Day 230-2 (F, 120817) — How to Run the Mud


Mud Runnin’ Tomorrow.  Tomorrow I’ll participate in my second-longest mud run to date: the Rebel Race has 21 obstacles over 15k (9.6-miles) and looks like it’ll be a ton of fun.

Note: The race organizers have made a big mistake: they have only one 15k heat (all the rest are 5k) and they put it in the mid-afternoon.  I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a mid-August Texas summer day, but 3 PM is NOT the ideal time to go outside and do something really strenuous.  I mentioned this to them on their website . . .

BTW - I anonymized my FB screen using Social Fixer.  You should check it out.

. . . but never heard back.  Hopefully, they’ll rethink the logistics of this for next time.

Preparation.  I quit exercising about 4 months ago.  It’s a long story but that’s the short of it.  I also quit running.

In the previous year, I ran more than 300 miles and my long weekly runs generally averaged about 8 miles.  I once ran 13.2 miles just to see if I could do a half marathon.  It took forever but I felt good at the end of it and probably could have gone a bit farther.

In the past week or two I’ve gone out a few times to prove to myself that 9.6 miles was something I could still handle.  After running 7 miles twice, I knew this race would still be within my abilities.  My last run was a really short one on Wednesday: between a stiff neck and a twinge in my hip, I decided that discretion should rule the day and cut my run short so as not to injure myself immediately prior to the race.

Coming Up Next.  I hope to run another Original Mud Run (10k) in October.

Tips for a Successful Mud Run.  The rest of this post is an update to a post I did more than a year ago, Day 101 (April 2011), about things to keep in mind about running in a mud run.  I’ve added a few links and some new insights.  Enjoy!

I have now participated in four mud runs.

The first was the Warrior Dash in May 2010. My first one ever. I had not run a step in probably 18-20 years and it about killed me, even though I took almost 50 minutes to go just 3.1 miles (5k).

The second was the 6.2 miles (10k) Original Mud Run in Ft. Worth, TX in November 2010. Much longer but by then I had been running (slowly) for a few months so I weathered it better than the Warrior Dash.

The third was the Tough Mudder in Austin in January. This one as 10.2 miles (more or less). Much longer and MUCH colder. Wow. The pit filled with water and ICE was a (polar) bear!

The fourth was another Original Mud Run in Ft. Worth yesterday morning. Again, it was 6.2 miles (10k) but this time I improved a lot over my previous results. My overall time fell by 14 minutes and my pace fell by two minutes per mile.

So, how do these three races compare?  Let’s go to the tape:

Best organized? Original Mud Run.  They have been doing this the longest (13 years?) and have their stuff down pat.  Simple rules and instructions plus the course is well laid out and easy to follow.

Toughest? Tough Mudder had more obstacles (easy to do when you have 4 more miles to fit them in) and LOTS more up-and-down hills, climbing, upper-body-strength-requiring activities.

Most competitive? The competitive heats of the Original Mud Run seem to have the most gung-ho participants, but I would not swear to that.

Most fun? Tough Mudder.  They encourage cooperation on the website, in their pre-race information, and in the instructions before the race starts.  It works.  Even if you are not running with friends, total strangers will help you navigate the obstacles and give you both a hand up and a round of applause.

Most expensive? Tough Mudder by about $40.

Would I do it again?

  • Tough Mudder – yes
  • Original Mud Run – yes
  • Warrior Dash – no

I don’t think I’ll do short ones (sub-5 mile runs like the Warrior Dash or Jailbreak) anymore just because it isn’t worth the money to me.

Overall, I think the Tough Mudder is my favorite of the bunch.

UPDATE. Hopefully, I’ll be able to add the Rebel Race to my list of “good ones” after tomorrow.  Interesting note: this mud run is being held in the same place as my first one, the Warrior Dash, at Cousin’s Paintball field in Forney, Texas.



  • Help each other. Even if it’s just an encouraging word, help.  If someone is having trouble with an obstacle, help them.  If it’s you, ask for help rather than give up and go around.  Camaraderie is easy to generate at these events if you try and it definitely makes it a lot more fun.
  • No fatigues and boots. I know some of the races talk about wearing cammies/fatigues/utes and combat boots.  There is no need to wear any of that unless you are trying to challenge yourself a bit extra.  Want to carry 10+ extra pounds of water weight as you slog through the mud and muck?  Go for it.  But you most certainly do NOT need to wear those things to “protect” yourself  . . . unless you are delicate in which case what the heck are you doing participating in a mud run in the first place?
  • No pockets. In fact, don’t wear anything with pockets.  Why?  Because when you come up out of the water they may be filled with water and muck.  Adding extra weight may not be as much fun as you may think. 😉
  • No jewelry. I came with an inch of losing my wedding ring on my first mud run.  The mud sucks these things off of your hands and neck, and the obstacles do their damnedest to grab hold of them as well.  Leave them at home or in your bag.
  • Run early. Later in the day, the course is torn up from the thousand people who have run it before you.  Try to get into the earliest heat on the earliest day that you can.  A fresh course is a better course.
  • SMILE. This is fun, remember? =)

I hope the reviews above and the tips below help you out if you are considering a mud run.  I encourage you to do it.  Big or small, long or short, ultimate or deliberately weekend warrior, it doesn’t matter; the point is to accomplish something.  Once you’ve done that, you’ll hunger for more . . . and that’s a good thing.

I walked for much of the three miles of the Warrior Dash, but I was damned proud to have done it.  Even more so for finishing the Tough Mudder in January and for improving on my Original Mud Run performance from one race to another.

If I can do it, you can.

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them or to point you in the right direction.

UPDATE. My tips are mostly about attitude and what not to do.  Here are a few other pages with some good tips on gear and training for mud runs.

One More Resource. (same website as the last two links above) has a sweet mud run calendar which can help you find a run scheduled in your area.


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