Monday, May 7, 2012

What should I wear to Tough Mudder??

I'll start out by saying this post is going to contain some foul language.  I had a couple miles yesterday at the start of Tough Mudder Vermont to do some thinking and keeping this one clean is going to be impossible. No muddy pun intended.

Am I an expert in this? No.  I have run seven of these things from Vermont to Florida though, so if you've never run one this may be helpful to you.

So your buddies convinced to to sign up for your first Tough Mudder.  It's been six months and you've trained hard.  You did some running, maybe some shakeweighting, possibly some Crossfit or Zumba classes.  It's getting close and you're wondering what to wear.  Now if you didn't prepare, and plan on wearing some ridiculous costume, this post probably isn't for you.  But if you plan on taking the day slightly serious, while still having fun of course, I'll help you with some gear choices.

Starting at the top. "Should I wear a hat?" -  This is totally up to you.  Do you usually wear a hat? You do understand you'll be jumping into dumpsters full of ice, off twenty foot high ledges into water, and under mucky brown ponds right?  If you still think it would be an advantage for you to wear a hat, by all means wear it.  you can always leave it in "Arctic Enema" a mile into the course.

"Do I need swimming goggles?" - Really? Stop it, now.  You'll be under the water for all of 2 minutes during the three plus hours the event's going to take.  If you look cool in your swimming goggles, wear them.  It'll give the rest of us something else to point and laugh at.

"Do I need Cold-Gear?" - Is it going to be cold?? I live by the philosophy that less is more. I'd rather be dry and cold than wear a bunch of heavy wet clothes.  I've run every one in a tank-top and shorts.  Most of the time the tank-top gets soaked with mud and I end up taking that off.  So am I cold? Absolutely.  If the sun is out I'm loving life. Will I dry off? Yes.  Meanwhile you'll be soaking wet in your three layers, hey whatever works for you.  If you're afraid of scrapes the long sleeves and leggings will help prevent them on your knees and elbows.  I like to finish with some battle scars though.  Gives me a week or so to remember what I did over the weekend.

"Do I need a Camel-bak?" - Do you? If you can't run 3 miles without needing water you'll need a Camel-bak.  It's that simple.  If you can go 3 miles without water, don't bother.  It's just more to carry.  I hydrate well before-hand and train without water so I can go 3 miles no problem.

"Should I bring energy gels?" - Yeah, why not? I usually throw a 'Gu' in each pocket just in case I need a boost.  I don't recommend you use them when you train though.  You're better off training without them so you don't rely on it.

"Should I wear gloves?" - That's totally up to you again.  They might help on a few obstacles if you think your hands can't handle climbing walls without them.  If you need some I left a pair on the side of Mt Snow about halfway through the course from 2011.  If you can find them they're all yours.  I haven't worn gloves since.

"What kind of shoes should I wear?" - This is where I'm going to get heated, so buckle up.  This notion that "Tough Mudder will ruin your shoes so wear old ones" is total horseshit.  You've spent the last six months watching what you eat, doing your pushups, and running, and now you're going to skimp on the one thing that separates your body from the rest of the course?  Don't be a dumbass.  Tough Mudder DOES NOT ruin your sneakers and I'll explain how I clean my stuff at the end of this post.  If you choose to wear an old pair of running sneakers, prepare to be slipping all over the course.  Don't even get me started on these "Vibram five-finger" nutjobs.  The next fucking person that's wearing footgloves that slips and falls and almost takes me out in the process is going to have a muddy imprint of my Salomon Speedcross 3's across their back.  That's great that you like to run in them, and you like having a conversation starter.  When they offer you no advantage on the course and you're slipping and they fill with mud, I'm happy for your stupid fucking choice in footwear.  The best choice in footwear for Tough Mudder is by far the Speedcross 3's.  Check them out, they make a Men's and a Women's version.  They have drawstring laces so when you can't feel your fingers you can still tighten them.  I've never had one come off in the mud either so that duct tape nonsense won't be a thought.  Anyone that's ever worn them will swear by them.

Men's -
Women's -

These are a fresh pair of Speedcross 3's scaling a Berlin Wall.

That's my head to toe Tough Mudder gear suggestions.  I'm open to your criticism, but if you're only offering up what your buddy said, don't bother.


How to Clean your muddy gear -

1. When you get home the fist thing you want to do is rinse all your stuff off with the hose.  Just get the caked mud out of the soles of your shoes and off your clothes.
2.  Get some "Super Clean".  It's in a purple gallon container and can be found in hardware stores or auto parts stores.  Put your now rinsed clothes in a bin or bucket with a generous amount of Super Clean and fill to the top with water.  Let everything soak for a day.
3.  Now that your stuff has soaked give it another good rinse with the hose.
4.  Put everything in the washing machine.  You want it to be a full load, so if you need to add towels to fill it up, do that.  It's probably not the best thing for your washing machine so if you want to do it at the laundromat, by all means do that.  I run mine sneakers and all with the normal amount of detergent, and another big dose of Super Clean.  If your washer has the ability to run an extra rinse cycle, do that.  If not, run it again a second time without detergent.
5.  When the wash cycle is done I let the sneakers air dry and the clothes go in the dryer like normal.
6.  Go get them muddy again.

My Speedcross 3's after multiple Tough Mudder's and washes.  They look brand new.


  1. I see you have very strong opinions against the VFF but... why is that? Do you have any data on it or is it just pure hate? Have you tried them? Just trying to make a decision for my Tough Mudder... Thanks for the post!

    1. I wore them in a recent race called the Barbarian Challenge. When shoes were slipping, I still had grip...mud, rocks, wet plywood. And the water and mud run right out of them.

  2. ...opinion... Speedcross 3's or Salomon Fellcross?? i bought the latter and absolutely LOVE THEM!!

  3. A buddy of mine sent me this for gear recos. Just wanted to say thanks for the Speedcross 3 reco. Those shoes rocked the course and look gently used after easy cleanup. Seriously, you don't have to toss your shoes and shoes with limited grip will hold you back.

    My take on gloves...I found a pair of Reebok wide receiver gloves on eBay for $10. They held up the whole race and I wore them the whole race. Half my team didn't have gloves, so they're not a necessity.

  4. Is this statement true?

    "At Tough Mudder, all shoes go to heaven (or get recycled and delivered to starving/shoeless children in Africa)."

    Got some speedcross 3's and don't want to seem stingy when I fight someone to keep them after the race.

    1. It's totally up to you if you want to donate your shoes. There's typically a table you can put your shoes on when you're done or just wash them off and take them home with you. No judgement that i've ever seen.

  5. I love the article but please keep it clean.

  6. I am planning on wearing my Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra GTX this weekend in my first Sydney TM. Are they going to be too bulky? It's either those or my Asics runners.

  7. Hi,

    Great blog.

    Did you find that the SP3's needed to be worn in before they felt 100% comfy?

  8. I just ran a Gladiator Assault (7 miles, 30 obstacles) and bought the Speedcross 3s based on your recommendation.

    Nobody else that I ran this with had any "specialized" shoes and they were all slipping and having a hard time. These shoes were fantastic. I bought them a month before the race and the race was the first time I wore them. Cleaning them now, as I type this.

    HIGHLY recommended shoe. VERY light, doesn't retain water. While everyone else was complaining about heavy shoes, I was still as agile as mile one!

  9. I did the Mid-Atlantic Tough Mudder in the ladies Saloman Speedcross 3's...thanks for the recommedation!!! They performed extremely well in every obstacle...there were way more water challenges than I anticipated, but shoes stayed light. Race site was also EXTREMELY hilly and I was able to keep my footing on the steep muddy declines while i watched plenty of others lose traction. And I was skeptical, but the shoes look new after washing! The bright blue looks a litle more turquoise, but really no one could tell they were soaked with mud unless i told them.

  10. Second article I've seen on the sp3s...I have some lime green ones and I know they'll rock TM Philly next week

  11. Inov-8 also makes some good mud shoes, a little cheaper too. I bought the mud claws and they worked extremely well, I also second that VFF's are not a good choice for the Mudder, (and I run in VFF all the time)

  12. Glad someone who runs Vff and actuall ran a mudder commented..thx

  13. Just ran tough mudder yesterday with the speedcross 3s. Awesome shoes! Thanks for the recommendation

  14. Hello,

    Just ran my first Tri-state Tough Mudder. Read your blog before I went and took your advice and bought a beautiful pair of Saloman Speedcross 3 Running shoes! Wow they performed great!!! Walked through mud and ran up slimy slippery hills with total confidence. While other were all falling down, I eased up and down with no worries!!!
    Just wanted to thank you for your tip on the shoes they made my first race totally enjoyable!!!!

  15. Has anyone here actually used SuperClean or similar purple degreaser to clean their clothes and sneakers? I'm assuming you used gloves? If not, did it dry up your hands? A day seems like a long time to leave your gear soak in sodium hydroxide. Did it tear through your clothing or wash away the paint on your sneaks?

  16. LOVE my speedcross 3's!! Used them at the tough mudder Tahoe a couple of weeks ago and they were FABULOUS!

  17. I wore Salomon Techamphibians for the GA TM and they held up for the most part. Thinking about upgrading to the SC 3's but I'm curious are you using the regular SC 3's or the SC 3's CS (climashield)? Didn't see you reference CS anywhere so just wanted to make sure before I make the investment.

  18. Just got some new SC 3's for the next few races coming up this year. I tried out the Under Armour "Tough Mudder" branded shoe and it was not for me at all. This SC 3 feels like it will support my foot for the mileage and give me the grip needed. Only concern (minor) is the drainage ability for whatever water/mud does get in when you submerge your feet. I am sure it's fine since I've read so many raving reviews related to SC 3's in obstacle races, but drainage becomes a huge factor if it's not happening fast enough.

  19. Hey guys I will hopefully try my first Tough mudder in may in Toledo, Spain because I´m currently studying there. Since I don´t know if I will do more of stuff like this, you think it´s ok to buy some cheaper running shoes and not directly buy professional ones? Or is it from the first time on recommendable to get good ones?
    I normally run at the street or some natural ways and in the summer I sometimes hike.
    Would it be worth it pay more to get a good pair of shoes?
    thanks for every answer :)

  20. I was looking to determine if I should invest in the Speedcross for my Mudder if I was only going to ruin them. You answered my question and then some. Awesome article, and you are hilarious. I'll be thinking of the Speedcross imprint while I am suffering through this race. Thanks!

  21. Everyone on my team is wearing long sleeves I'm pretty sure but now that I look at it I'm second guessing. We are running the Central Florida it's not supposed to be sunny but still, I don't mind getting cuts and bruises, any kind of battle scar but my teammates suggested it so I just bought an 80 UA shirt. What do you think stick with the long sleeve under armour shirt or go short sleeve