May 9 2016
Here is how one runner approached it and found surprising benefits.
Think you’re tough? Amelia Boone, winner of the World’s Toughest Mudder, takes the word to a whole new level. In order to gain her prestigious title, Boone won a grueling 25-hour(!) race filled with obstacles including ice baths, live electrical wires and fire walking.
It’s safe to say that Amelia knows her way around a mud pit. But what does it take to achieve the mental and physical stamina necessary to compete at this radical level? Boone shares her hard-earned tricks for conquering the log rolls and ladders of extreme obstacle racing.
If you’re competing in your rst obstacle race, Boone suggests enlisting a willing friend. The course may be daunting, but having a partner in crime helps alleviate the initial intimidation and fear factor. In fact, most of these races are designed to be completed in teams, with participants helping each other navigate the difficult obstacles.
Amelia, an attorney, lives in downtown Chicago, where there are no mud pits or cargo nets to practice her skills. Because it’s impossible to re-create the obstacles she’ll confront in the great outdoors from the confines of a concrete jungle, Boone thinks creatively. By wearing a weight vest on the stair climber, performing Cross t workouts that promote grip strength and running regularly, she covers all her bases for race day.
While obstacle races require a high level of physical tness, mental toughness is paramount for success. As a selfdescribed “tough kid,” Boone says that she has always been disciplined about sports, school and her career. Mental strength, Boone claims, is a learned trait that can be taken from any aspect of your life. The tougher you are in the real world, the better your chances against fierce competitors.
Check out the course beforehand on the race website to feel prepared for the obstacles. Boone recommends acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses so you can anticipate when to push the pace and when to hold back. And while it sounds like it would add time to the clock, Boone suggests stopping to assess the obstacles mid-race before you tackle them. Briefly surveying the obstacle will ensure you choose the shortest and most efficient strategy to overcoming it.
To stay sane during a grueling event, distraction is key, says Boone—and a mental shutdown is sometimes needed. When the negative thoughts take over, Boone goes on autopilot. She achieves this by repeatedly singing the same song in her head, telling herself the race is almost over (even when it’s not) or taking the course one step at time. By distracting yourself from the physical pain, you can trick your body to go farther than you ever thought possible.
While obstacles races are fun, they’re more dangerous than your average 5k road race. In her one and only DNF (did not finish), Boone made the tough decision to drop out during a frigid 10-degree day in Vermont. After completing an ice-bath obstacle and losing feeling in her feet, she opted not to risk permanent damage by continuing the race. Boone says she learned more from this one DNF than any of her high-profile finishes. Winning is fun, but self-awareness is essential—if you want to race successfully, you have to know when to say when.