Mud runs are all the rage right now as well as other types of competitive obstacles races. But they aren’t like doing a simple 5k or 10k event; mud runs are their own beast. As such there is a more specific style of training that should be employed to people who want to excel or even survive these very grueling races.
Mud Run Basics
There are quite a few different types of races these days. But for the most part they include a 5k run along with anywhere from 12 to 25 obstacles along the course. The obstacles are spaced out fairly evenly and can be of all types such as climbing walls, monkey bars, balance beams, or crawling through tunnels. Of course there is also the mud to contend with.
People who have never done a race before often have a hard time trying to figure out how to train because they aren’t aware of exactly what you end up going through. Even if you review the course route, organizers often have ‘secret’ obstacles they don’t let you know about until the day of the race.
Mud Run Training
Cardiovascular/endurance training is the most important aspect of this type of event, but not by much. As most events are 5k then you should be able to run at least 4 miles continuously. Ideally you would want to be able to do 6 or 8 miles straight because you will need that overall level of endurance.
But because you do not run that distance non-stop you should involve interval training into your program as well to get your body used to what it will be experiencing on race day. For this, mixing in trail and hill running is a must. Variable terrain as well as using inclines and hills is more like what will be faced during the run.
Along with cardiovascular training a certain amount of upper body strength and coordination is needed for the various obstacles. This type of specific training can be difficult to mimic unless you happen to have some sort of course available to practice on. To work on your muscle strength performing full body circuit training using bodyweight exercises is the best bet.
Last but not least your training should mimic the race when possible. That means adding weight to your body like you would experience from wet clothes and mud. While jumping in the lake before a run might be fun, it isn’t for everyone. However wearing a 10 pound weighted vest can create a similar effect.
Sample Training Routine
For mud run training the goal should to be train harder than the actual event. This routine peaks each week. The goal should be to increase your mileage up to about 6 to 8 miles and then work on your pace. For added difficulty trying sprinting up hills on Day 3.
- Day 1 – Distance Run followed by Training Circuit
- Day 2 – Off
- Day 3 – Hill/Trail Running followed by Training Circuit
- Day 4 – Off
- Day 5 – Hill/Trail Running followed by Training Circuit followed by short 2-3 mile jog with weight.
- Day 6 – Off
- Day 7 – Off
For running you should work up to what you are comfortable with. Initially start with a mileage goal. Stretch and warm-up then start jogging at a nice slow pace. When you run out of wind walk at a fast pace until you regain your wind. Then resume jogging. Over time you should be able to last longer jogging. Once you reach your mileage goal look to increase your pace slowly.
The Training Circuit
Aim for 2 to 3 circuits. You will need to find a place where you can do pull-ups. Schools or playgrounds at parks usually have bars you can use as well as space for sprints. Walk for a minute between circuits to catch your wind if you need it.
- Sprint – 1 minute
- Pushups (feet wide) – 30 seconds
- Jumping Jacks – 30 seconds
- Sprint – 1 minute
- Jumping Burpees – 30 seconds
- Run in Place (high knees) – 30 seconds
- Sprint – 1 minute
- Pull-ups – 30 seconds
- Spider Crawl – 30 seconds (low on all fours with hands and feet out wide – go forward and side to side)
For mud run training you want to have a good 8 to 12 weeks to prepare. Even people in good shape from running and working out have a very hard time on a mud run because their training has not mimicked the style of the race very closely. This type of training listed here will prepare you for what you are going to face and if you start early enough you will be ready to crush the course on your mud run.