Top Ten Ways to Conquer Your Mud Run or Obstacle Course Race

By Rick Morris

I love mud races. There are three reasons I love mud runs. They are fun, they are challenging and you get dirty! What’s not to like? Mud racing is really fairly simple. Just get run fast and get through the obstacles any way you can, as quickly as you can. That being said, you do need to do some additional training and engage in some mud run strategy to successfully take on your mud run. Here are our top ten ways to conquer your mud run or obstacle course race.

Dress for Success

Your obstacle course race is known for drawing all sorts of creative costumes. That’s part of the fun of mud run events. I hate to be a spoil sport but if you want to excel at mud racing you may want to ditch the costume and dress for success. You are most likely going to be getting wet and muddy as well and crossing obstacles that can catch on loose clothing. To avoid performance sapping problems, dress down as far as possible. Wear snug fitting and quick drying clothing and avoid wearing socks. Socks will get soaked and they will slow you down as well as being very uncomfortable.

Dip – Don’t Dive

Who doesn’t want to dive head first into that lovely mud pit? Of course, a head first dive is the most enjoyable and funniest way to go, but to maintain your speed and momentum you should probably avoid that head first dive and gently dip into the mud pit.

Go for the Mo

Hesitation will kill your speed and performance in a mud run race. As you approach most obstacle, especially hurdling obstacles or short steep hills, keep up your momentum in your obstacle course race and let that mighty MO power up and over your obstacles. If you hesitate you will lose time and will need to muscle your way up and over.

Energy Conservation

An obstacle course race uses a lot of energy. Mud runs and obstacle course racing place many more demands on your body. So don’t go out too fast in these mud runs. A five mile mud run requires may more energy than a typical 5 mile distance race. Conserve a bit of energy so you don’t crash and burn before the finish line.

Grip It

There will be many obstacles in your obstacle course race that require a specific type of strength that you may not have trained for – your grip strength. Many of the hanging or climbing obstacle place a lot of stress on your grip and hand strength. Train your grip by practicing hands on branches or bars and by doing pull ups. You can also use one of many hand grip trainers available, but I prefer a more function hang or pull up.

Balance Benefits

Your balance and proprioceptive skills will be challenged by balance beam  or log runs, cross country runs, net crossings and tire fields in your adventure race. Work on your balance by practicing on beams , logs, balance balls and one leg strength exercises.

Naked Strength

Speaking of strength, many athletes think that means hitting the gym. You could go to the gym and use the strength equipment but I prefer a different method. Naked strength training. No I don’t mean with your clothes off, I mean body weight exercises without equipment. Body weight strength training is more functional in nature and more specific to your goal. It will do a better job of preparing you for those specific mud run obstacles.

Train for Terrain

One the most important phases of mud run training is preparing yourself to conquer the specific obstacles in your race. Find out what obstacles you will encounter and practice those specific moves. They may involve climbing, crawling, rolling, jumping or many other types of movements. Whatever they are, try to mimic those obstacles as closely as possible in your training.

Plyometrics for a Purpose

I don’t think there are any mud runs or adventure races out there that don’t require some sort of high intensity jumping, leaping or hurdling. A great way to increase your power for those high intensity obstacles is through plyometric training. Plyometrics place high demands on your muscles, so be sure you are properly conditioned through standard strength training before you jump into plyometrics.

Drill It

You high school and college runners out there are very familiar with pre run warm up drills. Do these drills, which include high knees, heel kicks and a number of other movements before every training session. They not only do a great job of warming up your cold muscles, but also prepare you for many of the obstacles you will be facing.u