Why you need to race in a mud run (and how to survive it)

While I definitely consider myself to be fairly fit, I am by no means a runner.  I have always loved the idea of running, so back about 6 years ago, after I had my first child, I took up jogging.  It made sense, given that it is tough to find activities you can do to stay fit with your kids, and throwing them into a jogging stroller is the lowest hanging fruit (see my blog on 8 Ways to Workout with Your Kids for more ideas).  However, it was more difficult than it seemed.  It took me quite a while to build up to my goal, which was 5k.

I set myself a target, which was to run in my first race.  I settled on the Toronto Waterfront Marathon 5k.  Seemed like a great idea, but in reality, didn’t work out to be that fun.  It was like the perfect storm of problems:

  • after months and months of training, I found myself 8 weeks pregnant on race day
  • it was pouring rain
  • it was freezing cold
  • the traffic getting to the race was a nightmare

But, I had committed and I was going to make it happen.  It happened alright.  I ended up finishing the race 25 seconds behind my goal time.  And I also ended up puking on the Gardiner Expressway 3 separate times.  People kept stopping to ask me if I was ok, to which I shouted back, “I’m fine, I’m just pregnant!”

Not the best time of my life, that’s for sure.

So, after this, I decided races were not all they were cracked up to be.  Until I found mud runs.

Now, most people (ahem ahem, my husband) look at a mud run and thinks, “why would I want to run/crawl/jump through the mud!”  I saw it and was like, “Hell yes!”

I have done two types of mud runs: serious runs (Spartan Race), and fun runs (Mudmoiselle, the female only fundraiser put on by the Canadian Cancer Society).  I am glad I had the experience of both, but I am definitely a “fun run” kinda gal.  Spartan basically almost killed me (ok, a bit of an exaggeration, but it was really tough!).  To put it into perspective, the Spartan 5k took me more than an hour and a half, and Mudmoiselle’s 5k took me 50 minutes.

Why I love mud runs:

  • It’s not just running.  The obstacles make it so much more fun!  Shimmying over a log, crawling under barbed wire, running through tires, and my favourite, sliding down a 200 foot slip-and-slide!
  • IMG_7406
  • The team aspect.  I did Spartan with my colleagues, and every year my sister and cousin and I put together a Mudmoiselle team.  We may not stick together the whole race, but we are there to cheer each other on!
  • Mudmoiselle1
  • The costumes.  I would like to point out that my family’s Mudmoiselle team is the reigning costume champions, 3 years running, thank you very much.  I think we actually put more effort into our costumes then we do our training 🙂

So now the bigger question: How do you survive your first mud run?  Here are my best tips and tricks!

  1. Train.  This may sound pretty basic, but believe me when I say you can tell who trained and who did not.  I have passed people literally sitting in the middle of the course who just couldn’t keep going.  Train by running, as well as functional fitness movements like pushups, burpees, and jumps.  It all helps!
  2. Get a pair of mud run shoes.  There are a few good reasons for this.  First, the laces often do up with a slide instead of a traditional bow, which means as they loosen due to the mud and water, they won’t come undone.  Secondly, if you have a heavy running shoe with lots of padding, they might be great on the pavement, but the second they get wet, they will weigh you down.  Terrain and mud shoes are more plastic, and drain well, so they water and mud will run right through them.  They also tend to have cleats or traction on the bottom to help you grip the hills.
  3. Don’t wear cotton.  Same as the heavy shoes.  The second you go through your first water or mud obstacle, the cotton will get wet and heavy, and you don’t want to feel weighed down.
  4. Eat a good breakfast.  You will need the energy!
  5. Dress up!  For most of us, these races are all about having some fun while challenging yourself.  Get a team together, and put together a costume.  I can’t tell you how motivating it is to hear the other runners cheer you on as you pass them (or they pass you), and they will always appreciate a good costume.  My first race my team dressed up as Wonder Woman,  and believe me, that’s how we felt.Devil's run.jpg
  6. Get your family involved.  We not only force our family to come out, we also make them dress up with us.  If they offer a kids version of the run, sign your kids up!  They love to do mini versions of what grown ups do, and it’s great to give them out-of-the-box experiences.  danica spartan.JPG

There are TONS of mud runs around, and a simple Google search can help you find one.  Sign up for one- you won’t regret it!!

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