How to do a Mud Run

how to do a mud run

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!

Before the Spartain race
Our “before” photo. So CLEAN.
Spartan start line
Crossing the start line!

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.

wall climb Spartan Race
Climbing this giant wall with the teamwork.
barbed wire spartan
100 yards of army crawling under barbed wire! Ouch. BTW, crawl, don’t roll. You’ll just come out super dizzy.

Hair tips

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.

wading through water Spartan
this water was FREEZING!
rope mud climb Spartan
yeah, we totally needed help once we got to the top of this slippery climb

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.)

we are spartans

fake guns spartan
umm, this is my tough face

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!

teamwork spartan
what friends are for, thanks for the moral support Mike!
mud pit Spartan
My face says it all. I definitely cut my butt on a sharp rock coming down. ouch

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.


mud hills spartan race
Waiting to do the first slide together.
real faces mud pit spartan
It looks like it could be fun, but lots of rocks and mud in your mouth make it not-so-fun.

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.


pulley challenge spartan
girl power!
spear throw spartan
Okay, I HAVE to brag. I got my spear to stick on the first throw! I was SHOCKED and way too excited.

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.


ring challenge Spartanrope wall climb spartan

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.


rope climb spartan
That’s Husband making it to the top… I”m on the right, and that’s about as high as I got.

spartan fire jump


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.

spartan finish line
hose shower spartan race Everyone loves a nice cold shower, right?

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.

spartan race finishers

spartan sign wall H ave you done a mud run? Got any tips to add to the list? I’d love to hear about your experiences!



10 Replies to “How to do a Mud Run”

  1. barbara kurland says: Reply

    You are my hero. But you all are totally insane !

    1. positivelypanicked says: Reply

      why, thank you. And, yes, yes we are.

  2. I’ve been following your blog for a while and I’ve really been enjoying it! I LOVE how you review races and your little girl is so cute!!

    1. positivelypanicked says: Reply

      Thanks so much Faith! That means a lot and I love hearing from my readers!!

  3. Great tips! Any tips on the spear throw?
    Running these races are so much fun!

    1. positivelypanicked says: Reply

      Hmmmm, that’s tough. I’d say to hold it about halfway between the back and middle. Take a few giant running steps, then throw it at angle so it travels in an arch and not a straight line. Hope that helps!

  4. Raedel Kellogg says: Reply

    How do u feel about doing the Spartan with compression running socks. I usually always use them but not sure what u think

    1. positivelypanicked says: Reply

      I actually haven’t done a Spartan run with compression socks, but I think it’d be fine!

  5. Thank you so much for writing this up! I’m getting ready to do my first spartan in Oct and am so nervous but excited! This helped ease some fears of mine!

  6. Great and entertaining write up. I just signed my 9 year old twins up for their 1st Spartan and myself up for my first also. This was helpful! Thank you.

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