Mud Runs: Fun For The Fit, and Not So Fit

Mud Runs are the latest in a long list of activities that draw a diverse population of athletes; professional and amateur.

Based upon military-styled obstacle courses, these races are run in the muck, mud and mire to add to the fun. Considered by many to be a serious fitness challenge, they are available at lengths that can challenge just about any competitor.

What Will You Encounter On Your Run?

The courses established for each Mud Run can vary considerably in their detail. Common obstacles include water, wire, climbing challenges and so forth. Mud is also part of the course, especially as you slip and slide you way through the field. No more than uncomfortable on warm days, it can be a serious distraction when temperatures drop. Just how deep that mud is varies as much as the races do.

Connecting and Competing

Perhaps the most popular aspect of Mud Running is the camaraderie. These off-road challenges are a wonderful opportunity to join together and support a cause. Runs are held to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Child Abuse Awareness, to provide college scholarships and fund local and national charities of all sorts. You have the choice of joining a training group or establishing your own.

Messy and Mentally Demanding

No Mud Run is without its challenges. Expect to spend your run climbing, running, crawling, running, slogging and running. Common obstacles include walls to scale, nets to climb, wire you must crawl under, mud pits to slog through and logs to surmount. If you arenâ??t used to these activities, they can be stressful.

Plan for your Mud Run as you would for any endurance event. Races are 5K or 10K in distance, and the specific challenges change frequently. Fortunately, how hard you hit the course depends entirely on you. Some walk the course, avoiding any obstacle that seems too intimidating, while other race all out, tackling everything in their path with gusto. All approaches are valid.

Extreme Mud Running

For those who find the average mud run too easy, there is a new breed of races. These extreme mud runs are longer, and offer more challenging obstacle. The Tough Mudder is 10-12 miles long, and is based upon the British Special Forces obstacle courses. In addition to the typical mud to slog through, there are logs to carry, ropes to climb, monkey bars to traverse and a muddy cliff to scramble over, and thatâ??s just the beginning. Oh, and donâ??t forget the live electric wires.

What to Wear

When planning for your mud run it pays to think about what you will be wearing come the day of the event. Your typical training gear may not be suitable. Start with the understanding that you probably wonâ??t be wearing any of your clothes again, and work from there. Avoid cottons, that get heavy when wet, and stick to spandex, Lycra and other high tech materials. If you are concerned about getting cold, consider some Under Armor type tights or long sleeve shirts. They donâ??t retain moisture, and they can keep you fairly warm, even when wet.

Hiking boots may be better than sneakers, but either way, tie them tightly so you donâ??t lose them in the mud. Running socks are short, fit snuggly and are less likely to give you blisters, but make sure they are thick enough to offer some cushioning. Finally, bring a light jacket in case of wind.

Mud Runs are available all around the country, and offer a challenging, and fun, way to team up with your best friends and spend a day extending your horizons. No matter how fit you are, you can join in an adventure you are sure to remember, always.

Image Credit: music2fish2 (eric lanning)

Derek is an active blogger. The following article is for mud running.

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