Friday, March 15, 2013

Just a Few Mud Run Tips

Me, sliding out of a mud tunnel at Rugged Maniac. (Photo Credit)

So I realized I haven't posted anything about my recent mud run experiences. In case you are wondering what all the hype is about, here's my two cents....

They are AWESOME!

For me, a mud run or obstacle race is several things:

1. A goal to keep me physically disciplined and pushing my limits
2. An opportunity to do something adventurous
3. A practice in teamwork
4. Just something crazy to keep things interesting!

In December 2012, I ran Tough Mudder with two friends. It was a 12 mile course with about 25 obstacles scattered throughout. Then a couple weeks ago, I ran Rugged Maniac with even more friends. It was a 5K (3.1 miles) course with close to 20 obstacles.

Both were challenging in their own way -- both were incredibly fun! And I would definitely do another.

It might be strange that I love them so much. I never liked being dirty. Never enjoyed sandboxes, or mud piles. When I cook, I constantly rinse my hands if there's food on them. I just don't like grit. But during a mud run, those preferences disappear. I am immersed in the thrill of conquering fears, pushing limits, and just having fun!

If you haven't done a mud/obstacle race yet but you're thinking about it, I'll break down the differences between Tough Mudder and Rugged Manic (based on my experiences), then list some helpful tips.

Everest at Tough Mudder. One of the scariest obstacles!

Tough Mudder Pros
  • For those who like endurance, the course is a good challenge: 10-12 miles, 25 obstacles, average 3 hours to complete
  • Values teamwork and completion, not scoring the best time
  • Many obstacles require teamwork, like the Wounded Warrior where you have to carry a teammate (or hop on one foot if you don't have a teammate). Teammates are also great for those like me that can't scale a 12 foot wall on their own...
  • Training for this event means consistent, full-body workouts and cardio endurance -- you're gonna get in shape!
  • The swag is fun: a Tough Mudder sweatband, UnderArmor Tough Mudder Shirt... and if you like beer, there's that, for free.
Tough Mudder Cons
  • So many people! There were thousands at our event, and unfortunately, so many people that the parking lot was overloaded. Many people missed their start times; my friend got stuck in the parking lot for 2 hours after the race. Not every Tough Mudder is like that - but you will have a lot of people on the course with you (which can be a pro or con, actually).
  • Expensive. Depending on when you register, you could pay anywhere from $100-$200. Yikes! (It was worth it for a one-time experience, I think.)
  • So. Sore. .... Ok this depends on how fit you are. But it was my first obstacle race and first time being that active for 3 hours. My legs looked like raw meat (from bruising) and I could barely walk for a week or so. (Still, totally worth it.)
About to finish at Rugged Maniac.

Rugged Maniac Pros
  • Not as much training is required, so just about anyone can do it and survive! 
  • The obstacle/mile ratio was awesome and challenging. It was more about overcoming challenges than it was about running.
  • We got to run for FREE! Rugged Maniac has a couple different options for you to earn a free race - we volunteered at the event in the morning, then they put us in an afternoon wave. It was great!
  • You can choose to be timed or just race for fun.
  • Runners get a free T-shirt... (so do volunteers)...and a free beer, again, if that's your thing. (Two free shirts. Woo!)
 Rugged Maniac Cons
  • They didn't assign race bibs. Not a biggie - I just like to collect them. And finding our photos was a little more difficult with out a number assigned.

Balance beam over a mud pit - Rugged Maniac

Mud Run Tips
  • Train for it. Whatever level race you choose, you will want your body to be prepared to move...and to move in a bunch of weird ways. Don't just run - lift weights, do calisthenics. CrossFit-type workouts are perfect.
  • Sign up early. This will save you a lot of money.
  • Be prepared to overcome fears. You will probably encounter 20-foot walls, fire pits, mysterious waters, strange people, awkward changing rooms, nasty porta-potties, dead fish, costume characters...if you fear anything, it will probably be at a mud run. You will get over it.
  • Wear clothes that dry fast. Avoid cotton and anything baggy -it will only weigh you down. I run in my compression pants and a tight Dri-Fit type shirt. They are comfortable and easy to move in.
  • Wear whatever shoes you train in. Unless they have horrible traction (you don't want to slide around in the mud). You can get shoes clean again so don't feel like you have to throw them away afterwards. I just hose mine off really good after the race (remove the insole) then set them outside to dry. Once dry, I knock out any loose sand, and they are good to go again!
  • Take it easy entering mud pits. Don't jump right in. Stay quick & light on your toes. If you are too aggressive, you will risk losing your shoes.
  • Bring these items to the event: plastic bags for wet clothes, change of clothes, towel, a jug of water (in case "showers" aren't working), drinking water, food.
  • Run with friends. It's just better that way!
  • Have fun being AWESOME!