Have a mud run on your race calendar this year? Here are 10 tips that will help you stay strong (and upright!) until the finish line.
Don't Be Intimidated
Sure, the idea of scaling a 15-foot wall or diving into a mud pit may scare the pants off of you, but remember, it's all about having fun. So if you're anxious about being able to finish, don't be. Though some races like Tough Mudder (12 miles) and the Spartan Beast (13 miles) and Ultra Beast (26 miles) are geared toward experienced athletes, others are open to beginners. So find one that meets your fitness level. "An average person can train four times a week and be prepared enough to finish the sprint," says Jeff Godin, Ph.D., a coaching director for the Spartan Races. "We see all shapes and sizes."
Once you're registered, do your homework. You'll want to know what you'll have to scale, slither through, or swim in, so school yourself in the course and every obstacle. Check out your event's website (or YouTube) for video clips, photos and blog posts so you're at least mentally prepared for what lies ahead. "Watching videos from previous races help you picture in your mind's eye accomplishing the obstacles," says Godin.
For races like the Tough Mudder, you'll want to give yourself 3 to 4 months to get fit enough to tackle the 12-mile course, while you may be race-ready for shorter events like the Spartan Sprint in eight weeks. Your best bet? Make your race a long-term goal rather than an impulse move. After all, there's extra incentive for planning ahead: "The sooner you sign up for an event, the better price you'll get," says Alex Patterson, Tough Mudder's chief culture officer. "And once you've registered, there's no good reason not to get your training started right away."
To get your legs and lungs ready to cover the distance of your race, you'll want to train accordingly. "At the minimum, you should be able to run up to 5 miles, 2 to 3 times a week," says Patterson of Tough Mudder. A basic half marathon training plan is a good place to start for races over 10 miles, though most event series offer online training schedules tailored to specific fitness levels.