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So You Wanna Do a Mud Run? Here's What You Need to Know

Combining elements of adventure racing, trail running and military challenge courses, obstacle races like Tough Mudder have sparked a recreation revolution. Marathoning and triathlons have become a thing of the past as individuals of all ages and fitness levels are setting their sights on mud runs, not road racing. If you're looking for an exciting event that offers a daunting physical challenge, follow this guide and prepare for muddy good time.   

SELECTING A RACE

Races vary with respect to distance, difficulty, and level of competition. Whether you're looking for a good time or a challenging workout, you can choose between a race that is a party among friends or another that's a grueling test of physical abilities. Spend some time looking into the different races, checking out reviews, becoming familiar with the race course, the various obstacles and the components of the event, before completing your registration and spending your money. 

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TRAINING

Obstacle racing is different than the average 5K or marathon. It's more along the lines of an adventure race with mud trails and military style obstacles. Be prepared for sprinting, climbing, jumping, crawling, and in some instances, swimming. To train for this type of event focus on strength, cardiovascular stamina, and hybrid fitness. It's also helpful to get your hands on some exercise equipment that includes kettlebells, weighted sandbags, tractor tires, a weighted vest, and a push/pull sled. Then, once you're ready to get to work take your workouts outside to train in a setting that's similar to that of the race course.  

STRENGTH

To take on the challenges encountered during a race you'll need to be able to transport your own bodyweight under, over, through or around obstacles. Building strength relative to your bodyweight by using functional and dynamic movements is most beneficial. Bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and triceps dips can be used to create a foundation of strength. Then include athletic and explosive movements such as kettlebell swings, burpees, jump squats, and box jumps will help improve balance and leg strength.

STAMINA

Obstacle racing requires a solid base of cardiovascular fitness. Running long distances is not essential because these races tend to take place in bursts or intervals, varying between running and the obstacles. To improve this type of cardiovascular fitness, include two to three days of run-specific workouts into your training program. Look to include one long run, high intensity sprints, and hills climbs.  

HYBRID FITNESS

You should target race specific skills by improving hybrid fitness: combine strength training and cardiovascular workouts into one training session by pairing sprints with push-ups. Train grip strength by completing farmer's walks--transporting an awkward or heavy object using a weighted sled--or wear a weighted vest during a workout to improve leg and core strength.  

Training for an obstacle race is a fun way to get in shape and stay motivated. Whether you're searching for a competitive outlet or camaraderie, you're sure to benefit from the sense of accomplishment that comes with achieving a new and unique goal.

Joe Vennare is an accomplished fitness entrepreneur who develops, instructs and writes about innovative fitness programs. He is the co-founder of Hybrid Athlete, Kettlebell Cardio, and Race Day Domination.




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