With an ever-increasing number of mud run races across the country, it’s clear that this fun way of being active is resonating with people of all different fitness levels. While playing in the mud piques the interest of some runners, others are drawn by the physical and mental challenge of navigating obstacles and seeing just exactly what they’re made of.
And while running is a key part of the preparation, since mud runs incorporate a variety of obstacles from scaling walls to crawling through tubes or under wires, it’s important that your training leading up to race day also focus on developing specific skill-related parameters of fitness, such as power, speed, agility, balance, reactivity, and coordination. Try these exercises to prepare your body for specific obstacles from three popular mud runs, then have fun, work hard, and get dirty!
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Obstacle: Electric Eel
Race: Tough Mudder
Exercise: Stomach crawls
To move as quickly—and nimbly—as possible through the frigid water of this obstacle while simultaneously avoiding the dangling electric currents overhead, you’ll need to take your training back to your infant days and practice crawling.
Lie on your stomach with forearms resting on the floor, elbows bent and hands in front of your shoulders, palms facing each other. Keeping core engaged and shoulder blades pulled back and down, slide left knee forward, bending knee to move it out to the side of your body until it’s level with hips. At the same time, slide right arm forward while keeping elbow bent. Continue moving forward, alternating limbs (left leg and right arm, then right leg and left arm), keeping body on the floor the entire time. (Some rotation of your torso will naturally occur with this movement, but just keep in mind the high voltage that will soon be overhead.) Aim to cover 30 feet as quickly as possible.
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Obstacle: Road Rage
Race: Warrior Dash
Exercise: Multi-directional ladder drill
You’ll need a bit of fancy footwork once you leap over the sets of cars and find yourself in several different seas of tires you must navigate in and out of for this obstacle. Hone in on your speed and spryness with this move, which uses an agility ladder and a zigzag pattern to train both lateral and forward movement.
Plant left foot outside of the first space in the ladder and pick right knee up. Plant right foot inside ladder, immediately followed by left foot. Keep left foot inside the ladder and plant right foot outside of the ladder on the opposite side from where you began and one space up from where left foot is currently planted. Continue in this pattern—right foot in, left foot in, right foot out, left foot in, right foot in, left foot out—as you progress through to the end of the ladder.
Obstacle: Get a Grip
Race: Dirty Girl
Exercise: SandBell renegade rows
Grip and upper-body strength go along way as you head up and over the cargo net for this obstacle. Perform this move using a pair of SandBells for added grip-strength focus.
Come into a plank position with each hand on top of a SandBell, feet hip-width apart and core engaged. Grip one Sandbell with right hand and pull it up to waist-level, performing a single-arm row. Lower right hand and repeat on the left side, keeping hips and shoulders squared to the floor throughout the movement.
Not quite ready to get down and dirty? You can still experience all of the obstacle course fun at SHAPE’s Diva Dash. This mud-free event is spread over three miles and features 10 to12 unknown obstacles with the option to be as competitive or non-competitive as you want. While you won’t get dirty, you will get wet, and you’re guaranteed to have fun every step of the way!