How to “Survive" Tough Mudder

A Mudman Pro Tip from Kevin “Mudman” LaPlatney  
While we all know Tough Mudder is “not a race, but a challenge,” a big part of their slogan comes from the fact that a number of fear-facing tasks await you in their 10-12 mile events. While little of the course is truly physically strenuous, here are some of the phobia-centric obstacles that many Mudders would sooner skip than miserably attempt, with tips on how you can get through them a little easier.


Like the namesake movie starring Tim Robbins, a long and dark inclined sewage pipe opens to drop into a muddy pool of freedom below, testing your fears of the dark and heights.

TIP: Try night swimming, preferably not in shark infested ocean water though. The drop from Shawshanked tube isn’t very high, so even just a closed eyes jump or backwards fall into a pool might get you prepared for the fall.



I’m not sure many remember their actual birthday entry into the real world, but this is Tough Mudder’s recreation – having to crawl and push through a narrowing path while a water-filled liner squeezes down on you from above.

TIP: Don’t worry, even in this “womb”, there is enough air to breathe but you’ll need to lay out flat to move more comfortably. Bear crawling only gets you part way as the space narrows, so work on doing army crawls with weight or a heavy pack/ruck to get used to the pressure on your back.


Like a police academy hazing or just a locker room full of too much Icy-Hot, the crawl through a tear gas filled enclosed tent isn’t an enjoyable stay if you’re stuck there very long.

TIP: Sure, you can douse yourself for weeks in some sports cream or Vick’s VapoRub, but that still may not take the sting out this task on race day. Instead, work on being able to crawl with eyes squinted so as to limit their exposure to the chemicals in this harsh (but apparently safe) gas. I guess you could also pack some ski or swim goggles with you for this obstacle, but that wouldn’t be very Mudderly.


Quite likely Mudder’s most infamous 10 second torture chamber, having to run through a corridor of hanging live electric wires is something you probably have to be off your rocker to actually enjoy. And like a Cialis commercial, only adults healthy enough to engage this should even attempt running through, as it could have some potential health risks.

TIP: In no way would I suggest “practicing” for the voltage zap of wires tied to car batteries because that’s just stupid. If you’re hoping to complete it but without the bragging rights of mild electrocution, you could take your time and try evading the wires or low crawling to be below them, but that’s the best advice I can offer. Otherwise, just throw in the towel and skip this one – never been a fan.


The drama that surrounds this ice bath obstacle has little merit. Hypothermia is extremely unlikely since you are “in it” for such a short time, unless you drop your car keys and need to go dumpster diving for a while. The two biggest effects are muscle cramping from the temperature shock, or maybe a temporary headache (think ice cream brain-freeze) for a couple minutes after you exit.

TIP: Believe it or not, this is one obstacle that you really can actually train for this with cold showers or icy tub sessions. Doing so is not just a way to survive the obstacle, but a great daily recovery tool after your workout or run too (you do exercise also, right?).


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