A mud run or obstacle event is no small feat in the fitness world. If you are wild enough to decide to challenge yourself to one of these type of races, you are going to have to be wild enough to train for it, too. Even if you are in incredible shape, you are going to be pushed past your limits. For this reason you should plan on getting in better shape (no matter where you think you are now!) before ever stepping foot on one of these obstacle courses.
So what makes a mud run so tough? You can expect to run between 8-12 miles. Sound doable right? Too bad this course is not a straight shot. You can anticipate running through icy cold, muddy water, up and down hills, over ropes and walls, and other various obstacles. Your lungs will be tested, but so will your body. You’ll need strength to lift your body weight and flexibility to maneuver the obstacles properly.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when training for a mud run or obstacle course.
- Assess Your Current Fitness Level. Because of the endurance that will be needed on this type of obstacle course, you should currently work out 5 or more days per week and also be able to run at least 5 miles without stopping. A mud run is not a half or full marathon, and you don’t have to be able to run the full obstacle course length without stopping, but your lungs and heart should be well-conditioned.
- Get Ready. If you think you aren’t ready for a mud run, that’s OK! This is why you assess your fitness level. You can be in bad shape and still train for an obstacle event. Your target event won’t be as close as the event would’ve been if you had been in better shape, but by no means should you forego this opportunity to challenge yourself. Getting ready means preparing your mind as much as it does your body. A mud run is very mentally taxing, and you will need to be mentally tough to finish the run.
- Simulate The Event. You will never be able to mimic exactly what you will face in a mud run, but you need to do similar exercises to prepare your body. Start with running to build your cardiovascular endurance. You should be able to run at least 5 miles. Run on different surfaces, too, as you train. Run 5-6 days per week alternating between treadmill, grass, and trail runs. Cross training with bikes and ellipticals is a great idea, too. Your obstacle training can be done out in the world, like a park or similar landscape with monkey bars, ropes, etc. Practice holding on monkey bars or pull-up bars to strengthen your grip (you’ll need it!), and build up your full body strength by doing pull-ups, pushups, planks, body squats, lunges, bench jumps, and rope climbs. Mountain climbers, jump rope, burpees, and mountain climbers are a few exercises to focus on while you build cardio endurance and muscular strength.
- Circuit Train. The most important training tip before a mud run is to circuit train. You have to prepare your body for the run, obstacle, run, obstacle route your event will take. Warm your body up with a jog, and then kick up your training a notch while doing some tough cardio for 3 minutes, then pick two obstacles to tackle. Repeat this back and forth until you feel like you’re going to fall out. Take it slow in the beginning, and always check your heart rate. As you get stronger and build more endurance, you can add obstacles and time to your cardio.