mud. It’s funny how your perception can change for the better after a hot shower and rest! Is a Tough Mudder a fit feat you have had your eye on? Save up for the hefty entrance fee (it’s worth it!), sign that waiver and vow to conquer your fears in support of the Wounded Warrior Project. Here are a few tips to completing the course so you, too, will be on your way to earning that orange headband and beer at the finish line.

1. Endurance-Ready. Team Aero was fortunate enough to have recruited former champion boxer and fitness expert, Michael Olajide, Jr., as their trainer. In between his toning sessions with some of our favorite Victoria’s Secret models, Michael had us sparring, jump roping and overall strengthening our way to Tough Mudder-status. Check out his at-home training regimen here or give the Tough Mudder Boot Camp Training a try. Thanks to AeroShot Energy, we were also outfitted with the new air-based caffeine supplements, which gave us the boost we needed during our training and event. New to adventure races? Take your training to the trails and incorporate hill work into your cardio routine.

The post-race, muddy shot of Team AeroShot, made up of Blood Sweat and Cheers' Erin Kelly, myself, The Roosevelt's Stephen Gebhardt and SHAPE Magazine's Abby Lerner. (Photo courtesy of AeroShot Energy).

2. Rally a team. Although fellow participants are more than willing to lend a hand, banding together a hardcore team that has your back helps. Plus, boosting your besties over 12-foot walls makes things all the more fun! Our small group of four was ideal, in terms of sticking together and facing the grueling challenges head on. Camaraderie plays an integral part in the race so be sure to bring your positive, “give it your best shot” attitude and strive to be a team player.

3. It’s not a “race.” Yes, you read that right—time doesn’t matter. As the event’s official website says, “We sincerely believe that worrying too much about your time takes away from some of the most important parts of Tough Mudder. Namely, camaraderie and teamwork.” Since time is on your side, be sure to stay fueled and hydrated along the course, taking advantage of the water/First Aid stations. It’s an arduous three hours of non-stop action so tucking an energy pick-me-up like GU in a pocket is a great idea. Also, there’s no shame in skipping an obstacle you don’t feel comfortable with. Your personal safety is the number one priority! The point is to feel accomplished at the end and if that means walking around the terrifying “Trench Warfare,” like I did, so be it.

4. Don’t dress to impress. Weather conditions may vary but one thing is for sure, comfort can make or break you wading through water and trekking through muck. In other words, save showing off that 6-pack for another time, unless you want to go home with a scraped up belly. As I learned the hard way with my heavy hoodie, less is more. If chilly temps are in the forecast, layer tight-fitted cold gear that will dry and wick away sweat quickly. Long sleeves, sweatbands (to pull over your elbows), weight-training gloves and leggings will prevent injuries while crawling, climbing, etc. You will most likely toss your shoes after crossing the finish line so sport a pair of older sneaks that sill have tread for grip and tie them extra tight or the mud will swallow them up! To avoid losing any diamonds in the roughage, leave your valuables at home.

5. Mudder Must-Haves: All races have a bag drop so be sure to pack post-race essentials alongside your adventure gear, photo ID and confirmation email for registration. Combat the elements event day with Chapstick and moisturizer with SPF. Extra water, nutrition, towel, a change of clothing/shoes and a hat—to hide muddy, tangled hair—are all highly recommended, too. Soothe any stinging wounds with Band Aids, Neosporin and retail therapy (after-party food, drinks and swag).

Now tell us: Have you competed in a Tough Mudder or other obstacle event? What tips do you have to share?