Mud runs, obstacle challenges and theme events have become all the rage for both serious athletes and the general population. With new races being developed each year, there is an event for just about every age, background and fitness level.
So whether you're a competitive athlete looking to crush every obstacle or you just want to run through some mud and have a good time, these tips will help you get the most out of your mud run experience.
Be Aware of What You're Getting Yourself Into
No matter how many races you have run, remember every event is different. You may not be looking to get the fastest time, but you should still be prepared for what you will face on race day.
Make sure you study the course and read the information on the event's website.
"When you sign up for a race, make sure you know what kind of mud run it is," says Mike Nelson, event director of the MudSlayer and Mud Titan race series. "Some events would intimidate even the best athletes and some are just about the social aspect and the post-race festivities. There are enough choices out there that if you do your homework, you can find what you're looking for."
Make Sure Your Training Fits the Event
Training for a mud run or obstacle race is different from the type of training you would do for a normal 5K, 10K, half marathon or marathon.
At an obstacle race you aren't just running for a prolonged period of time, you're running for a brief distance before you encounter the next obstacle. You want to adjust your training to fit the event, so make sure to incorporate interval training and strength training.
"On a well designed obstacle course you're not going to run more than a quarter-mile before you reach a physical challenge," Nelson says. "It doesn't do you any good to run five straight miles during training if you don't pick up weights or do strength training. Incorporate a well-designed mix of jogging and bursts of speed, and spend time building your upper-body strength."
Don't Push Yourself too Hard
The mentality behind an endurance event is to test the limits of your body and challenge yourself, but this doesn't mean taking on obstacles you aren't prepared for and putting yourself at risk for injury.
If you need to go around an obstacle because you don't feel comfortable or you're not physically prepared, it's not a bad thing. You'll keep yourself safe and won't miss out on any of the fun.
"The main reason people get hurt at these events is because they don't pay attention to their bodies, and they let the adrenaline of the moment take them over," Nelson says. "There's nothing wrong with pushing yourself, but make wise decisions and use common sense."
Remember, the only person you're competing with is yourself; be sensible and don't compare yourself with other participants.