As much time as I spend gardening with soil up to my elbows, the concept of a mud run didn't sound so foreign to me, so I was excited when my son and I , along with a boxing buddy signed up for our first mud run (Rugged Maniac) a few years back and we had a muddy blast!
Since the appearance of the Tough Guy Race in 1987, the number of various obstacle focused races has steadily increased with dozens of races to sign up for each year. Obstacle races and mud runs are off-track sporting events designed to challenge the mind and body to extremes. Some races track distances of three miles, while others continue beyond ten miles, each with obstacles placed along the trail. Many athletes compete in these races for cash and other prizes, but you don’t have to be an elite athlete to enter a race for fun, you only need the guts and determination to finish the race, albeit a sweaty or muddy mess.
You'll need breathable, comfortable clothes that you could care less about since they will be reduced to muddy drapes by the end. Additionally, be prepared to be digging mud out of your ears for days after the race. Are you catching the theme here? There will be mud, lots of mud. Yay!
Having completed an obstacle race myself with a friend and my son - good times. I have to say that it was one of the funnest fitness activities I've ever done and will absolutely do it again in the future. You don't have to struggle with the ten-miler for your first race; try the easier races to start.
Pre-race training: To have entered one of these crazy races, you are probably already aware if you need to be concerned about your current fitness or underlying health conditions, if not, now is the time for assessment. But, even if you’re not an elite athlete or gym rat, you can increase your endurance and strength by beginning a simple training routine a month or two before the race, and following these easy tips.
- If you’re new to jogging or running, start of slow with a daily brisk walk for two to three miles, gradually increasing your speed each day. By The following week begin jogging, increasing speed daily and continuing until you can keep up a fast-paced jog for thirty minutes adding in a sprint at the end. Always warm up with light moves, such as jumping jacks, and cool down with adequate stretching to reduce muscle pain later on. If running is already part of your routine, then go ahead and add in the short sprinting bursts during and at the end of your run. It'll help, really.
- Burpees are the perfect total body move, improving coordination, as well as muscle and cardio endurance. Burpees are performed from standing position, bend to place both hands on the floor and kick your feet back into plank position. Immediately jump your feet back toward your hands and jump up toward the ceiling from a squatting position, return to the standing position to begin again. If you’re not used to burpees, they are a challenging move. Do as many as you can in twenty seconds, rest for ten seconds. Repeat for three minutes for three sets, resting one minute in between each three minute set. Beginners may only get a few per set, but will get stronger each day this is performed, which will help in executing the many wall climbs and climbs up muddy slopes.
- Jumping rope. Jumping rope is a great way to increase stamina. Add in a few minutes of jumping rope every other day, or every day if you want a challenge, to drastically improve endurance. Start with 3-minutes, one set, working your way up to four sets of 3-minutes each with one minute rest in between. Doesn't sound like a lot, but give it three minutes (if you're not used to it) and your legs will be burning jello - but in a good way. :)
- Pull-ups. The ability to do pull-ups will go a long way in conquering every obstacle in the race without having to pass on to the next one. Do as many reps as you can for three sets each day. If you have trouble completing a full pull-up, modify the move by using bands, a chair -place one foot on the chair as you pull up and be careful- or use pull-up assisting equipment at a gym.
- Clean up your eating. No one says you have to eat like a monk, but ease up on the junk food, sweets, soda, and alcohol - I can teach you how to get rid of these nasties for good! The junk and sweets will weigh you down, and the alcohol will make you tired and dehydrated. Drink plenty of water.
- Getting adequate sleep will help you recover from your daily work-outs and get you mentally ready to endure the monster of a race you’ve signed up for, so why sell yourself short by starting off tired. Stop your training routine two days prior to the race for recovery and get some sleep!
- Sign up with friends, family, co-workers, or your kids (check out http://ocrkids.com/ for kids races). Many people sign up together for a fun group challenge and the additional motivation. Some racers even wear funny costumes, but nothing says friendship like watching a buddy try to cross a lateral bar over a muddy pit, only to fall-in and get covered in mud. Good times, indeed.
Obstacle races are a great activity to enjoy fitness and fresh air. The most important tip is to not take it too seriously, if you’re not competing, just try your best and have fun, and you’ll look forward to the next race. So get out there and have fun! Oh, and be sure to wear clothes and shoes that you don't mind throwing away. I think I said that already, but it bears repeating......no - seriously, there's no gettin' that mud out.