For those of you who don't know her, Morgan McKay is pretty freaking awesome. Not only is she a Guinness World Record Holder and the 2017 Spartan Ultra World Championship winner, this endurance athlete also has quite a bit of experience on the Tough Mudder scene. In the last couple weeks leading up to the 2018 World's Toughest Mudder she published her TOP tips for this grueling 24 hour race on her Instagram. She has graciously allowed us to publish them here, and we are psyched to be able to share them with all of you!
Take it away, Morgan!
The most important tip is to set a realistic goal for World's Toughest Mudder and follow a solid training plan! This will align your mind and body together to work hard towards a goal you have set. It paves a clear path of what you need to do. “If you don’t have a plan, plan to fail.”
I have been training with Yancy Camp for 2 years now, and the results have been AMAZING! Let me point out, that this training is top quality. I am NOT a professional racer ( I totally want to be though!) I work FULL time (8-9hours/day) so I don’t have hours and hours to train. The focus is on QUALITY training that fits in with my everyday life. Anyone CAN follow this, there are also modifications included in my program. Let me also add that I have NEVER been in competitive sports, I didn’t excel at anything fitness related growing up. I decided a few years ago that I love OCR and I work hard every day. I don’t consider myself to have any “talent” I just have an amazing work ethic. YOU CAN DO THIS TOO!!!
One more thing: the last month leading up to an ultra race is critical: you need a balance of working hard and including a good taper.
I have lost every single headlamp I have ever raced with at WTM and Toughest Mudder... with multiple water obstacles and constant water submersions, lamps get lost! It’s like a curse or something for me! Have back ups, because the volunteers won’t let you leave the pit area at night without a working headlamp. Also bring extras! Last year I lost 5 lamps (because I didn’t tie it to my bib) it was such a stupid mistake!
This tip contributed by OCR Nutritionist Melissa Boufounos!Pre-Race: “Eat at least two hours before race time so you have time to digest. Meal should mostly be easy-to-digest, low fiber carbs. Stay on top of hydration throughout the day before the race. One hour before race time, drink 2-4 cups of water with electrolytes, carbs and a small amount of sodium. Mixing coconut water with essential amino acids and a pinch of salt is a great option. Or water down pure fruit juice with a pinch of sea salt. Thirty minutes before the race starts, consume 30-50g of carbs (a banana, for example) and drink 1-2 additional cups of water.Make sure you fill and empty your bladder at least once before the race. (talking about pee, not your hydration bladder LOL).”
Race gear can make or break your race. (I’m talking wetsuits, windbreakers and shoes! ...I’ll cover other stuff later).Last season I was outfitted with the best gear from my sponsor Millbrook Tactical and it made a huge difference in my races, including winning the Spartan Ultra World Championships (in Iceland) feeling WARM and DRY.So, my recommendations for WTM...💦 1 short wetsuit: Use this depending on temperature. It will keep your core warm and it is less restrictive. Tri suits are best!💦1 full wetsuit: I prefer a 3/4mm thickness because I can still run comfortably in this. Go thicker if you can’t run anymore.💦 Wetsuit hoods: Cuz it can get cold out there and a wet buff or hat won’t work.💦Waterproof jacket: And legit my favorite... Get yourself an Arc’teryx Gamma MX Hoody jacket. This jacket will stop the wind from hitting your obviously wet, wetsuit. It’s highly durable, breathable and mobile👟Shoes: Trail runners, and have multiples. Have a pair that is 1-2 sizes larger for later in the race. Your feet will swell and you’ll thank me later.
I love this trick! Using a plastic bag will SAVE you time: you can keep your muddy nasty shoes on and the wetsuit will slide right over the bag. It’s a game changer, and one of my biggest secrets!
“Perseverance is a warrior's greatest weapon.”
In an ultra event, mental grit is so important! You need to dig deep and ask yourself “WHY?” Why is this race important to you? Why are YOU here!? I can guarantee that WTM and Spartan Ultra Worlds will SUCK at some points, and that’s when mental grit comes into play. Keep going!!! Never give up!!!
I have failed a few times in my past and I will tell you exactly why that happened: I was either underprepared or my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t have a "why," I just felt like I had to be there.
I absolutely love this photo; It’s been a rocky year for me, and this photo makes me feel like a super hero! The quote reminds me of my “why” which has always been perseverance. I am Morgan and I always overcome all of the obstacles thrown at me, and I enjoy life to it’s fullest no matter what!
Okay so you are about to run the hardest race on the planet for 24 hours. It’s going to hurt! If possible, bring a pit crew, bring someone who genuinely cares about you. Running these races can be incredibly stressful, so it’s important to surround yourself with positive and uplifting people that will make your race their #1 priority.Be selective, this is YOUR race. I would honestly rather rely on myself than have a pit crew with someone bringing me down, and distracting from my focus. So make sure you bring someone who will support you and your goals, and can take care of you if things go wrong. In my case, I got knocked out!Have a clear and simple race strategy -- write out a few simple instructions your crew can follow. Trust me on this, everyone gets a little stupid around 3am when it’s freezing out! I get especially stupid, so I need my crew to remind me to eat and drink water.
If you are racing solo, there is help out there for you! A super amazing group of Tough Mudders operate an "Orphan" tent, this tent is for people who don’t have a crew with them and need some help. This group of amazing people will HELP you, and they do it for free! So if you are arriving solo, make sure to find this wonderful tent palace! Maybe bring them some donuts and coffee!?
This tip is super important! When running an ultra event I always recommend the following:- Clip your toenails the night before!- Morning of, use athletic tape to tape the hot spots on your feet. For me it’s my heels and the outer sides of my feet. This will help prevent blisters from happening.- Use Vaseline or Trail Toes to get in between your toes! This will help reduce the constant friction.- Wear Mud Gear socks, I have been using these socks for YEARS! I never have to change my socks during an ultra, and that saves me valuable time!- Make sure to have a pair of shoes on hand that is 1-2 sizes bigger than your typical shoe size. During an ultra, feet like to swell!
This is super important! Test out ALL of your gear before race day! That means get in freezing cold water and run around like a weirdo with your wetsuit on, and make sure your gear fits and is going to work!
Last year I made a rookie mistake: I ordered my wetsuit and it came in two days before the race and it was a bit too small. I thought it would be okay, but it was so tight on my chest that I found it hard to breathe...not good! So I got a new suit for this year. It just came in and I just tested it out! It’s the perfect size, it keeps me warm and I can move in it!
The same rule goes for hydration packs and shoes: don’t wait until race day to realize that your gear is too small, or isn’t going to work.
There are tons of different ways to fuel yourself in an ultra race, but the main thing is finding what will work best for you. It’s good to test out foods before race day. During an ultra event, it’s super important to stay hydrated and take electrolytes. How much depends on the person, so pay attention to your body!
For fuel, I aim to eat every 30-45mins, and I’ll eat small amounts. That way my body is being constantly fed, but I’m not having to digest a large amount of food while racing. I really love foods like: Tailwind, baby food, gels, and bananas! I need foods that will be easy to digest and can fit in my hydration pack! I even put together my own personalized bundle of picks from Fierce Gear OCR...check it out here.
Running an ultra event is amazing! It takes lots of hard work and dedication. All of the hard training is done now, and it’s time to taper.It’s super important to have fun on course, and truly enjoy the experience of running around with a bunch of other crazy people for 24hours! Remind yourself that you have trained to be here for the last year, and if times get tough, go back to your why, and smile!
I am really looking forward to seeing everyone out there and enjoying the experience. That’s my #1 goal :) See you all soon!