In my absence for little man’s surgery, I’ve got a great guest poster for you today!! I connected with Kevin on Twitter and I really love this post! Enjoy, and find more of his work on his site: Mud Runner Headquarters!
3 Easy Way to Become a Mud Runner
Like most of you, I did not wake up one morning and decide to tackle a mud run. Instead, I made a decision to take better care of myself because of where I was in my life. My wife was expecting our first child, I had begun to travel regularly for work, thus eating out a lot, and when I was not traveling, I was normally behind a computer. My energy level was low and I knew I did not want to enter middle age with a beer belly.
So I made a decision to start exercising and get myself on a proper diet. My exercise of choice was (and still is) running. Now time to be 100% truthful: I am not a fan of running. Don’t get me wrong, I love the thrill of finishing a run and that sense of accomplishment that comes with it, but getting that first foot out the door to start a run has always been a struggle for me.
After about 2 months of running in parks, my neighborhood, treadmills, and participating in a couple of 5K’s, I was pretty sure I was not going to be able to keep myself motivated enough to continue. I knew wasn’t going to break any records and I wasn’t going to drastically improve my time and become an elite runner so I began to look at other things. Low and behold I didn’t have to look very far!
My friend Scott, who was in town visiting, had just told me he had signed up for Tough Mudder Tampa, a grueling 12 mile obstacle course race. He said I needed to join him! He had already done Warrior Dash and a couple of other mud runs and had had a blast. I didn’t think I had 12 miles, coupled with obstacles, in me. He assured me transitioning from training from 5 and 10K’s to a mud run was pretty simple and straightforward. Mostly he said: focus on strength.
TRANSITION: 3 Easy Ways to Become a Mud Runner
Note: I was not a huge weight lifter when I started and still am not. I do lift a lot more than I did when I started this journey 4 years ago, but I am never going to be 240 pounds of shredded muscle, and I am ok with that. Before you begin strength training, you should immediately set a realistic goal into your head and you will find a lot more success in the gym.
I did not want to invest a lot in weights or other pieces of exercise equipment. Heck, I didn’t know if I would be able keep this up. So I said hello to joining a gym. The gym (which is operated by my company) made me pay 6 months up front, which is a great motivator because you feel more of a need to go (which is key if you are just starting out). I am always leery of big gym chains that only make you sign-up for a month/cancel any time plan. Their commitment to you will make you committed. Another great thing that gym can offer newbies are trainers that can instruct you on how to use the equipment. Don’t be afraid to ask. That is what they are there for!
You should be prepared to use all of your muscles in your body come race day. If you are coming into this as a complete newbie, I suggest focusing on building up your core strength. While it is always fun to have big biceps and pecs (if you’re a guy) or toned legs (if you are a girl), you should focus more on your quads, abs, glutes, back, and shoulder muscle groups. The easiest way to do this is through push-ups, sit-ups, squats, rowing (all gyms have a rowing machine), and pull-ups. Don’t expect to do all of this your first day at the gym. My advice: On your first day see how many you can do of each exercise (your maximum). Write those numbers down, and then rest two days. Come back fresh that third day and start doing 3 sets of 60% of your max, three days of week, and build from there. For example:
Max Push-ups: 25
60% of your Max: 15
Monday-Wednesday-Friday: 3 sets of 15 (Minute and half rest in between).
Once you feel a circuit is getting a little easier, bump each set up by 5 repetitions.
No one gives out medals for overdoing it in a gym (at least I don’t think they do). Even if you have been running your whole life, weight training can easily hurt you if you overdo it. When I started specifically training for mud runs, I would have cardio and weight days followed by just cardio days. I would normally do that Monday through Saturday (Sunday I rested completely). That gave me 3 days of both and 3 days of just cardio. On the days I did both, I would back off my cardio (either the distance or time) or just do intervals.
So now that you have the 3 basic elements for transitioning from running to mud running, sign-up for a mud run. Do it and put it on your calendar. Like a gym membership, if you fork over the cash, get it on the calendar, and know that you have a finite amount of time until race day, you are more likely to show-up on race day and crush your mud run. Happy running!
More about Kevin:
As an avid runner, Kevin Wood was recently turned on to mud runs and obstacle course racing in the last two years. While still participating in traditional 5K’s, 10K’s, and half marathons, he enjoys mud running because of the teamwork, collaboration, and fellowship that each race promotes. Now if he is presented with an opportunity to get dirty while running, he jumps at it.Kevin currently lives in College Park, GA, with his wife and two children. His hobbies (other than running and fitness) include reading, traveling, and spending time with the family.