Before doing the Original Mud Run, the Warrior Dash and (most recently) the Spartan Sprint, I spent a lot of time googling things like what to expect in a mud run, what to wear in a mud run, what obstacles should I expect, how to train for a mud run, and can I get a disease from the bacteria in the mud and so on and so on… To be honest, I found very few helpful articles. The tips I found were vague and/or obvious.
So, since I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I have decided to write it myself! I recently completed the Spartan Sprint (which is my fav mud run so far) and after three completed mud runs I say I am now qualified to give my own list of tips. Here’s my What to Expect/Do/Wear in a Mud Run list!
What to Wear
Wear clothes that you won’t be upset about if they get stained. Make sure they are fitted and NOT cotton. Cotton will get soaked, heavy and start stretching. I opt for dark clothes because they clean up well. Don’t wear shorts. Shorts are just asking for worse scrapes and bruises. I’ve heard of people duct taping their shoes, but mine have never ever even almost come off. I’ve also worn the same pair of old Nike’s in all three mud runs. I just toss em’ in the washer and save em’ for the next muddy race! I’ve also never worn gloves or felt the need for them.
Wear your hair back and secure it with whatever it takes. My hair is long and thick. It is near impossible to keep up while working out. During the mud runs I either braid it into a bun or wear a tight bun on top of my heat with a couple of hairbands, hairspray and a headband. This last thing I want is my hair in my face… well, truthfully, the last thing I want is mud in my eyes. I’ve tried coming up with a cute way to wear my hair, but that just doesn’t work in mud runs.
Stick together and stay positive
Unless you are training to place and are running in the competitor’s wave, do not give a shit about your time. These races can get crowded, you may have to wait your turn and it’s all about having fun and completing the race. We like to do these kinds of runs with our friends and we like to stick together. If someone gets tired and needs to walk, we all walk. We support one another, cheer each other, help one another through the obstacles and cross the finish line together. It’s a lot more fun that way, promise. (Plus, you all get the same medal anyways.)
What to pack
Pack clean clothes (obvi), I suggest packing loose fitting pants. I’ve learned the hard way that it is near impossible to put on leggings when your legs are never going to get completely dry. Baby wipes to clean those nooks and crannies, extra gallons of water (because sometimes the spray off area really sucks and it’s freezing), extra towels for drying off and sitting on in the car, a sheet to change behind (because often there are no changing tents), flip flops for afterwards, band-aids, snack because it is along car ride to and from (for most people), a spectator with a camera!
How to prepare/train
MOST people who are in this race are not in the best shape ever, but most have at least been training. It is not easy. This specific Spartan Sprint in Fort Campbell, TN was 5 miles. It had some seriously difficult obstacles (i.e. carrying a 5 gallon bucket without a handle and full of rocks up and over a giant hill, climbing a 30 foot rope without knots, dragging super heavy weighted metal sled through the mud, etc, etc). No one is going to force you to do something you simply can’t do, but your going to want to do it all. Plus, you don’t want to be unable to walk the next day.. I suggest focusing your training on running hills, long distance, push-ups, lunges, burpees and pull-ups. Upper body strength and endurance are top-priority.
Be a team player
I touched on this topic above, but it’s not just about sticking with your workout buddies. Support the other runners too. I cannot tell you how nice it is to hear people cheering each other on and cheering you on. And, even if you have teammates, you will need a stranger’s help at some point. I had people help pull me up muddy walls, help me down muddy hills, give me tips on the bouldering wall and much more. You will also want to watch the people in front of you tackle the obstacles. Learn from their mistakes and triumphs.
What to expect
Expect to get soaked to the bone wet, get scraped up and bleed a little, get mud absolutely everywhere (think ears, eyes, underwear, etc), be cold (before and after – depending on the weather), see someone cry, be sore, have an awesome day and feel like a badass.
You will not die (most likely)
You will not die. If you can’t complete an obstacle, you are told to do 30 burpees. Is someone going to watch you do them? Count them? Scold you if you skip it? No, no and no. Every mud run wants you to think it is the hardest, scariest, most challenging thing you will ever attempt, but truthfully… taking Luna to the grocery store is scarier. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tough, but if you are training for it, it’s totally doable. As far as getting a flesh-eating bacterial disease from the mud? Well, just don’t google any articles about it before you run… it’s still up for debate.
We typically get Starbucks, a cupcake and go out for a giant lunch. We spend the night binging on movies and snacks and plan to have a lazy Sunday afterwards. What can I say? We know how to party.
If you like being active, adventurous and tackling a challenge then definitely sign up for a mud run. (Except the Orignal Mud Run…remember how disappointing that one was?) We are seriously considering signing up for the next level up Spartan race – the Spartan Super or maybe the Tough Mudder.
H ave you done a mud run? Got any tips to add to the list? I’d love to hear about your experiences!