Planning and Training for World’s Toughest Mudder Success

World’s Toughest Mudder is a BIG THING. You can’t just show up and wing it. Success at WTM demands both careful planning and intelligent training, which is what this series will be about. Before submitting these articles, I thought I’d ask a guy I know what he considers to be the optimal way of approaching WTM. The good news is that his approach and mine were essentially the same. The bad news is that he was super concise, so I’m here to expand on it and flesh it out into usable tools and guidelines. Oh yeah, here’s what he said:

Think through every possible detail/angle carefully, practice it, then systematically kick ass. – Ryan Atkins


PLANNING


I am not one for clichés, but I can’t put it any better than these, so here is a short list of planning clichés :

  • If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” – a bunch of memes
  • No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” – Helmut von Moltke
  • “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson
  • Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

When your plans meet the real WTM, the real WTM wins. Few things go exactly as planned. Mistaken assumptions chow down on your asses. The most brilliant plan loses touch with reality, and if you’re not careful you’ll follow it down the crapper.

World's-Toughest-Mudder-Planning-Invaders

OK, what’s the deal, Dobos? To paraphrase Hamlet: “to plan or not to plan, that is the question.” Well, the answer is a qualified “yes.” DO absolutely definitely plan thoroughly, but DO NOT place absolute reliance on your plan. Accept that your beautiful plan will start falling apart at some point during the event, likely much sooner and in more and shittier ways than you had anticipated. Make sure you are mentally and physically prepared for “plan B”, “plan C”, or just going into survival mode. Reality will not yield to your plans, so you must adapt to the actual circumstances at hand.

World's-Toughest-Mudder-Plan

The first step to planning is to understand as much as possible of what will go down in Atlanta next year at WTM. Do all the obvious things: watch videos of past WTMs, read race reports, go to WTM groups and pages online, look over maps of past WTM courses, etc. That will give you a good idea of what challenges will be presented to you. The other big thing you need to understand is exactly what you will be bringing to the show. Where is your fitness now? What are your strengths and weaknesses? How much improvement can you realistically expect in those by the time Atlanta rolls around? (That last refers to TRAINING, which I’ll come to later in this series)

World's-Toughest-Mudder-2016-course-map

As you can see, it’s very, VERY easy to get hopelessly buried in details, so you need to draw a line in the sand somewhere. Try to group things together into categories of challenges that you need to overcome for success.

The challenges presented by WTM can be boiled down to 3 big ones:
1. dealing with the cold and wet conditions

2. being on your feet and moving for 24 hours

3. completing as many obstacles as efficiently as possible

I have cleverly triaged those challenges in order of importance: 1 is to survive, 2 is to complete, and 3 is to perform. Number 1 can end your race prematurely. It has done so time and again, to rookies and veterans and elite racers. It is the first thing you need to figure out how to deal with because without it the rest of your grand plans are just so much fantasy.

World's-Toughest-Mudder-Cold-Wet-Tired

WTM Challenge #1: The Horrible Laws of Thermodynamics

Regardless of where and when WTM is held, it’s always cold. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check and monitor the weather forecast as race-day approaches, but don’t let it lull you into a false sense of security. Every single person at WTM this year – racers AND crew – knew that the single biggest challenge, the #1 reason for DNFs, was going to be cold. Just like it was last year and the year before, and so onto into the mists of prehistory. However, knowing the problem is only half the problem. You need a solution or, preferably, several solutions.

Problem: you’re cold
Solution: dress warmly, with layers and stuff. No problem, right?

Well…not exactly. The other thing every single person knew was that you would be wet for pretty much the last 22 hours or so. Therefore that bitchin’ fleece hoodie you got yourself, far from keeping you warm, will be worse than useless once it’s soaked. That’s why you see almost everyone wearing wet-suits from late afternoon through to well after sunrise.

Problems: you’re cold and wet
Solution: get a wet-suit. Problem solved, right?

Nope. We need to understand the basics of heat transfer, and exactly what clothing can and cannot do for you. Time for a thought experiment…

World's-Toughest-Mudder-Campfire

 

Take 4 identical water bottles. Fill 2 of them with cold water, and 2 of them with hot water. Now go dig up the toastiest sleeping bag you have. Bring out that 800 fill -40C rated monster, the one that has you sweating inside of 12 seconds if you dare crawl into it in anything warmer than -20 conditions. If you don’t have one, borrow from a friend.

Place one cold water bottle inside the sleeping bag way down at the foot end of the bag. Place a hot bottle up near the head end of the bag. Place the other 2 bottles a fair distance apart on the floor outside the sleeping bag. BTW, this is happening in your living room, so the ambient temp is around 22C. Go re-watch 2 hours of your fave WTM coverage, then come back and check the temperatures of the water in the bottles. What do you think you’ll find?

<Spoiler Alert>Let’s start with the easy ones: outside the sleeping bag. Both of those should be pretty close to room temperature. Heat always travels from warmer to colder, so the hot bottle will have lost heat to the room, while the cold one will have absorbed heat from the room. Both bottles will be around 22C. Easy peasy. Now, what about the sleeping bag?

At first blush, it’s tempting to assume that the ones that were in the insanely warm sleeping bag would be warmed up. Sadly, first blush is dead wrong in this case. What you’d actually find is that the cold one stayed quite cold – much colder than room temperature – and the hot one stayed quite hot – much warmer than room temperature. This is because a sleeping bag is simply a thermal insulator. It neither heats nor cools, it simply insulates whatever is inside it from whatever is outside.

World's-Toughest-Mudder-Thermodynamics-Batman

Clothing, including wet-suits, are the same: they generate exactly 0 heat. None. Zilch. Bupkus. SFA. If you’re freezing and throw on a 20mm wet-suit with a dryrobe over top, it will NOT warm you up. At least, not quickly enough.

At this point, you may be asking “why wear anything at all?” Well, the reason wearing insulating clothing works is because your body is constantly generating heat. Even if you’re curled up in the fetal position in your crew tent, your body is still generating heat because it needs to keep things at around body temperature in order to function properly. In the above scenario, you will slowly warm up as the heat generated by your basal metabolic rate gets trapped inside the dryrobe/wet-suit combo until you eventually get toasty warm. You need to know how to speed this process up, so keep reading.

There are several ways to warm yourself up much faster. The most enjoyable one is called “shared body warmth”, and all I’ll say about it is that you had better know your crew very, very well. The most effective strategy when you are in your pit is to ingest something hot, like a bowl of hot oatmeal or steaming cups of coffee or soup. The next pit tactic is to pour hot (not scalding – be careful) liquid into your wetsuit. The most important way may be less obvious, but it is the most critical because you can do it throughout the event: MOVE.

World's-Toughest-Mudder-Sufferfests-Cold-Guy-at-Tough-Guy

The only way you can move is through your muscles doing work. Human physiology is laughably inefficient, and most of the feeble trickle of chemical energy that we manage to generate in order to move gets wasted as heat. This heat builds up until your core temperature starts to get too high, and your body starts dumping it by pumping blood (essentially like radiator fluid in this scenario) out to your skin and limbs. Your clothing traps some of this heat, creating a progressively warmer micro-environment right next to your body surface and voila: you warm up!

Your body knows this even if you don’t, and has come up with a fantastically inefficient pattern of muscle contractions to cope with cold stress. Inefficient at moving, but super-awesome at generating heat. It’s called shivering. Shivering is ok, but it’s exhausting and makes things like Operation hilariously impossible. Your goal is to spend muscular energy moving forward, not jittering madly in place, so work on moving forward as hard as you can. Conversely, if you know that you’ll be forced to go slowly, whether from exhaustion or injury, then dress more warmly.

Even with all of the above dialed in, there is still a big make-or-break challenge related to overcoming the wet coldness: the wetsuit. The next (much shorter) article will delve into the hows and whys and dos and don’ts of WTM wetsuits.

World's-Toughest-Mudder-Wetsuit-Crack-Memecenter.com

World’s Toughest Mudder 2017 – Part Two – Nolan Kombol


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Nolan Kombol is the Senior Director of Product at Tough Mudder. This means for everything World’s Toughest Mudder, the buck stops with him.

We welcome Nolan back to the show to talk about:

  • New obstacles for 2018 vs World’s Toughest 2017.
  • The slowwww rollout of the obstacles this year.
  • Cheating allegations.
  • The 2018 Toughest Series
  • Next Up for WTM – Atlanta!
  • More.

Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

Dirty Bird Energy Soap. Use ORM 15 for 15 percent off all products at DirtyBirdEnergy.com

Show Notes:

2018 Toughest Series.

Listen using the player below or the iTunes/Stitcher links at the top of this page. 

World’s Toughest Mudder 2017 Part One


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World's Toughest Mudder Deanna Blegg and Amanda Steidle

This is ORM’s 6th year of World’s Toughest Mudder podcast coverage!

In part one, live from the pit on Friday, we talk to 2016 Champ Trevor Cichosz, Tyler Nash, Allison Tai, and Logan Nagle.

We then have some Monday (post race) chats with Deanna Blegg, Amanda Steidle from Turbo Superfoods, Team US-Eh (Kristopher Mendoza, Austin Azar, Mark Woodpile Jones, and Miguel Medina), and your 2017 Female World’s Toughest Mudder Rea Kobl.

Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

Dirty Bird Energy Soap. Use ORM 15 for 15 percent off all products at DirtyBirdEnergy.com

Show Notes:

Final results from World’s Toughest Mudder 2017

Facebook Live Coverage

Listen using the player below or the iTunes/Stitcher links at the top of this page. 

This Will Be The Best World’s Toughest Mudder Ever.

The first World’s Toughest Mudder took place 6 years ago. Few in the world knew it was happening, and  a rare 800 some at the start line were prepared for what they would face.

The event was December 17, 2011 at Raceway Park, NJ.

Yep. December. In New Jersey.

worlds-toughest-mudder-2011

Preparation was such a mystery that most of those 800 some people froze when the sun went down. 700 plus went back to their tents, and never came back out. Junyong Pak and Juliana Sproles emerged as the first champions and a new era had been launched in OCR.

Each year since, Nolan Kombol and countless others from TMHQ have grown and evolved this event with creativity, heart, and innovation. Would you believe at one point there wasn’t a team category? Would you believe pit crews were once verbotten? What if I told you that penalties the first year meant standing in one place for several minutes? What about when arctic enema was the penalty for almost everything in 2012? Anyone remember the golden carabiner?

I’ve been thrilled to have had a front row seat at every event since 2012 as media and/or participant and I can tell you that this will be the most competitive and exciting race we have ever seen.

Call it a “What To Watch”. Call it a “Who’s Who”.

I call it “The Best WTM To Date”.

Let’s start with the men first. Also, please note the use of the word “contender” in the post is the “dictionary definition” and is not meant to be ironic.

MEN

 

Ryan Atkins and Jon Albon

Contenders

Jon Albon
Ryan Atkins
Robert Killian
Matthew Hanson
Trevor Cichosz

Any of these men could go 100 miles or more.

Let’s start with the best. Jon Albon and Ryan Atkins are two of the best ever in OCR, let alone WTM. Neither one has ever left WTM anywhere but first place. Atkins won solo in 2013 and 2014, then Atkins and Albon won as part of a 4 man team in 2015, and as a 2 man team last year. Just for good measure, Albon won UK Toughest earlier this year. It’s a coin toss on the win, but these vets are likely to go 1-2.

Trevor Cichosz (pronounced Psy-Kos), the reigning champ, worked his way up the podium ladder coming in 3rd in 2014, 2nd in 2015, and finally winning in 2016.

2015 Spartan Race Champ Robert Killian comes in after a strong year in OCR and hungry for another title. He had a disappointing first WTM in 2015, and came in 2nd as a team last year with 2015 Champ Chad Trammell.

Matthew Hanson, 4th in 2013, injured mid race 2014, and 75 miles last year. He could finally make his way onto the podium this year.

Dark Horses: Matthew Lister and Tyler Nash – Both men got 50 at this year’s Chicago Toughest. Luke “SkyRunner” Bosek – Experienced Ultra Marathoner, and impressive showing at Atlanta Toughest.

deanna-blegg world's toughest

WOMEN

Contenders

Deanna Blegg
Stef Bishop
April Dee
Suzanna Kraus
Morgan Mckay
Alex “CH1K0R1TA” Roudanya
Allison Tai
Lindsay Webster

Even without 3 time champ Amelia Boone (out to injury), this is easily the deepest women’s field in history.

I’ll list them alphabetically for organization sake. The truth is any one of these women could be on the podium come brunch time.

Deanna Blegg burst on the scene at the 2012 WTM finishing 2nd to Amelia and 3rd overall to only Amelia and Pak. We quickly learned she was an HIV survivor and were even more impressed with her accomplishment. 2013 she won World’s Toughest Mudder for the women and only 6 men finished ahead of her cementing her WTM legacy. 2014 she nearly led her Australian team to victory, but finished 2nd behind the Hunter McIntyre led ,Spartan Wolfpack. 2015 she finished 3rd as an individual. Last year she sat out as she was diagnosed with breast cancer. (But, as Will from World’s Toughest Podcast always reminds us, she did invent BleggMitts in the meantime).

Although some knew her from past endurance events, Stef Bishop essentially came out of nowhere to win last year’s event for the women. She’s raced in several Toughest events this year but did not get on the podium. Even still, you can never count out a reigning champion.

April Dee is the “Bulldog Of OCR”. She’s got a mean bark AND a mean bite. She’s the best talker in the game, this side of Hunter McIntyre and knows one gear, called Hammer Down. This has led to two 4th place finishes in 2015 and 2016, losing momentum in the later miles. Perhaps she can put together the plan to last the full 24, and finally get on the podium.

Susanne Krauss finished 2nd in 2016 for the women. She also won this year’s, Europe Toughest Mudder. We admittedly know very little about this athlete, other than she is one to watch.

Morgan Mckay. With her infectious smile and laugh, along with her ridiculous, yet dead on accurate, comic strips of the WTM course each year, Morgan is a fan favorite. After several disappointing years in Jersey and Vegas, she finally cracked the podium with a 3rd place effort last year. She also finished 4th in two of the Toughest events this year.

CH1K0R1TA has been running Spartan Races for years, but the TM community has only been learning about her this season. We watched her battle the other top women through airings on CBS of the Toughest events. She went on to finish 3rd in the Toughest total mileage rankings with 110 total miles.

Allison Tai’s best WTM finish to date was a 2nd place in 2014, doing no better since. However, if you’ve watched the TM Competitive Series this year, you have seen her dominate with 5 podiums and 2 first places. It would not be surprising to see her at any spot on the podium come Sunday.

Allison Tai World's Toughest Mudder

 

Lindsay Webster. If you are reading this, you know who she is. She’s never gone 24 at any event, and yet no one will be surprised if she takes home the gold.

Dark horses: KC Northrup, Adriane Alvord, Rea Kolbl. KC and Adriane have been playing in the OCR endurance space for a minute or two. Rea has never done anything like this event, but many have run the farthest in their lives on WTM weekend, and it’s OCR where anything can happen.

2 Person Team

With TMHQ pulling the prize money on this category late in the game, the only “2 man”that really stands out is Team Merrell – Wesley “Dr. Red Tights” Kerr and Evan “Strength and Speed” Perperis. Both men got 90 miles last year and finished in 7th and 8th place.

The other team being bandied around is known as  “Community First” with Joel Forsyth and Nicholas Allmond. Both have faired well in the Toughest Series this year.

 

World's Toughest Mudder 2013

 

4 Person (Country/Continent) Competition

Lots of hubbub in recent weeks from the aforementioned TMHQ switcheroo, should make for some strong competition in this first ever relay category.

Canada – Before there was Ryan and Lindsay, there was Claude and Marco. Claude Godbout and Marco Bedard head up a strong team that includes Benjamin Morin-Boucher. (**This just in, learning Claude is injured and pit only, still a solid team.)

USA – Chad “World’s Toughest Dentist” Trammel, Ryan “Woodsy” Woods, Brian “Lewinksi” Gowisiki, Glenn “Pronounced Race” Racz.

Goat Tough/North America with Kris Mendoza and Austin Azar, Mark Jones, Miguel Medina. These guys have the biggest names and the biggest target on their backs.

Whoever Germany sends. (most likely 2 teams). The Germans have been sending strong teams for a few years now. Last year their teams got 90 and 80 miles. Easy money to say at least one team makes this year’s podium.

So there you go. Agree, debate, call me an idiot for not including you/your cousin/your gf/whatever.

I’ll see you in the desert, doing what I always do. Staying up all night, soaking in as much as possible, and watching history be made.

14 hours plus of live coverage on the ToughMudder Live Facebook page.

Additional coverage on Obstacle Racing Media social channels starting tomorrow.

 

Kill Cliff: The New On Course Recovery Drink for Tough Mudder

TOUGH MUDDER AND KILL CLIFF PARTNER TO BRING CLEAN ENDURANCE AND RECOVERY SPORTS DRINKS TO 2018 – 2019 US EVENTS

KILL CLIFF Equips Athletes With Extended Energy And Necessary Recovery To Dominate World Class Obstacles As The Official Sports Drink Brand For Tough Mudder And Serve As Presenting Sponsor Of Tough Mudder X Series

ATLANTA/BROOKLYN– Nov. 7, 2017 — Tough Mudder, Inc. and KILL CLIFF have partnered to provide KILL CLIFF’s clean label endurance and recovery sports beverages for the 2018 and 2019 US event seasons in its capacity as the official sports drink brand for Tough Mudder and presenting sponsor of the Tough Mudder X Series. Tough Mudder X is the one-mile race with 10 obstacles and 10 workout zones that tests competitors from across multiple disciplines to determine the fittest and fastest athletes in the world. The series debuted this summer on CBS with millions watching its first World Championship.

At all Tough Mudder events, KILL CLIFF will provide its ENDURE clean endurance sports drinks on the course during events to help participants experience longer energy maintenance as they push harder through the course. KILL CLIFF recovery drinks will be handed out at the finish line to provide electrolytes and assist in participants’ post-event clean recovery and hydration. KILL CLIFF will leverage its relationship with gyms around the country to further the Tough Mudder brand through its product offerings.

The partnership will kick off at this year’s World’s Toughest Mudder at Lake Las Vegas on Nov. 11-12, 2017. World’s Toughest Mudder is considered the most extreme, insane, imposing, pulse-pounding, heart-stopping 24-hour obstacle course race on the planet that is viewed by millions globally via Livestream and also on CBS. KILL CLIFF will be the official sponsor of one of the event’s most infamous obstacles, The Cliff, a 35-foot cliff jump into the chilly waters of Lake Las Vegas that begins at midnight on Nov. 12. KILL CLIFF will also have its own TEAM KILL CLIFF tackling the course.

“Partnering with Tough Mudder as the official clean sports drinks sponsor is a great next step for both of our brands, as well as the dedicated warriors of the Tough Mudder,” said KILL CLIFF CEO Joe Driscoll. “We are getting our drinks into the hands of hundreds of thousands of athletes who are challenging their fitness, while Tough Mudder is partnering with a cool brand that is disrupting the artificial, sugar-filled sports drink category. We are incredibly excited about being the presenting sponsor of Tough Mudder X race series, which is a fast, exciting event that is a great crossover for many of our CrossFit athletes and gyms.”

“KILL CLIFF’s Kill the Quit attitude, clean label products and brand awareness in the HIIT category makes them a great partner fit that will not only elevate the Tough Mudder brand to a broader audience and new category of athlete but enable us to offer Mudder Nation great hydration and recovery drinks for everyone to be at their best as they tackle Tough Mudder’s demanding courses together, ” commented Rich Abend, VP, Global Partnerships, Tough Mudder. “We are also proud to name KILL CLIFF as the first presenting sponsor of TMX, which has garnered significant interest from the industry since its’ debut this past summer on television.”

KILL CLIFF drinks have gained popularity in HIIT gyms across the country, and the brand has led in the emerging clean sports drink categories at places like Whole Foods and Amazon. The KILL CLIFF brand has been on a rapid growth trajectory with a loyal and passionate following of the world’s toughest athletes.

About KILL CLIFF:

Founded and created by a Navy SEAL with the spirit of giving back to the community, KILL CLIFF® makes clean sports beverage products. KILL CLIFF Recovery Drinks deliver clean recovery, providing the hydration and nutrients without all the junk so many beverages have today. Headquartered in Atlanta, the KILL CLIFF team includes civilians and accomplished military veterans, and is absolutely committed to serving and supporting the Navy SEAL community. KILL CLIFF honors the dedication and sacrifice made by these warriors and their families by donating a portion of the proceeds through their Official Partnership with the Navy SEAL Foundation. KILL THE QUIT™. Visit KillCliff.com and follow KILL CLIFF on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram @killcliff.

About Tough Mudder:

Founded in 2010 with the launch of the Tough Mudder obstacle course event series, Tough Mudder Inc. has become a leading global sports, active lifestyle and media brand. With more than 3 million participants, the company hosts more than 130 non-competitive (Mini Mudder; Tough Mudder 5K, Tough Mudder Half, and Tough Mudder Full) and competitive (Tougher, Toughest, Tough Mudder X and World’s Toughest Mudder) events annually in 11 countries including China, Dubai, Indonesia, and Australia through its partnerships with IMG, Seroja and Sports Media and Entertainment 360 (SME360). The company’s content arm provides the more than millions of engaged online brand enthusiasts with fitness, nutrition, and wellness content delivered daily across social and digital platforms. Tough Mudder broadcast, OTT and Live Stream programming can be seen worldwide through partnerships with CBS Sports, Facebook, Sky Sports, The CW Network and ESPN Media Distribution. Other sponsorship and distribution partners include Merrell, Amazon, KILL CLIFF, Jeep, Aflac, Guinness, Vega, Samsung, Olympus, Lucozade Sport, Nexcare, For Goodness Shakes, Bosch, TREK, Head & Shoulders, L’Oreal Men Expert, Käserei Loose, Snapchat and Live Stream.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

FOR TOUGH MUDDER 
Angela Alfano
(703) 447-5629
Angela.Alfano@ToughMudder.com

FOR KILL CLIFF
Reina Porritt
(651) 789-1272
reina@kohnstamm.com

Robert Zimmerman
(917) 543-1046
Rob@zimstrategies.com

Zoe Chazen


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Zoe Chazen Toughest Mudder

Meet Zoe Chazen, a rising college junior who lives in New York. You most likely saw her on the  recently aired Toughest Mudder Northeast that took place near Philadelphia back in May. Although she did run (and get 50 miles) at World’s Toughest Mudder in Vegas last year, she is super new to our scene.

We talk about how she came to decide to run and place in Philly, and then do it again at America’s Toughest Mudder Midwest in Chicago 4 days ago. We learn about her training, or lack there of, and what really happened with her and Chikorita at The Mud Mile.

Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

Human Octane – Demolish barriers with f#cking awesome OCR apparel.

Savage Race : New obstacles, new locations, new syndicate medal. Check them out at Savage Race.com

Show Notes:

Toughest Midwest Stats

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