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Down ’n Dirty Mud Runs Can Be Challenging, Messy & Fun!

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— May 3, 2017

Down ’n Dirty Mud Runs Can Be Challenging, Messy & Fun!

  • Mud running is a unique and fun experience that challenges your normal comfortable boundaries while still accompanying the fun!
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Is trail running a little too clean for your tastes? Then what you need a slog through mud. The surface isn’t the only difference in a mud run, says Pete McCall, MS, CSCS, certified trainer and a participant in many mud runs, including the branded Spartan variety (spartan. com, @SpartanRace). “Most are interval training-based and include obstacles,” says McCall. So besides running prowess, you also need strength to scramble over a wall or to climb a rope. A usual running workout focuses on endurance but mud runs require sprinting 800 meters between obstacles. And you can only prepare for what you know, which can be unpredictable. “Typically, races provide a list of most of their obstacles, but they always keep a few ‘hidden’ as a surprise for race day,” McCall says.

Getting Ready to Mud Know what’s ahead before signing up, advises McCall. “Climbing a 6-foot wall, crawling under barbed wire or flipping a heavy tire (all happen at a Spartan Race) are things you might not do during a normal workout, so it’d be a good idea to do them a few times before a race.” Mix in interval runs along with your endurance work to prepare you for the mud run sprinting format. And be prepared to get down on all fours. “Practice crawling and standing up or running from a crawling position to prepare yourself for obstacles you will need to crawl under or around,” McCall says. Tough Mudder (tough mudder.com, @Tough Mudder), another branded series of runs, recommends the following workout: • 10 pullups • 20 pushups • 20 kettlebell swings • 10 dips • 20 goblet squats • 20 kettlebell swings • 10 upright rows • 20 situps After the set, rest for one minute. Repeat for five rounds.

Race Day Tips

Get your Zs: Getting a good night’s sleep beforehand can help you think clearly as well as reduce the risk of a fatigue-related injury.

Leave plenty of time: Arrive early, says McCall, who adds that “parking is often far from the start of the race.”

Layer up: Wearing layers helps you stay warm, especially since races start in the morning when it’s cool; it can get warm if it’s a longer race or you’re in a later race, says McCall. “Plus, I recommend wearing old clothes and shoes you don’t mind throwing away at the end, as they’re often completely thrashed.” Many races donate used shoes from participants afterward.

Be equipped: For hot climates, a hydration pack is a good idea. “There are water stations, but depending on the length of the race, it might be a good idea to have water/sports drink at the ready,” says McCall. Skip the selfies, too, he says. GoPros “just get in the way.”

Protect yourself: Neoprene sleeves work well to protect knees during crawls. Tough Mudder suggests waterproof sunscreen for all exposed skin and a hat and sunglasses during hot weather.

Choose buddies wisely: Want to take on the mud with your bros? Make sure they can tough it out first, says McCall. “You don’t want to keep waiting for someone who always needs help, and you don’t want to be that person slowing your friend(s) down.”

Be safe: “Mud runs are certainly fun and competitive, but they also increase your injury risk,” says Mike Fernandes, co-originator of Triple F Firefighter Fitness in New York City (via Facebook). Uneven terrain, running on the side of a hill and non-landscaped grounds can all lead to ankle and knee injuries for even the most experienced participants. Rolling an ankle is always a risk, so keep an eye out for where you place your foot. Add to this slippery shoes from mud, water, and ice, and traction also becomes an issue. “Be aggressively careful,” advises Fernandes.

Know your limits: If you’re not a strong swimmer, skip the water obstacles. You will not receive a penalty for skipping an obstacle in a Tough Mudder race. “Some Spartan races have a ‘penalty’ like 30 burpees,” says McCall. In addition, never jump or dive into water, or flip off any obstacles.

Enjoy yourself: If it isn’t fun, why do it? “My favorite thing is the chance to climb, play in the mud and be a kid again for a morning,” says McCall. “Now I just need to remember to bring a change of clothes and a trash bag (an essential must-have) so I don’t thrash my car on the way home.” FEELING GOOD DL

 

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