Friday, May 20, 2016

It's All In My Head (And In the Training): Tough Mudder Report Part 3

I lost count after seven, but here are some of the more memorable obstacles from Tough Mudder ATL. (Notice the lack of photos-this was due to neither of us having a GoPro (next time, bruh) and starting in a fairly late wave. We've got some fabulous photos of our finish!)
Photo Courtesy of Tough Mudder
Skidmarked, a wall slanted at about a 45 degree angle TOWARDS you was one of the first real walls to climb over. Unless you could jump of your own accord, grab the top and hoist yourself over, you would need help. Another mudder and I hoisted Rebecca up first. I lent a hand or two to others before I asked for help getting myself up.

I asked for help.

This is a fairly new concept for me. I don’t like asking anyone for help until I’m in dire need of it, and often it’s too late. This Tough Mudder thing was an exercise in doing just that, and willingly accepting it early on in the process.

So two people gave me a leg up, and then slowly I was able to lift myself over the wall. I felt like the queen of the world. My arms and legs felt strong. Our training had paid off. Rebecca and I had worked for this, to be able to conquer precisely this.  I climbed down to the tire buffer in the middle of the wall, and jumped down, this time landing successfully on my two feet. Rebecca and I high-fived, helped a few other people over the wall and went on to test our new-found strength and confidence on other obstacles.

Photo Courtesy Of  Tough Mudder
There was the Pyramid Scheme, a slippery wall with nowhere to grip. One had to literally climb on top of and over people to reach slippery, outreached hands at the top. It took me a bit longer to muster up the confidence to use actual human bodies for climbing (like say, toddlers do), but I did it with help from people at the top and bottom. I’m not a crier, but after worrying that after all of everyone’s efforts I still wouldn’t be able to reach the top, I felt enormous relief when I did—and the waterworks were ready and willing to spill without any input from me.

Balls to the WallLiberator, and Chunky Monkey were three obstacles that required superior upper-body strength, excellent grip, and patience with oneself. Although I tried—and it is quite possible that I did NOT leave everything on the field—I did not get over the two walls. At Chunky Monkey, I froze with fear at the top of the platform, knowing that I probably would fall into the water right away. I felt like one ledge-dive was enough for a day but I would be back to test my non-existent prowess at a later date. 
Photo Courtesy of Tough Mudder

The Liberator required you to insert pegs into holes, lift yourself up to the next level of holes with legs on slanted (not in your favor) notches on the side walls, liberating yourself from any traces of hubris. Chunky Monkey was a supersized version of the my childhood monkey bars, only it required swinging from pole to pole using momentum and strength from your hips and core. Rebecca and I were late in practicing our hip taps while hanging, so this will be one to try again, next time!

Balls to the Wall required rope-climbing against a wall, with deceptively helpful knots spaced at intervals just out of reach for simple climbing. This was another obstacle that required teamwork. I attempted it once, took a break to observe other folks, and then tried again, getting a bit higher the second time. I thanked the folks at the top who held on to me as I contemplated trying one more time to swing my body higher. Then I dropped back down. I started to realize that my biggest issue is not necessarily a lack of strength, rather it is not know which muscles to engage and how to engage them. 

I’m looking forward to attempting all three of these again after doing some more work on grip strength, pull-ups, hip flexibility and utilizing momentum to propel myself forward--basically everything!  I’m know that I will do better next time, knocking out some more of these babies, and proving to myself that it really is all in my head (and in the training)! 



  1. THANK YOU for these posts! I always thought I'd never be at all interested in a Tough Mudder, but your description of the process makes it seem a lot like the process I went through in becoming a runner -- scary/exciting, full of help and encouragement, and really more about the spiritual obstacles than the physical. I've spent my life standing outside of athletic endeavor and thinking "that's not for me" out of fear and body shame. It's scary/exciting to consider more and more places to dive on in. THANKS.

  2. Martha! Thanks for your comment! Why don't you sign up for TM Dallas in October? I'm in the midst of assembling a team...we'll train together and do a meet up the night before and do the event as a team? You interested?