Mud Runs are all the rage right now! That’s because (among many reasons) they’re so much more fun than your typical road race and demand a more balanced and adaptive body! I’m not poo-pooing the pavement-pounders out there. In fact, I respect all people who make an effort to improve themselves. I’m just saying, if you’re going to train for an event, I find it a better use of one’s time to pick one that requires more than just running (and/or swimming and/or cycling) in a straight line.
If you’ve ever done a 5k, marathon, 100 mile bike ride, sprint triathlon, ironman, etc. then you’re familiar with the feeling of accomplishment and gratitude when crossing the finish line (the best part of racing in my opinion). Having an event on your calendar keeps you motivated to train, fuel your body, and recover so you can be at your best on race day. I always encourage my clients to pick an event or physical accomplishment (unrelated to body composition) to keep them going. When you’re trying to lose weight, it can be discouraging if the number on the scale doesn’t change. However, none of that matters when you cross the finish line on your big day!
So why mud runs? Here are 5 good reasons:
They demand versatility! In the span of 3 (or 10 or 20…) miles, you have to run, crawl, balance, jump, climb, duck, lift, carry, etc. That means if you prepare properly, you’ll be practicing all these skills in your training! These movements work muscles you forgot you had! And to acknowledge the elephant in the room (or on your computer/smart phone/tablet screen); let’s face it, on its own RUNNING KINDA SUCKS!
They are typically held on hilly and uneven terrain! Training on hills is the greatest bang for your buck. Anyone who’s done our Tough Mudder Training Programs or Bold r Dash Programs will concur. Hills are brutal and humbling and intimidating and yet we grow to love them! Uneven or rocky terrain requires adaptability and athleticism. Training on the trails challenges your mind and reaction time. All of this leads to better running technique no matter the setting. Proper technique is always a priority and gives you the best chance to avoid injury!
They build camaraderie! Training for these events brings like-minded (i.e. “crazy” or “a little off”) people together. The first session in our programs is typically a little quiet (aside from some heavy breathing), but by the time event day comes around, solid (and sometimes lifelong) bonds and friendships have been formed! Then on the big day, you help each other, cheer them on, and tell war stories after it’s over!
You’ll become a badass! I could go on for a while on this topic…as a whole, our society is about as rugged as a ripe peach! Discomfort is rare and almost always avoidable. Hungry? Go to the drive thru. Hurting? Take a pill. Tired? Go to the convenience store and you’ll find 1,000+ ways to take care of it. Forget that! When you’re on the course you’re gonna get a little scraped, bruised, cold, wet, dirty, tired…and still survive! You’re also likely to overcome a fear or two. Whether it be fear of heights, dirt, electrocution, what’s lurking in that water, etc…you move forward! Perhaps on your own or with the help of one of your mates, you always find a way to keep moving…and it’s refreshing!
You’ll gain perspective! A lot of these events bring out disabled veterans. I still remember seeing two guys with prosthetic legs trucking along at Tough Mudder Tri State. It was just after a muddy tunnel that was a little dark and scary. I knew I would be fine while crawling through but those guys didn’t have that comfort in the trenches. Civilians do this for sport – the rush and the challenge. It’s a much different story for our troops. It’s inspiring and humbling to hear their stories.
Other factors: cooler scene/crowd, it’s not about competition but it can be competitive, no special gear is required, you’ll have a cool story to tell.
Here’s some events you could check out. Don’t think about it, just sign up!
Tough Mudder – the most recognized name in mud runs
Warrior Dash – the beginner’s entry into the mud run scene
Bold r Dash – a must for Rhode Islanders! Probably the best 5k distance event I’ve ever done and it’s right in our backyard!
Tuff Scramblers – a rugged and rocky scramble with some crazy obstacles
Spartan – I did my first one at Fenway last year. Given the venue it was cleaner than your average event. They have multiple distances and the one at Killington seem pretty badass.
Men’s Health Urbanathlon – I did this in Chicago in 2008. For city slickers who don’t want to get dirty, this has more obstacles than mud.
Ryan McGowan became a certified personal trainer in 2007. He started on a part time basis while working full time as a project manager in the commercial construction industry, but decided to pursue his passion of training full time in 2010.
His background of college football and Ironman triathlons shaped a diverse and versatile training style. However, after dealing with injuries related to overuse and overtraining, Ryan discovered a way to train only 1-2 hours per week and became fitter and healthier than ever! His company, Laid-back Fitness, was founded based on these ideals where their focus is developing efficiency of movement using fun and unique ‘equipment’.
His facility is located in Warwick and is a combination of a fitness center and a playground. While helping clients become healthier and improving their body composition, Ryan also encourages them to participate in mud runs to put their skills and fitness levels to the test. Having a good body is nice, but he believes we should use it in addition to just showing it off!
By Ryan McGowan, originally published here.