And even if you can hammer out sub-seven-minute-miles, how many pull-ups can you do? "The difference between a 10K run or triathlon and an obstacle race is that the latter requires only aerobic endurance and encourages only one type of training," says Godin. "With obstacle races, athletes need endurance, strength, power and agility." To get ready, incorporate whole body muscle conditioning into your workouts with moves like pull-ups, push-ups, squats, rows and kettlebell swings. Doing a Spartan race? Familiarize yourself with the burpee. "If a participant can't complete an obstacle, then they do them as a penalty," says Godin.
When it comes to obstacle races, there's strength—and safety—in numbers. "Our courses are virtually impossible to complete alone, and even if you could, why would you want to?" says Patterson, adding that 80 percent of Tough Mudder participants sign up as a team. Not only will you have a crew to hang out (and celebrate) with pre- and post-race, but you'll also have buddies by your side to help you up Everest and over the Berlin Walls. "Plus, they'll also be the ones who keep you motivated, both on event day and during your training," says Patterson.
Just like any other endurance event, you'll want to be smart about fueling during your race. "Even for the shorter races it is a good idea to bring food with you. The race can deplete glycogen so having some quick-digesting carbohydrates on hand will be helpful," says Godin. For longer races, Godin suggests taking in 40 to 50 grams of carbs per hour (think: sports gels, chews or energy bars). If you prefer whole foods (and have a place to stash them), go for a banana, dried fruit or pretzels.
"For longer runs, hydration packs become a necessity," says Godin. "They are cumbersome while performing the obstacles but well worth the extra effort." Just don't overdo it on the H2O pre-race: "A lot of people drink too much water before the event, which actually depletes electrolytes," says Patterson. "It's much better to sip water throughout the course to ensure you're hydrated and avoid big gulps of water, which can cause gas and, for some people, give you a stitch."
Dress the Part
No need to run out and get fresh gear for your race (after all, you're going to be drenched in mud from head to toe). But you won't want to wear just any old thing, either. For a summer obstacle race, opt for T-shirts and shorts made from a quick-drying material, like Dri-FIT or Coolmax, says Godin. "And if it's not too hot, tights that cover your knees can offer extra protection during the barbwire crawl." As for shoes, leave the cleats at home and opt for your normal running shoes (trail shoes are best). "And don't forget a change of clothes so you can enjoy the post party," says Patterson.
So you're out there giving it your all and you totally bite it. Or maybe you just can't muster the strength (or the coordination) to traverse that narrow beam. "The race is tough, so you have to be tougher than the race," says Godin. He advises that you look for a teammate or even another competitor for a helping hand. "Other racers will help you through the obstacle, whether it is giving you a push up the wall, or offering advice on how to conquer an obstacle," says Godin. "Whatever you do, just don't quit; keep moving forward and try your hardest."mud run.