Last month I decided to try my first 5K obstacle race. The concept has really increased in popularity over the last couple of years with races like Tough Mudder and Rugged Maniac popping up all over the country, and after seeing several of my crazy friends posting muddy pictures of themselves doing these races on Facebook, I knew I wanted to try it. Not because I love getting dirty (I don’t), but because I’m always up for a good challenge. Well this was definitely a challenge!
If you haven’t tried one of these combination mud-run-meets-obstacle-course challenges for yourself, here’s what you need to know:
- Before you sign up, make sure you understand what type of race you’re getting yourself into. These types of races can vary greatly in terms of distance and obstacles you’ll face; I specifically chose the race I did because it was a shorter run, and none of the challenges involved possibly being electrocuted (yes, that’s a thing – supposedly it’s a very mild shock, but still. Not for me).
- Focus on your strength training. Obviously in order to prepare for a run like this you’ll have to log some training miles, but what makes this type of race different is how much upper-body strength it requires, since you’ll likely be hoisting yourself over walls, carrying tires and climbing ropes along the way. Incorporate exercises like pull-ups (or assisted pull-ups), pushups, rows and presses into your workouts.
- Bring a change of clothes, face wipes and a towel. I thought I was prepared by wearing clothes I could toss after the race (many races set up donation stations for muddy shoes and clothes at races) and bringing a clean outfit, but as race organizers hosed me down afterwards, I realized I didn’t think to pack a towel! Oops. I saw lots of women with face and body wipes, which I’d definitely recommend – you will have dried mud everywhere. Also, if you’re prone to blisters, wear moleskin or bring Band-aids, since you’ll likely be running in wet socks at some point!
- Sign up with a friend, or a group. This type of race is so much more fun with a friend or team! Not only will you be able to laugh at them looking ridiculous and muddy, but it’s also nice to have someone there to give you a boost over a wall when you need it.