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This year, half a million people worldwide will participate in a Tough Mudder race, the world’s most difficult mud obstacle course. Millions more will lace up their dirty gym shoes for mud runs like the Spartan Race, the Warrior Dash, and the Run For Your Life zombie race.
Are you participating in a mud run this year? If so, here’s the 411 on everything that you need to know, from what to pack, to what to eat the morning of the event.
We asked people who have been there, done that to give up their secrets:
Name: Jill Diamond
Jill is the Events Director at Lewis and Roca LLP in Phoenix, Arizona.
Races Completed: Tough Mudder, Spartan Beast, Rugged Maniac, Warrior Dash, Irvine Lake Mud Run, Kiwi Dash, Cahoots Duo Challenge, Toro Loco Challenge, Mad Mud Run and 5K Foam Fest.
Jill’s Tips for Having Fun:
1) Sign up for an early heat. The earlier you run, the closer your parking space will be. If you are close enough to walk to the staging area you can leave your gear in your car. This will cut down on time spent in the Gear Check line before and after the race. Also, the earlier your heat is, the less of a back up there will be at the obstacles. It’s no fun to wait 20 minutes to complete an obstacle!
2) Sign up with friends. Obstacles are more fun when you take them on as a team and sometimes, like in the Tough Mudder or Cahoots, the obstacles are designed to require assistance to complete.
3) Bring along a non-racing friend to take pictures. The event photographers provided by the race are likely to charge $20 or more per photo, if they even get a photo of you. They are also stationed at only one or two places on the course. Bringing a friend with a camera ensures that you get pictures of you rocking a variety of obstacles.
What to Pack:
1) Don’t count on the race providing decent showers after the event. Many times you have volunteers with firehoses who only want to wash down the hot babes, while the rest of us wait to catch a few drips. Other times they provide barely running hoses with hour long waits to use them.
- Bring towels to put over your car seats in case you are still muddy when you leave.
- Bring a gallon of water to use to wash your feet.
- Bring empty grocery bags to put your dirty clothes and dirty shoes in (Many times you can donate your muddy shoes to charity after the race. Unless your shoes are at the end of their life, keep them and wash them for future mud runs.)
2) Water. Many people say not to wear a camelbak during the races as it will slow you down and or get caught on barbed wire or nets you crawl under. I always wear one because I’ve done too many new races who don’t adequately prepare for the number of runners they get and end up not having enough water at the aid stations. If you are doing Tough Mudder, Spartan or another big name race, this probably won’t happen, but I don’t take the chance. I race in Arizona where it is hot and dry, water is essential for me. I take it off for crawling and swimming obstacles.
3) Gloves or no gloves? I bring gloves and put them in my camelbak. I haven’t used them yet, but if an obstacle calls for them, I will have them ready!
4) A good attitude. These races are supposed to be fun, so unless you are aiming for a top 3 finish, lighten up and have fun!
How to Prepare:
2) Climb walls. Climb your fence to your yard, climb the fence at the school. Climb over something!
3) Push-ups. Upper body strength is required for many of the obstacles you’ll face.
Protip: At the end of a Spartan, you have to face the jousting gladiators who try to knock you down. If you run up and hug them, it takes them completely by surprise and they forget to attack you.
Name: Daniel Foley
Daniel is a father and full-time employee at Hanover Insurance in Massachusetts, Foley has found time in his busy schedule to participate in these activities and blogs regularly about his experience. Check out his blog here.
Races completed: I’ve run about a dozen half marathons and two full marathons (Boston 2011 & Boston 2012) in the past two years. I’ve trained hard the past year to increase speed and strength and participate in countless 5k and 10k roadraces. As I improve my goal has been to continously challenge and better myself. I participated in the Mount Snow/New England 2012 Tough Mudder on May 6.
Daniel’s Advice for Mud Runs:
1) Upper body strength is a must. My team held weekly push up contests to challenge ourselves. Each week we went head to head to beat our past goal and be the member that could do the most push-ups.
2) Conditioning: just being able to run isn’t enough. I had trained for the 2012 Boston Marathon prior to the Mudder. My training included lots of leg work outs (squats and lunges), but by far the most important workout was my weekly hill runs. I found a hill that was about a quarter mile long at about a 45 degree incline. I started my first week by running 2 miles (4 up and 4 down) and increased over the weeks to 5 miles. I did this work out 1-2 times a week for twelve weeks. This was by far the best prep for the Mount Snow Mudder as most of it was up and down the mountain.
3) Teamwork: You can’t do this alone! Rely on your team and even complete strangers to help each other over obstacles and to push each other through the mental challenges of defeat. Staying side by side with a team member and giving and sharing encouragement can go a long way.
4) Don’t give up! Even if you’re tired and feel like you can’t do an obstacle, you can! Most importantly, don’t let anyone on your team give up. Toward the end of the Mudder was a 12 foot wall. I had climbed over an 8 foot one earlier in the Mudder and felt I had already proved to myself I could do this and so helped my team over and then walked around. I regret this – I wish someone on my team had pushed me, or that I had pushed myself. Don’t have regrets!
5) Clothing: wear gloves – they’ll prevent blisters. Wear long sleeves and tights or long pants – it’ll prevent your legs from getting torn up when you’re crawling through the rocks and mud. Don’t wear cotton; wear some sort of material that pulls moisture away from the skin. You’ll get cold pretty quickly with all the ice baths that Mudder throws your way!
6) Food: make sure you bring some sort of energy bar along the way for the longer Mud runs. My mudder was 11 miles and it took us over 5 hours. You need energy to get through. The course had bananas available, but they ran out toward the end. I always carry Jelly Belly “Sport Beans”, but these don’t work for everyone. There are sports Gels, Powerbars, all sorts of things available. Make sure you try out what you plan on using beforehand, everyone’s body reacts differently to these. Gels don’t work for me, it’d be disaster if I learned that on the course!
7) Have fun! Pushing yourself and challenging yourself is great, but enjoy the ride. My Boston Marathon experience and Mudder experience, while exhausting, are some of the most rewarding and memorable times of my life. I had a blast and it keeps you wanting more!
Name: Brittany Manwill
Brittany is the president of Mazama Bar, an Olympia, Washington based company that offers nutrient-dense energy bars that will help you go the extra mile.
Here are Brittany’s tips for a fun and successful day in the mud:
1) Patience. Don’t run a mud-run for a PR. We waited in line for 20 minutes in the middle of our run behind a backup of people trying to get over one of the 10-foot obstacle walls. It’s a lot of fun if you don’t take it too seriously!
2) Food. Most events have some kind of post-run food, like brats and beer. But if you want something healthier for after the run or on the drive home, pack it with you. Most mud runs are held in small towns or out in rural areas with less options for food. Pack something like a Mazama Bar to give you long-lasting energy.
3) Extra contacts or backup glasses. One of my contacts came loose in the mud-pit, and trying to fix it with my muddy fingers only made things worse. I ended up just tossing the contact in the middle of the race. In case the same thing happens to you, make sure you have an extra set of contacts or your backup glasses back in the car so you can drive home safely!
4) Water. Sure, bringing water seems obvious. You’re running, right? But bring a little extra water specifically for cleaning off afterwards. The lines for the “showers” (typically PVC pipe with drip holes attached to a hose) are usually really long. Skip the lines and rinse off back at your car.
Name: Kevin Scharnek
Kevin is the president of Pretty Muddy Races, a new series of team mud running events geared towards women that will was announced on July 1.
Kevin’s Tips for a Successful Mud Run:
1) Preparation – Our mud runs later this fall will focus on all levels/skills of athleticism, so preparing for the Pretty Muddy depends on your current state of fitness. We strongly recommend all athletes prepare at a level that is consistent with your current workout schedule. And if you are not currently engaged in working out it’s a great event to begin the training process. Preparation is a VERY individual thing, and we encourage all participants to definitely walk or run several weeks prior to the event. We also recommend regular stretching and cool downs from whatever your normal routine is.
2) What to pack – We highly encourage all runners to pack an extra set of clothes, a towel, and an extra set of shoes. You’re going to get dirty and you’re going to want to clean up after the race before you jump in the car. You also don’t want to forget to bring your camera/phone to capture the fun memories. When is the next time you’ll get to be covered in mud on an obstacle course? Finally, be sure to pack comfortable shoes to put on after the event to partake in the great post race refreshment, music, snacks and more.
3) How to stay safe on the course - First and foremost, trust your instincts and know your body’s limits.
– Be aware of what you are capable of doing, but sometimes even more importantly of what you’re not capable of doing.
– All obstacles in Pretty Muddy are “voluntary,” so don’t do more than you are capable of.
– It’s important to walk away with a strong sense of accomplishment and never feel defeated. Our events are all about empowerment. We hope everyone who takes part in a Pretty Muddy Event will leave feeling motivated and encouraged.
4) Here’s how teams can have the most fun possible at the Pretty Muddy events:
– Unlike most mud runs out there, Pretty Muddy is a team-focused event geared exclusively towards women.
– Our events are designed to involve your friends and family members to truly be a part of a special day.
– Our teams consist of some women who run the events, and some who walk. We have options for everyone.
– Walking our events creates fantastic conversations that leave memorable experiences. Many teams also use our events as a way to raise dollars for a charity of their choice.
– We don’t keep track of times and places because we don’t want the anxiety involved with timing and placed finishes. It’s about the experience and achievement, no matter your time.
– Consider creating costumes/uniforms that match the personality of your team.
– Developing a team cheer to motivate yourself and your teammates is always a great way to increase team energy and engagement.
Pretty Muddy hopes to launch as a formal event offering in early July. We will be hosting 8-10 events throughout the US in 2012 and 30+ events in 2013. Our website – www.prettymuddy.com – will launch in the coming weeks.
Have you ever completed a mud run event? If so, share your tips in the comments!
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