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Tough Mudder Tips

I ran my Tough Mudder in the following…

  • Adidas Climacool Fitted Jersey (team uniform).
  • UnderArmour ColdGear long-sleeve top underneath.
  • Brooks quick-drying Running Shorts.
  • UnderArmour ColdGear leggings underneath.
  • A pair of lightweight Nike Dri-fit fingerless workout gloves.
  • Dri-fit socks.
  • New Balance Cross Country Racing flats.

UA ColdGear: I had read mixed suggestions about UnderArmour ColdGear, because it’s slightly more absorbent than some other fast-drying fabrics, but I really believe this UA gear kept me warm(ish) as long as possible. The fact is, you will be very cold at some parts of the race, regardless of what you wear. However, my ColdGear dried very quickly and kept me considerably warmer (perhaps “not freezing” is a better description) in the earlier part of the race.

Racing flats: My flats were so lightweight, the water essentially added no weight to them. I highly recommend wearing the lightest (while still supportive) shoes you own. The last thing you want is to feel like you’re running with bricks strapped to your feet for 12+ miles.

Dri-fit Gloves: Gloves were helpful for one big reason, and one smaller reason. The smaller reason is that it will help save your hands when climbing over walls. They do not, I repeat, do not help on the monkey bars. I read this in many places before my race and it was true. Some bars are greased up and even expensive gloves will not combat that. The big reason the gloves were helpful was warmth! Even wearing wet gloves, my hands were incredibly warmer than when I took them off for certain obstacles. Your hands are a crucial part of many obstacles, take care of them and keep them warm!

All other items: No complaints about my other gear. As a general rule, wear as little cotton as possible, preferably NONE AT ALL. Cotton is super-absorbent and will be the death of you on this course.
OBSTACLES:

Any obstacle that requires crawling/running in mud: Place your arms and/or legs down gently. There are often large rocks and boulders that will hurt if you aren’t careful.

Arctic Enema: I would say train with cold showers (as I did), but it didn’t help all that much. What it did help was to teach me that even if your breathing is out of control (which it will be during this obstacle), that you’re okay and just need a few seconds to catch it. I saw some people trying to climb out the sides or over the wall into the barbed wire. DO NOT panic like this. Jump in, catch your breath for a moment, dip under the wall, and get out fast. You’ll be fine. Also, make sure the person ahead of you is almost getting out when you jump in (some people got stuck in the tank because a person ahead of them was struggling to climb out).

Death March: Most people I saw walked this obstacle, so don’t feel ashamed if you have to take a break. I mixed running with walking, as long uphill stretches can destroy your calves and it was too early in the race to risk this.

Hold Your Wood: First, pick a reasonably-sized log. Don’t try to prove something by taking a huge one. Keep alternating shoulders and different grips to work different muscles and avoid exhaustion.

Everest: Spend a few minutes watching others run up. You’ll probably have to do this anyway as you wait your turn. Watching can help you find a good path with enough traction to get you up without a brutal fall. Certain parts of the quarterpipe will be more slippery than others, so it’s worth the wait to find that sweet spot. Then make eye contact with someone up top, and run for your life.

Electric Eel: This was a mystery obstacle for my race. The wires were just spread out enough that you could crawl very carefully in between them (if it’s a windy day, it’s a lost cause). By the end, however, the wires were too low, and I got shocked. My friend, however, didn’t. So it is possible to escape unscathed! Just crawl carefully and deliberately and you’ll manage. While the shock can be painful, it should be the least of your concerns in this race.

Monkey Bars and Rings: Get in a rhythm and hold on tight! If you have the grip strength, you can make it across, even on greased bars. Get a grip strengthener and use it whenever you’re sitting on the couch or watching TV. It’ll be pay dividends in your ability to cross these obstacles dryly. Also, only take one bar at a time, don’t alternate hands like you would at the playground. For the rings, I saw someone insert their entire arms in the rings up to their shoulders which seems like it would be better if your grip is exhausted. On the swing, they would slide their arm in the ring and remain suspended, holding onto both rings in their armpits until they were ready to move on.

Twinkle Toes: Use a ‘T’ foot stance. Your front foot should be facing forward, and your back foot should be perpendicular to your front foot, across the bar. After each step you take with your front foot, close the gap with your back foot. Your arms should be at 45 degree angles downward. When the bar begins to sway a lot, stop moving forward and focus on swaying your legs with the bar until it stabilizes, then continue.

Electroshock Therapy: Do not sprint through this obstacle. If you do and you get shocked, you will faceplant and end up on YouTube. Enter the obstacle at a jogging pace with your head down slightly and arms in front, protecting your face from the wires. It also helps to be wearing long sleeves/leggings because I suspect it reduces the shock somewhat. If you get shocked, just keep moving. If you fall, try to get back up because being continuously shocked in a crawling position makes it more difficult to make forward progress. If you’re standing you can build up more momentum to push you through the rest of the wires.

Good luck and remember to share this experience with people; it’s great to run in small groups!

If you’ve already run a Tough Mudder, please share any tips you have in the comments!


New Year, New List!


Last year I posted about tools and web-apps that I use to stay productive. Among the list was 101in365.com, which has since changed its name to Accompl.sh and has established itself among the ranks of simple yet popular goal-tracking tools. While I appreciated the prior restriction of 101 goals (no more, no less), the limit has been taken away, leaving hordes of short lists with less creative or inspiring goals. When the rule of 101 was in place, I felt the site really challenged the list-maker to think about and rank the value of their goals, both big and small. The beauty of being forced to create such a long list is that you could set a long-term goal (“pay off student loans”) or a less significant but still important goal (“change my own oil”). Regardless, the website serves whatever purpose the user wants to make of it. My 2011-2012 list expired today (Day 365), and I have just locked my 2012-2013 list. My new list has 101 goals in spirit of the early incarnation of Accompl.sh and consists of goals I did not cross of my last list as well as new ones. Some of the goals I look forward to completing include…

 

14. Reach the 150 mark of IMDb’s Top 250
26. Go to The Moth
37. Finish reading the Millenium Trilogy (shout out to Teacher Girl)
60. Perfect the moonwalk
83. Vote in the 2012 General Election
98. Gain 100 Twitter followers (@eknud, help me get there!)
99. Write at least 24 blog posts

 

In the past 365 days I completed 68/101 goals and had 6 in progress when the list’s period ended today. I feel I accomplished a lot, but I moved all of my uncompleted goals to my new list because they are not to be forgotten! No goal will leave any of my lists until it is completed, no matter how many lists it takes. My goal this year is to complete at least 80 of the 101 goals. I believe this is realistic because in the process of reviewing my first list and making my second, I noticed which goals I tended to overlook. Primarily, I noticed goals which were not as easily defined, measured, or maintained were less likely to be crossed off. For example a goal like “floss every day” is technically a lost cause if I’m rigidly following the list (if I miss one day, I’ll have failed at it). However, if I establish clear minimums, I’m more likely to achieve my goals. For example, writing “Attend church 24 times” instead of “twice a month” allows for more flexibility; if there’s a month I only attend it once, I can make up for it in later months and still complete the goal. Through this and some other realizations, I feel I’ve made a much better list this year than last!

I listed just a few goals above, but there are many more! Check out my full list here. Then make your own and join the Accompl.sh revolution in 2012. Perhaps you’ll actually remember what you want to accomplish (pun intended) this year.


Graduate School: Blessing or Curse?

Pros and ConsI finally finished all of my graduate school interviews two weeks ago, and I’ve since received responses from all of my programs. I am extremely fortunate to have been accepted to eight doctoral programs (I’m not sure how I managed it). Oddly, the more acceptances I received, the more anxiety I’ve had about making a decision. I’ve  caught myself wishing I’d been accepted into just one program (which I realize is an absurd and ungrateful wish). It has been an extremely drawn out and stressful process to get into these programs, and yet its completion lacks any sense of relief.

Ultimately I’ve narrowed my choices to three programs, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Here they are:

University A
Degree: 5-year Psy.D in School Psychology
Where: 3 hours away
Funding: Full tuition remission + $7000 stipend.


University B
Degree: 5-year Psy.D in School Psychology
Where: Home
Funding: Potential for full tuition remission (highly likely but not guaranteed); may not find out before I have to make decision.

University C
Degree: 5-6 year Ph.D in Educational Psychology
Where: Home
Funding: First year free, work-study and adjunct opportunities in later years.

It seems like an obvious choice if I’m just considering finances: University A. However, the stipend would cover living expenses and not much else. At home I have no living expenses, and I really believe I’d be happier at home. University A was my undergraduate school, and I feel strongly that four years there was enough; it’s not a place I want to settle down or begin to live my adult life. Still, it has the only guaranteed funding.

For University B, fellowships with full tuition remission will be awarded within the next two weeks. After that, I’d have to accept the offer in order to find an assistantship (which I’ve been told are abundant at this school) to cover most or all of my tuition. Though it’s likely I’d find an assistantship, it’s a $30,000 gamble, but it’s the school I’d like to be at most.

For University C, a public university, I would have the first year covered and no guaranteed funding after that, but a bunch of work opportunities. The tuition is also dirt cheap because it’s a public school (5 years of tuition at University C equals ONE year at University B). It’s also a different degree type (Ph.D vs. Psy.D) which may help me to find jobs in academia, but my desired career path really involves working for school districts, not teaching at universities.

Based on this extremely limited (but vital) information, what might you do? Would you be concerned more about the financial aspect of graduate school, or where you would be happier? A degree with a wider range of job opportunities, or one that trains you strictly for the job of your dreams? For those of you in grad school or with graduate degrees, did you face a similar choice?