Meeting the Tough Mudder (Half) Challenge

Those readers following the updates – here, here, and here – know that along with my wife and brother, I have been training for a Tough Mudder. We decided to tackle a Tough Mudder Half (five miles and thirteen obstacles) for our first event. We figured a Half was the best way to dip our toes into the [dirty] water. This past weekend our event was held in Mesa, Arizona, about three hours from our home.

Unfortunately, my wife ended up having her gallbladder removed a few weeks before the event and was strongly encouraged by her surgeon not to attempt the event. Though she hated not participating, considering all the hard work she put in, she heeded the advice and my brother and I were left on our own to represent Pain, Inc.

Tough Mudder Morning

A couple of observations from my first Tough Mudder. First, neither my brother nor I thought it was as tough as we imagined it would be. I believe that is because we both have been very active with various sporting (e.g. soccer, track and field, wrestling) activities and lifting weights pretty much our entire lives. Fitness has always been a part of our make up. Also, for me, considering I spent the first few years of my career in the US Army in the Infantry, jumping out of airplanes, it would take a lot for me to really be pushed and physically challenged. With that said however, it was a great deal of fun. It was great to see a lot of people out there pushing others and themselves in ways they may not have before and revel in the teamwork and camaraderie.

My brother gets in a pre Mudder stretch … or something like that

Second, although you can download a training plan from the Tough Mudder website and there are a number of videos describing suggested exercises to prepare for an event, I would suggest you really only need to perform one activity and three basic exercises to get ready. The activity is running. It doesn’t get any more basic than putting in some miles starting a few of months before a planned event. The three exercises are pushups, sit-ups, and pull-ups. Between those three exercises you will get all you need to strengthen your core and build upper body strength across your back, shoulders, and chest.


Pre Mudder

The goals my brother and I set were to run between each obstacle – many people walk a significant part of the event after the first mile or so – and overcome each obstacle. Missions accomplished! For a greater challenge, we plan to run a Tough Mudder Full in the near future, perhaps after we do another Half with my wife, giving her a chance to get one under her belt.

More images from our Tough Mudder …

Faces in the Corral Crowd

The Blockness Monster

Pyramid Scheme

Tough Mudder Finish

Post Mudder and a Beer

Although the event was less demanding than I imagined it would be, we had lots of fun and it was a great way to spend a Saturday morning. Perhaps more important than the event itself is the fact that it served as a way for us to stay focused on a goal and maintain a high level of physical fitness.

Stay fit and savvy, my friends and challenge yourself to a Tough Mudder or similar event!

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. The photo of your brother stretching made me LOL. It looks like you guys had a blast!

    I’ve been following the plan from the website (thanks for pointing that out!). I’m also working with kettlebells and doing some kickboxing. Running has always been my weakness, so I’m putting in extra miles on the weekend to improve. Looking forward to the TMH next month!

    • My brother is quite the ham. We had a great time and have already registered for the same event next year … along with a couple friends, bringing the team total to five. Looking forward to your thoughts after completing your TMH. Best of luck, my friend!

  2. That looks like a lot of fun! Congrats on participating!
    I’ve been thinking about training for a half marathon. Each year I cheer the participants of the one held in my city but never thought about running one myself until recently 🙂

    • I would absolutely encourage you to do the half marathon. As with most challenges, particularly those you engage with friends and family, the benefits extend beyond the event itself. Namely the time spent training with friends and family; and the extended focus on exercising and managing diet.

      Thanks for stopping by, my friend and I would love to get a follow-up if you decide to accept the half marathon challenge!

  3. I suspect the reason you didn’t find it too hard, is due to the fact that you prepared for worse! Prepare for the worst, and “kinda tough” suddenly seems easy! Congrats on your First Tough Mudder, sorry your wife had to miss out.

    • Great point. Preparation, in any endeavor, reduces fear and the chance of failure. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, my friend.

  4. Congrats! Nice to see you smiling before and after. Bummer your wife had to miss it. My husband and I are registered for a Spartan race in September, our first. I’m excited and nervous. Been doing the push-ups and pull-ups, now we need to get the running started.

    • Running – and anything else for cardiovascular endurance – will be helpful. While the obstacles varied in difficulty, I didn’t find any too hard. Being able to quickly recover after each obstacle is key. Best of luck, my friend.

  5. Nice work James. Hard work but looks like you both had a lot of fun too.

    • A great experience and one way to help stay focused on physical fitness.

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