When Take Note takes on Tough Mudder

The young, svelte, dynamic, dexterous, toned (I could go on) team that we are, with a passion for challenges and a healthy sense of competition would make us ripe pickings for a Tough Mudder obstacle race wouldn’t it? We thought so too. 

So before the Take Note Seven show their true colours on the obstacle course, we caught five minutes with some of them to find out how training has been so far and what they’re looking forward to (if anything) on the day. 

Q: Complete this sentence:

I run like a …… and the thing I am looking forward to most about Tough Mudder is …..

Grace W:  I run like a smoker and the thing I am looking forward to most about Tough Mudder is getting super muddy, finishing (hopefully), and drinking a pint after!

Tom: I run like as fast as I can and the thing I am looking forward to most about Tough Mudder is watching the others get electrocuted.

Morgan: I run like someone having a cardiac arrest ​and the thing I am looking forward to most about Tough Mudder is ​finishing it.​

Tommy: I run like a turtle and the thing I am looking forward to most about Tough Mudder is team work and fun.

Vicki: I run like a elephant, with four left feet and 10 x 500 kg bags of cement on its back..and the thing I am looking forward to most about Tough Mudder is erm now let me think??

Lucy: I run like I’m in pain and the thing I am looking forward to most about Tough Mudder is finishing in one piece.

Q: How fit were you before Tough Mudder training, what sort of weekly exercises were you doing if any before you signed up?

Grace W: I would say unfit – the only exercise I’d do is the occasional, brisk, walk to work – and only if it was sunny!  Otherwise, nothing.

Tom: I cycle to work, and run sporadically out of panic.

​Morgan: As unfit as an alive person can be.

Tommy: Cycling and badminton.

Vicki: I consider myself moderately fit for my age, I’ve been going to the gym three times a week now for nearly three years.  Maybe I would describe myself as strong rather than fit.

Lucy: Sedentary to say the least… It was hard enough getting the effort to join the gym, let alone attending it.

Q: How many months of training have you done?

Grace W: I did a good burst from October to, say, the beginning of March – early mornings, classes at the gym etc., still thinking I would ramp it up nearer the time.  Then I hit a psychological gym wall.  I hurt my knee a bit, and was advised to rest, and took that to the extreme.  Six weeks of solid inactivity.  I would say I would go to the gym, knowing in my heart that I wouldn’t, and then not go, and feel bad about it, and start the same thing all over again the next day.  Playing mind games with myself and losing!  I’ve been for a few runs in the last few weeks but haven’t broken 5k in any of them….

Tom: 0.5 months.

​Morgan: Four months but nothing since January​.

Tommy: Zero training.

Vicki: I haven’t stepped up my training which I should have done, but I have been going consistently for three years so I’m hoping that will carry me through and give me the strength I need on the day.

Lucy: I’d say around a month of actual regular gym going, but that was in the middle of a lot of drinking beer and lounging.

Q: What’s the nearest thing to a Tough Mudder you have ever done in your life, ever? 

Grace W: Hmmm.  Nothing?  An egg and spoon race in primary school?

Tom: I have done one TM before and was knocked out by the electric shocks.

Morgan: Walking to work​.

Tommy: Nothing like it before.

Vicki: The gym apparatus at primary school.

Lucy: I think probably sports day at school.

Q: What exercise(s) do you think has been the most useful to help prepare for Tough Mudder?

Grace W: The recent runs have been an eye-opener of just how much running we’ll have to do – I can barely manage a quarter of the distance let alone with obstacles in between.  So it’s helped me prepare mentally for a very tough day!

Tom: Pull-ups, but I have not done any.

Morgan: I ​will let you know after!

Tommy: Lifting weights and cardio.

Vicki: Increasing my weights at the gym and concentrating on strengthening my leg muscles.

Lucy: Probably the weight training – something I’ve never done before so any muscle gain has to be beneficial.

 

Q: Have you spoken to anyone who has done it before, what’s the best piece of advice you’re taking with you to race day?

Grace W:  Yes – the most encouraging advice I’ve had is that lots of other people do it as an office “day out” and lots of people with the same sort of fitness get through it fine, so I’ll be remembering that as I go around.

Tom: Ask for help and help others.

Morgan:​ Only Tom and he says it’s really hard. 80% of success is showing up.

Tommy: ”It’s gonna be fun” and “You’re gonna die” 🙂

Vicki: Only Tom, not sure he had any useful advice, so I’m going with an open mind and with the hope of finishing whatever time it takes me.

Lucy: Just keep running and don’t stop to let yourself process how ridiculous the whole thing is.

Q: People talk about the mental stamina needed for these sorts of races. How, if at all, has training for Tough Mudder improved your own headspace?

Grace W: I’m not sure I’ve done enough training for it to have improved my headspace.  I was gardening the other day, though, and was super scared of removing an old cool bag that had a myriad of bugs living under it and I thought, ‘Well, I’ve got to do Tough Mudder, so I better go over these worms!’  I overcame the worm fears and the garden looks great.  Big day.

Tom: I proved to myself I could deal with enclosed spaces.

Morgan:​ It’s better to exercise than to not. It feels nicer to have clean hair more regularly too.

Tommy: None.

Vicki: I’m hoping the attitude that has worked for me up until this day, will work for me during the Tough Mudder.

Lucy: Running longer distances has actually started to become less of a torturous activity so I’m looking forward to reaping the benefits of that as I improve but I don’t think I’m quite there yet.

Q: Which Tough Mudder obstacle are you least looking forward to?

Grace W: The ice enema…. I hate cold things.  I don’t like getting in an unheated pool on holiday when it’s 30 degrees outside – I make a big ol’ fuss of it and everyone at the hotel laughs at me.  So I am really not looking forward to that one.

Tom: Ice Bucket, it hurts so much.

​Morgan: RUNNING.​

Tommy: The electric shock and long run.

Vicki: The monkey bars, I have always been useless at anything to do with lifting my body weight.  So if I have to climb a rope, I won’t even get my feet of the ground. That’s why my pole dancing experience was a disaster (never again).

Lucy: I’m not looking forward to having to propel myself up a giant wall, since my mere 5 feet and 3 inches of height won’t be helping much in that department.

Q: And finally, who’s the one to beat in the TN office?

Grace W: I’m not thinking in competitive terms, but if I was, then Tom.  Just because I know he’ll take so much joy in beating us.

Tom: Tommy (I like an easy goal).

Morgan: Tom/Vicki- although I thought we were a team??​

Tommy: Me and my fears 🙂

Vicki: Tom, he won’t want to be beaten by a girl!

Lucy: No one – we’re all in this together! (I’m bringing everyone down with me).

**AFTER TOUGH MUDDER – The Feedback!**

Thankfully we have no major injuries to report! All team members were dragged, hauled and cajoled through the mud bath that was TM. We caught up with each of them a few days later for a post-race review.

Q: What are you experiencing this week, post Tough Mudder?

Grace W: An extreme sunshine-y glow of achievement and v. v. sore muscles – every single one, even ones I didn’t know I had.

Tommy: Loads of muscle pains and my whole body is so tired overall. Usually I am very fast on my daily bike ride, but my speed is slower than an old man on a Santander bike.

Vicki:  A real mixture – a sense of achievement,  aches and pains,  respect and love for all of my team mates, eagerness to do another challenge,  flat, so a real mixed bag.

Lucy: Pain, aches, bruises, but ultimately basking in the afterglow and feeling pretty smug right now.

Tom: A weird mixture of pride and disappointment.

Q: What was your favourite obstacle?

Grace W: The Block Ness Monster – deep in the woods, impossible without working with everyone else in the swamp, and super fun!

Tommy: I don’t know the name of them but my favourite were all of the obstacles that required team effort and could not be completed alone.

Vicki: The Block Ness Monster, I felt like I was on a game show with the rest of the team, it was great fun.

Lucy: Definitely the Block Ness Monster – a perfect mix of comradery, physical strength and ballsiness needed to fling others and yourself over large blocks submerged in water. The closest I’ve felt to actually living in a computer game.

Tom: Everest, genuinely a tough obstacle, and it was amazing to see the grit and determination from everyone to make it. Morgan & Grace W’s faces will stick with me for a long time.

Q: What were you most proud of or did you surprise yourself at?

Grace W: I nearly cried finally getting over Everest.  It’s so near the end of the course and I would have thought I’d have given up after 3 failed attempts but I found some secret determination tucked away somewhere – was not giving up until I got (or was pulled) over the top!!

Tommy: The running. It was a great experience discovering my running capabilities. I will definitely keep running. I was worrying about the electric shock but when I got there, I did not even care, all I wanted was to just get over it.

Vicki: The taking part and completing the course, I wasn’t sure I would be able to participate at all after my recent accident.

Lucy: I was pretty surprised that I made it up the Everest wall first time – turns out being smaller might have worked in my favour that time. I was mainly surprised that we were able to actually keep our spirits up for such a long amount of time. Who’da thunk!

Tom: The Ice Enema had been worrying my for a while but was very pleased that I just did it. I was giving serious consideration to skipping it!

 

Q: Worst moment of the day?

Grace W: The anticipation at the start of the day was much worse than anything on the course.  Also, waiting in a queue (wet and cold) to throw ourselves backwards out of a tunnel and into deep, brown, stinky water… could have done with slightly less time to think about that one.

Tommy: That’s the ice bath. I though I was going to die, really. I’ve never ever felt anything like that before. When I fell into the first bath I wanted to get out as soon as possible as I really thought I was going to die, but I realised there is no way out. The only way out was to keep going and to swim into the next ice bath.

Vicki: Definitely the Ice bath,  I won’t forget that feeling in a hurry.

Lucy: Leaving 🙂

Tom: The reality check I got at the Monkey bars. I was dreaming of heroics, but my performance was even worse than I could have imagined. I had to jump into the water as I could not do even 1!

Q: At any point did you want to wave the white flag?

Grace W: Going up the first couple of hills, I was wondering how I was gonna get through the whole thing… but after that, not really – loved it.

Tommy: Nope. I reached my breaking point half way on the route and from that point, nothing else mattered, I ran like a robot.

Vicki: No, it wasn’t an option once I had started.

Lucy: No white flags but it was pretty hard to conjure up the strength to actually run through a whole load of 10,000V electricity right at the end. I think that’s a natural reaction, though…

Tom:  At the top of the ice enema, panic was setting in, everyone was watching. Had to do it.

Q: What kept you going?

Grace W: The feeling when everyone was over an obstacle was amazing, and seeing the Take Note spectators/cheerleaders in the distance as we came back round to them was a massive boost.  Think the adrenalin may have helped too!

Tommy: I have no idea but the team spirit helped a lot for sure!

Vicki: My team and the atmosphere,  it really was fabulous.

Lucy: Those sweet, sweet snack pit stops in the distance.

Tom: The team spirit, it was such a pleasure to see everyone going for it, even when it was clearly very much out of their comfort zone.

Q: Will you do it again?

Grace W: Definitely, sign me up!!

Tommy: Hell yeah! Apart from the ice bath. I won’t be able to find that obstacle next time 😉 I would rather do the electric shock twice.

Vicki: Definitely although I haven’t quite forgotten the horror of the ice bath and the the 1st mile, so I need a few months to get rid of the mental scars.

Lucy: Yes, definitely! One of the best experiences of my life. I’m already mentally planning the next one.

Tom: I guess so…

Q: For anyone thinking of doing it next year, what is your advice?

Grace W: The atmosphere and excitement and people around you will give you an extra 50%, at least.  Wear something on your knees as padding and take your t-shirt off for the Ice Enema.  There is always someone who will pull/push/lift/drag you over/under/out of things (thankfully).  And you should do it, without a doubt!

Tommy: Take as many vitamins and minerals as you can before you go, get proper clothes and just relax, take it easy 🙂

Vicki: Don’t be afraid, sign up, push yourself, don’t let any demons get in the way and just go for it, you are tougher than you think!

Lucy: Bring a support team with a spare t-shirt for the post-arctic enema freeze. A complete change of clothes is a must and don’t forget to tie your laces super tight or you’ll find yourself having to run barefoot when they get absorbed into Mud Mile.

Tom:  Don’t think, just do!


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