How to use your Mind to Conquer Tough Mudder - Part 1

By Zac Hancock | 4 April, 2016


Tough Mudder is tough; but you can be tougher. And no, you don’t need to be a burly 200-pound man-mountain to do it - you simply need to hack your mind. To help you do this our friends at the Body Transformation Academy are bringing you their top tips on mental toughness.

You’ve seen it in 007 movies, when the bad guy captures and tortures Bond, no matter what they do to him, he never cracks. Never gives up the secrets. How can he endure this pain and stick to his guns? The secret lies in his mindset. He has been trained extensively in controlling his mind. Using the same mindset principles and techniques, you too can conquer (hopefully slightly less extreme) Tough Mudder.

What does mindset mean, as it relates to athletic performance? In the context of overcoming the obstacles you'll find at Tough Mudder, or athletic performance in general, mindset is the psychological thoughts, feelings and beliefs that affect performance. Let’s look at how we can control our brain to the advantage of our performance.

Shutting out pain:

Pain for us is probably not hanging by a rope from the ceiling, being beaten by a few hired goons, unlike poor James. Pain is exhaustion. Pain is the burn of lactic acid in the muscles when they don’t want to go on. The gasping for oxygen as our heart rate pounds, close to breaking through our rib cage. If you have the ability to shut out this pain, to not let it slow you down - or worse, stop you - your performance is going to sky-rocket.

To learn how to shut out the pain, you need to learn to be present and control where your thoughts lie. It might sound like an odd way to train for a Tough Mudder, but meditation is an awesome way to achieve this. If you learn to focus on your breathing and let all of the other thoughts wash over you, when your muscles start to burn, you simply return to your breathing and shut them out of your mind. It sounds too simple, but it is not easy. It’s a skill you have to learn.

Start with just a normal guided meditation laying on your bed and once you have got the hang of how to do it, you can start applying it in the gym. Stop counting reps and start focusing solely on your breathing. It doesn’t even matter how many reps you end up doing. You’re training the skill of shutting out the pain. You will end up doing more reps anyway - have a partner count (silently) for you if you care to know.

Going all in:

“Pain is temporary, glory is forever.” The ability to go all in and give it everything is something that comes from your mind - not your body. When it hurts, when every fibre in your body is telling you to stop; are you going to listen, or will you go on anyway? It’s a mindset of succeed or die trying. Nobody can beat you apart from you. Only you choose when you quit. When you stop trying and admit defeat.

Being all in means you will do whatever it takes. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen? It hurts a bit and maybe your body will eventually collapse underneath you. So what? The sense of pride and accomplishment for doing everything in your power to succeed will be worth it. Drill it into your head that it is succeed or bust.

Share this with your team and stay tuned for part 2. 

See you in the mud.


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Body Transformation Academy is a training provider for fitness professionals. Students are taught psychological techniques so that they can give their clients sustainable nutrition and exercise habits.