Fit Tip: The Joy Of Mud Runs
The first time my friend suggested I run a Spartan Race I thought, “Sounds like fun. How hard could it be?” I then proceeded to watch some YouTube videos and got thoroughly freaked out. These people were crazy! Scaling 6’ high walls, crawling on your belly through mud under barbed wire fencing and then…then…jumping over fire? For god sake haven’t these people ever heard of just using a treadmill?
I blogged about my fears and somehow it got back to the local Spartan promoters and they said they would give me a free entrance pass if I got over my fear and tried it. I also volunforced my husband to run with me because, in theory, he would be available to rescue me from the mud pit.
A Spartan Sprint is 3-5 miles of trail running plus 15-20 obstacles. A Spartan Super is 8-15 miles of trail running plus 20+ obstacles. It’s a course designed to let weekend warriors pretend to be Navy Seals for a few hours. You need to be physically fit so you don’t have a heart attack on the field, but beyond that you need mental strength to figure out how to outwit that 20’ high rope you need to climb or how to carry that bucket of rocks through the murky, slippery pond. If you fail to get past an obstacle the penalty is 30 burpees and they have coaches standing by to make sure you do all 30…or else!
It seems counterintuitive, but we ended up having such a blast we signed up our kids to do a Spartan Kids Race the following year. (This is where it kind of sucks having a personal trainer for a mom.) Kids can run ½ mile, 1 mile or 2 miles and there are obstacle to climb over, under, around and through. In the weeks before the race I had the kids run on a trail through a park, carry a heavy backpack, and play on the jungle gym. Whenever they would whine I’d say something supportive like, “Spartan up, kids!”
The day of the race we were all excited, especially the kids. Some parents ran with their children to help them over obstacles, but we watched from the sidelines and cheered them on. My son took off like a shot and gave the older kids a run for their money. My daughter, who hates things like running and getting dirty, struggled a bit more, but didn’t stop until she finished. It was only at the end of the race that we realized she lost one shoe midway through and kept going!
Obstacle course races (OCR) can be found in most major cities and have various themes. Many are outdoor; others are held in football stadiums. The ultimate OCR I would love to do is a Zombie Run, which is an obstacle course made more primal by zombies chasing after you to devour your flesh. Talk about incentive to get over the wall!
If you’ve ever secretly wondered what it is like to go through boot camp, a mud run might be right for you. Here are some tips:
- Get used to burpees! Start out doing 10 per day and build from there.
- Wear dry-wic capris that cover your knees so they don’t get scratched up as badly.
- Bring a complete change of clothes (you’ll need it!) and store them with your phone at check-in.
- Don’t bring your phone to the race – it will get destroyed. There are tons of photographers there and you will be able to find pictures based on your race number.
- Pack water and gu/protein bars, especially if you are doing a longer race. Unlike a marathon, the water stations are few and far between, so you need to depend on yourself.
- Watch some YouTube videos for techniques on how to get through obstacles. There will almost always be a rope climb, 6’ walls to scale, heavy things to lift and balancing obstacles.
Things aren’t so scary if you know other people have gotten through them.
As with any fitness adventure – have fun! You only get one body so why not throw it in the mud once in awhile?