Confessions from a Personal Trainer: Surviving World’s Toughest Mudder 2015

Where every Tuesday: I confess.

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Confession: I did it. I peed in my wetsuit repeatedly for over 16 hours. Jumped off a 35 foot cliff jump six times, and sustained my energy with miniature peanut butter Snickers.

I can’t express enough gratitude for all the support you have given me around my participation/competition in World’s Toughest Mudder. It truly was a life changing day for me. I have thought a lot about what I want to write. I’m working on a play by play write up over on fb if you want to read about how the event worked, what happened, and what the obstacles were like.

But for the purpose of True Confession Tuesday, I want to talk about the 10 things World’s Toughest Mudder taught me.

  1. Everything is scarier in your mind. The anticipation of the unknown can shake you to the core and make you more nervous. I was a ball of nerves from the time the flight touched down in Vegas, to the start line, and even through the first two laps. But once I ran the course and done each obstacle (or penalty) once, my nerves calmed down. If you are worried about something in the future, I promise you it’s worse in the anticipation phase. Knowledge is power.
  2. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” This quote is so very true. It is easy to get sucked into the every day routine of life. But jumping off a cliff at midnight, hauling my body around the course for 24 hours, and pushing farther than I thought I could was outside my comfort zone. And I learned something really amazing- I can do it and I did it. Which gives me more power emotionally to know I can do more things in my every day life.
  3. Recovery is critical. Many people said to us – “you’re training too hard.” When in reality, they didn’t see the behind the scenes recovery. On weekends where we had a big 24 hour work out from Friday-Sunday morning, we did not work out again until Tuesday afternoon at 4pm. That meant we had 48 hours of recovery. I am convinced this was one of the biggest factors in our success. Recovery is critical in every day life. Take a moment to stop, relax, not do a work out, take a detox bath, or sleep in. Your body will thank you.
  4. Preparation is key. We started dreaming about going to World’s last year when we went to spectate at Lake Las Vegas. That gave us one full year to train. People would ask “What are you doing to train? Are you doing anything different?” The answer is no. Consistently we strength trained 3x/week, ran 1-2x/week, rain hills/sprints 1x/week, and did our one big work out per month. You don’t have to do anything extreme, but you have to prepare, and for us, preparation for the event came from a year of consistent training.
  5. Your mind is so powerful. I asked Jessie several times the day or two before the event “What are we going to wear for our first lap?” She looked at me funny and asked “I don’t know, we’ll figure it out later.” You see, the important thing for me, was visualization. To calm my nerves, I would visualize the start line, running the race, everything down to what I would be wearing. If you are nervous about something start to visualize yourself doing it. Even act it out if you need to.
  6. Community. I am asked a lot why I travel to so many Tough Mudders. “Isn’t it just a race?” No. It is not just a race at all. Tough Mudder started with a focus on teamwork and camaraderie and that is even stronger today. We went to World’s easily knowing 40-50 people as friends that we had seen over the years at various events. Knowing they were there, waving to them on the course, giving them a hug at 3am, and being involved in an event with your community is invaluable. I encourage you to find your “tribe” your community, your “people.” We are meant to be social beings and connect with people. I heard the other day that loneliness is similar to smoking a pack a day on your health. Go out and find those crazy people like you. “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?” YES. YES I WOULD AND I DID.
  7. It’s ok to cry. I cried once. It was sometime at day break Sunday morning and I am laying in a tube with water rushing down onto my face and my upper body strength has totally given out. It’s ok to cry when you’re frustrated. But I only cried for a couple minutes, gathered my composure, and then continued to put one foot in front of the other.
  8. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. I truly believe we got to our goal of 50 miles because we paced ourselves. We ran where we could in the first 5 laps and then we walked the rest of the time. But this was no leisurely walk, it was a power walk with a purpose. The race was 24 (ended up being 25.5 hours for us) and there was no need to rush anything.I think a lot of people burned out their bodies because they pushed too hard, too early, and too much. It was also very easy to tell myself “one foot in front of the other.” If we could bring more of that into life, we would be calmer. Focus on the obstacle directly ahead of you, not the one 5 years from now.
  9. Play to your strengths. Many of the obstacles had penalties if you could not complete them. Let me give you an example. The monkey bars included monkey bars up and then you had to climb into a tube and go down the other way. We tried this the first few times but I knew for me my grip strength was going to fade as the event wore on. I also knew that once I put my gloves on, it would get harder. Rather than attempt the monkey bars each round, potentially fail, and still have to do the penalty, I preemptively took the penalty. Saved me energy and I could move on. We did this several times throughout the course. This is true in so many areas – play to your strengths – don’t waste time when you don’t need to on your weaknesses. But I can tell you – my goals for the next year are pull ups, grip strength, and rope climbs so next year I can be more successful and take fewer penalties.
  10. Nothing, I mean nothing, is sweeter than completing a goal you have been working on for a year. We could not have written a more story book ending to our rookie debut. Our goal all along was 50 miles, 10 laps. As the event went on, we thought we were on pace to accomplish it. However, we were more and more fatigued and it became a little illusive. The last two miles of the course were extremely rough terrain and almost impossible to run. However, on our last lap we knew if we didn’t run, we wouldn’t make our goal. So we ran, we jumped off the cliff one last time and everyone was yelling “You have 3 minutes.” From somewhere, we mustered up the energy to sprint to the finish line. We finished with 90 seconds to spare. The other lesson here is that when you think you have nothing left – I guarantee that you have more.


Bonus and most powerful lesson for me.

  • Support was critical. The outpouring of support we got via social media, letters, cards, phone calls, text was nothing short of incredible. We also had our pit crew who was on the course every lap cheering us on and also changing us in/out of Neoprene (no easy task), feeding us when we couldn’t even put food to our mouth, and all along they cheered for other mudders. We also had friends fly in and cheer us on during the event. Seeing people run and cheer  you to the finish line gives you a huge boost. We all need support in life and this time – I asked for support. I reached out and said “can you write us letters, notes, etc.” Part of me for one instant thought that was selfish. But it’s NOT. We all need support to accomplish our goals or sometimes just to exist in life.Don’t be afraid to ask for it. 

In a future email, I will send out the play by play write up if you are interested in how the event actually worked.

For now, here are some pictures from the big day.


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