If you’re looking to add some adventure to your exercise routine, a mud run may be for you. Mud runs and obstacle course events like the Tough Mudder have surged in popularity. All summer long, tens of thousands of runners and walkers of all ages and experience levels are signing up for new rough and tough exercise.
Mud runs challenge participants to climb, crawl and leap through treacherous obstacle courses filled with mud pits, flames and cargo nets. However, while these events draw non-runners to get active, they also carry potential health and safety risks.
Lauren Loberg, PT, DPT, OCS, a physical therapist with TRIA, says she has seen a noticeable increase in mud run-related injuries over the past several years.
“I see many people who are suffering from overuse injuries that are a result of lack of training or fatigue, along with acute injuries like ACL tears or muscle tears,” she said.
To help warriors, mudders and runners of all types avoid injury, Lauren shares these tips:
If I haven’t been training much, or if I’m new to obstacle races, what’s the most important thing I should be aware of?
Mind your pace and set realistic expectations for yourself. If you haven’t run very much, don’t try and keep up with someone who has been training regularly. Not only will you get discouraged, but this can also lead to injuries.
Slow down if you start to feel pain. If you are moving so quickly you can’t maintain a short conversation with the person next to you, take a quick 10-20 second walk break or slow down. In longer races, this can signal a pace that will be too intense to maintain. Even the most experienced runners walk now and then.
Some of these races have several obstacles in between running bouts. Is this a potential issue for runners?
One of the biggest causes of injuries we see in events like this come from people who are accelerating too fast. If you have not trained for a sprint, then you will want to accelerate from these obstacles with care.
What about race gear? Are there any must-have items for race day?
Make sure you have the right shoes for your race surface. Worn out treads can cause slips both on obstacles and navigating terrain.
What should I eat before a mud run?
A lot of people don’t eat breakfast before a run. They don’t know what they should or shouldn’t eat. The best thing to do is to test out a pre-race meal before one of your training runs. If nothing else, be safe and eat something familiar. Not eating can lead to increased fatigue, which can be a precursor to injury.
Any other tips for making it to the finish line?
It’s funny you bring up the finish line, because a lot of people get injured trying to sprint to the finish. Take your time. Accelerate gradually and perform as you trained. These events are supposed to be fun and injuries definitely aren’t fun.