The Dos and Don’ts of Your First Mud Run

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There are those who don’t mind getting a little dirty, and then there are those who revel in traveling through endless mud-covered obstacles and end up looking like a swamp monster from a Scooby Doo cartoon. If you’re a swamp monster kind of person, then you’ll want to experience the pure unrivaled filthiness of a mud run.

What Exactly Is a Mud Run?

If you’ve ever experienced basic military training right after a typhoon, then you’ve got an idea of what a mud run is. There are mud runs all over the country, from Tough Mudder and Spartan Race to smaller, more localized events. They all have two things in common: insane obstacles and lots of mud.

It’s an intense race, usually about five kilometers, and can include everything from walls to climb to muddy bogs to wade through, and even barbed wire. Is it fun? Definitely. It is easy? Not a chance.

Many times you’ll see participants in crazy clothing, like costumes or tutus, with arms raised in triumph as they cross the finish line. It’s a magnet for camaraderie and competition, but you don’t just decide to do it. It’s like any other type of race that you need to prepare for. There is a chance for injury and no one wants to end their Tough Mudder stories with “and then the ambulance showed up.”

The Dos of a Mud Run

The biggest thing you need to do in preparation for a mud run is train. Even if you’re not planning on racing for competition, but just for the experience, you still need to train. These obstacles are physical challenges and you don’t want to be the person that can’t make it over a wall, or fall off the monkey bars.

Make sure you start training as early as possible, focusing on endurance and upper body strength. Don’t go crazy trying to run kilometers right out of the gate, unless you’re already active. You can start out by walking or running short distances, and then increase the length gradually.

You’ll definitely want to bring a few friends. Many mud runs allow people to register teams. When you’re on the third kilometer and hit the psychological wall, the encouragement of your friends will be just what you need to finish those last two kilometers. Many teams create matching T-shirts or costumes, and you can also help each other through obstacles and cross the finish line, hands clasped in victory. If you want Facebook pictures and bragging rights, then have a friend or two in the audience to catch those precious moments. It’s great not only for the triumphs of climbing the wall, but also the fun of a mud faceplant.

Do expect to get very dirty. Don’t wear your Sunday best or anything that you expect to wear in public ever again. When you were a kid and it rained, remember how you wanted to go outside and run through the puddles and roll in the mud? This is that moment for adulthood. Mom and dad aren’t there to stop you, so get dirty and enjoy it. Don’t forget a new set of clothes as well. No matter if your car is a beater or a Ferrari, you’re not going to want a few pounds of mud all over your upholstery.

The Don’ts of a Mud Run

The obstacles of the mud run are meant to not only be fun, but also test your endurance and strength. Many people don’t take the time to check out the obstacles beforehand, either in person or via the Internet. Don’t do something you’re not comfortable with. If you’re afraid of heights and get vertigo, then don’t do the wall, etc. Why? Safety is the most important thing. The cost of the mud run pales in comparison to the cost of an emergency room visit or mid-mud run panic attack. It’s one thing to face your fears and push your limits, but if your gut’s telling you something is too dangerous, don’t ignore it.

Don’t forget to protect your body as well. It’s up to you, but kneepads and elbow pads might be a good investment. We’re not talking about head to toe riot gear, but a few pads might save you a little road rash.

Don’t let the mud take your shoes. The mud bog may be shallow, but when you jump into it, you’re going to sink. Sneakers or boots need to be laced tight or else they might end up a permanent part of the course. Suction will pull them right off your feet if they’re not laced tight.

The most important “don’t” of the mud run is don’t forget to have fun. Ultimately, that’s the goal. You’ll be tempted to celebrate a little beforehand, but hold off until after the race. It doesn’t only impair your movements and reflexes, but it also dehydrates you. Don’t risk overheating because you decided to have a few brewskis before the event.

It you’ve been part of a mud run and have some great ideas I might have missed, or are considering your first and have a few more questions, then feel free to leave a comment.

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Stephan Aarstol is an American internet entrepreneur and author of the book The Five Hour Workday, which is based on Tower Paddle Boards' invention of the 5-hour workday in 2015 that would eventually spread the idea to over 10 million people worldwide. Since founding Tower in 2010, it has gone on to become one of America's fastest growing companies and Mark Cuban's best investment in the history of Shark Tank. Tower has diversified into a direct to consumer electric bike company called Tower Electric Bikes, a beachfront event venue called Tower Beach Club, and, where consumers can shop all the world's finest direct to consumer brands from one easy place.