A Muddy Introduction
I signed up for my first mud run to finally get in shape. At just 28 years old, my 6’2″, 285-pound frame would get winded walking up a simple flight of stairs. My wife would often tease me and poke me in the belly as if I were the Pillsbury Dough-Boy. I had definitely fallen off-track and a long way from the lean 190-pounder that I was in high school. It wasn’t until I saw a picture of myself last Christmas, fat and gross, that I decided to turn things around. My first move was to get back into CrossFit. About a later I stumbled across a website for something called the Warrior Dash, “a mud-crawling, fire-leaping, extreme 5k run from hell.” It was a no-brainer…I signed up immediately and entered the world of mud run training. I had a three-month layover before the race and the last thing I wanted to do was look ridiculous.
There’s something very addictive about getting filthy and putting my body through a few miles of hell.
Running in the Mud Isn’t for Everyone
If you are in search of a wild challenge, than mud running is for you. Mud runs typically range in distance from a 5k to 20k, and some adventure runs can last 24 hours or more. But don’t mistake distance for level of difficulty as even the shortest mud runs can be incredibly intense. Many mud runs are specifically designed to be difficult to make finishing that much more rewarding. The physical nature of mud running requires a fair amount of preparation leading up to race day. Further, if you are looking for a way to take your training and fitness to the next level, then signing-up for a mud run is a great way to get motivated.
There’s a few people who might want to skip mud runs in my opinion, mainly whiney babies and girly men, that’s for sure. Mud runs hurt. They are cold, wet, and can make you bleed. My knees were cut to shreds after one obstacle where I crawled on my hands and knees under a tarp for nearly 50 yards. The pain was severe, but I kept going. At a mud run, you don’t stop at obstacles and quit, you push through and move on to the next one…that’s what it’s all about.
Personally, mud runs are not about how fast I can finish them, but the overall experience is what I enjoy the most. At just under 41 minutes to finish my last Warrior dash, I’m not exactly setting speed records. Instead, I do my best to get into the spirit of the race. If there is a mud pit, I slog straight through the center. I hit every obstacle and don’t cut corners.
The Reward is in the Mud
If you participate and finish a mud run, even the shorter events like Warrior Dash, then you have much to be proud of. I am the furthest thing from a natural runner. In fact, I used to joke that if you ever saw me running then you too had better haul-ass because something bad was behind me. In the past, I would never consider signing up for a long-distance race. I need something more challenging and stimulating than plodding along mile after mind-numbing mile. I’m still not intrigued by marathons or triathlons, but mud runs are a different story altogether. There’s something very addictive about getting filthy and putting my body through a few miles of hell. After completing the Warrior Dash, I can’t wait take on the 12-mile Tough Mudder next year.
Honestly, half the fun of a mud run is the post-race party. You might be hard-pressed to enjoy live music, beer and turkey legs at the finish line of a marathon. However, this is typical of a mud run. Mud runners party dirty, caked in mud, but could care less. It’s not uncommon for upcoming runners to receive muddy high fives and words of encouragement from those who recently finished. Despite the party atmosphere, the vibe is always relaxed and friendly. It’s rare to see a rowdy post-race crowd simply because exhaustion has likely already set-in by the time they receive their victory beer.
Almost a year since I first signed up for Warrior Dash, I’m weighing in at a solid 225 pounds. Not down to what I weighed in high school, but I have definitely packed on more lean-muscle mass than I ever had back then. All without ever setting foot in a gym. Instead, I train for mud runs, and plan to run at least three races in my area for 2012. Tough Mudder a second Warrior Dash, and Run For Your Lives Zombie 5k. I’m hooked, what can I say? Oh, and my wife has finally stopped poking me in the belly. So that’s good.