If you’re looking to shake up your running routine, mud runs and obstacle course races are a fantastic way to get out of a running rut and a fun way to challenge yourself. Here are some tips to make sure you don’t end up getting stuck in the mud:
1. Pick an appropriate race.
From Tough Mudders to Spartan Races to Muderellas, there are many different variations of muddy obstacle races out there. The courses and degree of difficulty vary greatly so, if you’re a first-timer, look for an entry-level race like the Spartan Sprint (3.1 miles + 15 obstacles). Even if you’re an experienced runner, you may want to start off with one of the beginner-level races to get your feet wet. You could always move up to the more challenging level in your next race.
2. Do your homework.
Some races pride themselves on having some “surprises” on their courses, but there is information about the races out there. Check the race website for video clips, photos, and race reviews so you can see what type of obstacles to expect. YouTube also has a lot of video clips from races as well as tutorials from race participants. Talk to friends who have done the race and ask them about the obstacles on their course. Knowing what you’re getting into will help you mentally prepare for both the training and the race itself.
3. Give yourself enough time.
Most beginner runners could be ready for a Spartan Sprint in two months, but for a longer mud race such as a Tough Mudder (12 miles), you’ll want to give yourself at least three to four months.
4. Work on your stamina.
To build your endurance safely, you can follow a run training program that’s closest to the distance of your race. So, for a 12-mile Tough Mudder, you can follow a half marathon training program. You’ll most likely be running on an uneven surface during the race, so it’s smart to do some of your training runs on trails.
5. Build your strength.
Of course, a training program consisting of solely running is not going to cut it for a mud run. You’ll need to build strength as well as stamina. Check out the course website to see if they offer a training program or email course to follow. Some mud race participants like to work with a personal trainer to help guide (and motivate) them through strengthening exercises. You don’t need to do hard-core strengthening at the gym, but you will need to work regular strength-training into your routine. Moves such as push-ups, pull-ups, planks, squats, lunges, and kettlebell swings. If you’re doing a Spartan race, make sure you’re working burpees into your training routine, since you’ll have to do them as penalties for skipping obstacles.
6. Be prepared with the right gear.
Don’t plan on wearing your brand-new, out-of-the-box running shoes for this race. While you’ll need a pair of supportive running shoes (trail running shoes are an excellent choice), they’ll get filthy and it will be tough to get all the mud off. Your clothes will also get muddy and, although most of the dirt will wash out, you still won’t want to wear favorite your favorite outfit. Wear clothes that are form-fitting because anything loose will get weighed down with extra mud. You’ll also want to make sure you’re wearing clothes made from technical fabric so they’ll dry quickly. If it’s not too hot, wear clothes that cover your upper arms and knees, since those areas are prone to scrapes from rocks and barbed wire. To get more ideas on how to dress appropriately for the race, check out the race website and look at photos and videos, and ask friends who have done a mud run before.
7. Get a team together.
Mud races are even more fun when you’re racing with some buddies. And you’ll be able to help support each other during the obstacles. Getting over a wall is much easier when your brawny friends are boosting you up! The race itself is a unique bonding experience and training for the race together will help keep you motivated. You’ll have a lot more fun celebrating after the race if your friends are there to share in the celebration.