Top 10 Reasons I Run the Tough Mudder (and why you should too). Part 1 of 2

Spartan Poconos – September 2011

Everywhere I turn these days there’s a promotion for a new race. There are glow in the dark 5K’szombie runs  (the only reason I’m not doing the zombie run is because I’ll be in attending a friend’s wedding that weekend), and of course, mud runs. Mud races/runs are great.  So far I have done two (a 4 mile Spartan Sprint in the Mountains of Pensilvania and an 11 mile Tough Mudder through the backwoods of Georgia), and on Saturday September 8th I’ll be doing the Mid Atlantic Tough Mudder in nearby Frederick Maryland.  I am really excited about Saturday’s race because I won’t have to get on a plane or drive for hours to get there, the race is one hour outside of DC. While I may use the terms run and race interchagedly, the Tough Mudder is not a race, races are timed. The tough mudder is a team oriented challenge where the focus is more about working together than getting a personal best time.  When asked why I like mud races, I usually come up with a sentence or two about them being fun, or a challenge, but what I really want to say is, “why aren’t you doing one?”  That said, I can think of no better time to share some of the reasons I have grown to love mud runs, but particularily, the Tough Mudder:

1.  Camaraderie

Tough Mudder Georgia – February 2012

From the basketball court to the boardroom, nothing brings people together like working on a tough task.  Throughout the Mudder, you are called to work with your team and even strangers to get through the course.  By day’s end, whether you know their name or not, every other person present with that orange headband (other races give finisher’s medals, the Tough Mudder gives you an orange headband) is someone you’re connected to.  On a personal note, going through the Mudder with my boy D Wat last go around was great. Not just because he’s an ox, but because as adults, our lives have taken us in different directions. To be able to carve out some time to hang out in such a unique way, made it all the more memorable.

This go round, I’ve recruited a team of 7. We even have an online group where we share training tips, talk trash, and organize workouts.  During those workouts I have met 4 other mudders who will be participating in the upcoming race.

2. The race is outside

Contrary to popular belief, I do not hate the gym. There was a time when I did, I thought everyone there was fitter than me (very possible) and that they were looking down at me (possible too, but unlikely) for being out of shape. The reason why I’ll never love the gym is because it’s inside. I’m an outdoor person. As an adult, it seems like the only time I’m outdoors is when I’m in route (nowadays even much of my time in transit is underground). As a kid, outdoors was the destination. I played, swam, and camped.. all outdoors. The idea that I can spend time outside running, jumping, sloshing, climbing and yes, even getting the occasional electric shock, appeals to me.

3. The Carrot

When we were kids, ability had purpose. I practiced jumping because I wanted to touch to top of the doorsill, I worked on running fast to beat Joey and become the fastest kid on my block,  and I learned how to throw a curve because as a lefty, I knew it could be my secret weapon. These days, most people work out because they want to look better in their clothes. Then of course, there are the preventative reasons: I don’t wanna have a stroke/heart attack/diabetes/… There’s nothing wrong with either approach, in fact I admit I aspire to both, but it seems that as adults, we’ve lowered the bar.  My boy Kobina (the jerk who I talked about in my last post) is healthy. I have no doubt that he’s stronger than me and I would not be surprised to find out that he has a 6-pack (we cool.. but we ain’t that cool).  Kob refuses to do a mudder. Kob does graphic design, video production and editing for a living. Throughout the majority of his day he probably never lifts anything heavier than the mouse on his computer or whatever beverage he’s drinking, but he can and readily will tell you exactly how much he can bench press and curl. Why lift weights if you are not going to do something that requires more strength? I may be missing it, but I just don’t see the point. The Tough Mudder is my litmus test. It rewards my hard work and punishes me for my shortcomings. The last Tough Mudder I ran, I finished but not before cramping in both calves and both quads. Sure, I want to  drop my BMI and look better in a suit, but the promise I made to myself as I limped across that finish line in nowhereville Georgia is the reason why I’ve worked so hard this go-round.  I just can’t get that kind of motivation at a gym.

4. Mud work

I’m a klutz, always have been. In Jr. High, secretly, my goal was to make it to the end of the day without falling down -most days I failed. If you were able to dig up anyone I was friends with back then, they would tell you that they formerly called me “scrub” because I was always tripping and falling (note: the calling me names era ended on the first day in high school when I vowed and followed through on my promise to punch the first person in the face that called me out of my name. Suffice it to say the punch wasn’t nearly the knockout blow I’d planned and prepared for all summer, but I got the message across and the name-calling stopped).

These days I am a little better.  I still fall from time to time but not nearly as much.  Truth be told, I like the idea of getting dirty to get something accomplished. I have never been afraid of hard work and I relish mud races as opportunities, to show that I’m not afraid to climb, crawl, jump, swim, get shocked and even sometimes fall for the sake of competition.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I run with a group on Sundays in an effort to prepare for the Tough Mudder. Every Sunday inclement weather threatens to soak our runs, but up until a few days ago, the trail has never been worse than a few mud puddles and a downed tree or two.  Our biggest threat is generally racing the sunset so we don’t have to run in the dark. With yesterday being our final run leading up to the Tough Mudder, it was appropriate that we got caught opted to run in the rain. By the time we finished, we’d run our toughest run of the summer, faster than our regular pace, through the rain and in the dark. You don’t train for a Tough Mudder on a treadmill. 

For any woman out there who may think that mud runs are for guys only, check out my buddy and fellow blogger’s account of her first mud run.

That’s it for today, check back tomorrow for reasons 6-10. In the mean time, check out Saturdays course map and obstacle list below!

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