Archives for October 2014

10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Mud Run


10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Mud Run

My first mud run was an absolute blast, even though it was really long, cold, and much more physically challenging than I had imagined. Considering that we opted for one of the longest and most difficult runs for our first time out, preparing just a bit more would have saved a bit of pain and made the event even better.

First Mud Run

While the experience was awesome enough to have me coming back for more, if I had the chance to do it over again there are some things I would have done differently. So, to save you the trouble for your first mud run, I have compiled the following list of 10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Mud Run.

  • Plan to arrive well before your start time. These events get CROWDED and are often challenging to find. Parking may be a ways away from the starting line and once you are there you will have to wait in line to check in.
    Arriving early ensures you have time to find the race, park, take pictures, and warm up a bit before your wave begins. Stressing about missing your start time because you didn't allow time for getting lost or forgetting something and having to run back to your car is not a great way to start off what should be a really awesome day.

  • Have an understanding of the obstacles you will face and how to tackle them prior to attempting. Many races will outline exactly what obstacles you will see at your event and you can train specifically for them. Others are left a surprise.
    In this case, spend a few minutes observing how other runners are successfully completing obstacles and follow suit. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself and try obstacles that are new for you, but if an obstacle appears overly dangerous, or you simply don't feel comfortable attempting it, skip it.
    These events while meant to be a challenge are also intended to be fun and leaving early due to an injury is a sure way to ruin your first mud run experience.

    Need a training plan for your first mud run?
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  • Incorporate hill training and running on uneven terrain into your training program.
    Running 3 miles up the side of a mountain or across rocky terrain is much more difficult than running a 5K on nice even pavement.
    Even if you don't intend to run the entire mud run, you should be well trained to cover more than the total distance of the event you are taking part in.
    Otherwise you may find yourself gassed out and unable to complete your obstacle race, or worse, find yourself injured from trying to push yourself to do something your body is unprepared for.

  • Wet monkey bars are much more difficult to get across than the dry ones at your neighborhood park.
    1-ellismudrun8You will also face bars that are muddy or even buttered and many of these obstacles will have you climbing up and down angled bars as opposed to straight across.
    Using a reverse grip (with palms facing you) to grab the next bar can help reduce the chance of your fingers slipping off the slick surface. "Pedaling" your legs as opposed to swinging them can also reduce the slip factor.
    Polishing up on your grip strength and pull-up strength in general will increase the likelihood of making it all the way across without falling into the muddy pit below.

  • Gloves are great for protecting your hands from sharp rocks, splintering walls, and blisters.
    But the wrong gloves will get caked with mud and are extra slippery when wet. If you bring gloves for your race, you will likely want to remove and store them for most of the race until you need them.
    Fingerless workout gloves may seem like a good idea, but tend to get slippery once wet and aren’t really best for mud runs.
    This goes for pretty much any leather glove. You will want gloves that have grip even when wet.
    There are some gloves made specifically for mud run and obstacle course races available from popular athletic gear companies, but an inexpensive pair of textured gardening gloves work just as well and cost a lot less. Make sure to test out the gloves you plan to wear ahead of time for proper fit, ease of wearing and removal, and grip on wet, slippery objects.

  • Running in new shoes, or any new clothing items for that matter is a bad idea. Make sure that your race attire has been tested out and broken in during your training. You don't want to end up with unnecessary chafing or blisters that could otherwise have been avoided.

  • Cotton is the worst thing EVER for mud runs. Super absorbent, loses its shape when wet, and will get heavy and drag down during your run.
    Avoid cotton for any clothing items you plan to wear on race day and plan to wear tight-fitted wicking materials instead, similar to what triathletes wear.

  • Doing a mud run with friends is a lot of fun. 1-IMG_5378 (1)
    But a Big Team = Longer Time per Obstacle = Longer Overall Course Time.
    Be prepared if you plan to run with a large group and either aim for an earlier start time or choose a shorter distance if you don't want to be on the course all day long.

  • Bring along a friend or family member who just wants to watch and have them take pictures for you.
    While most races have photographers, you are not guaranteed to find any pictures of yourself following your race.
    Spectators can set up along the course and get great action shots. They may also be willing to hold a bag with your stuff so you don't have to worry about wearing a pack or losing your keys in the mud.

  • Bring towels and plastic bags for after the race. Plan to be covered head-to-toe in mud. Put your muddy shoes and clothes in the plastic bags to keep your car from getting completely covered in mud.
    There are sometimes showers at the end of the race, but they are always crowded and usually cold. If you leave a jug of water and some towels in your car, you can quickly clean up and change. Then head back to the post-race party and enjoy the festivities.


Mud Runs and Obstacle Course Races are a great way to get active, get outdoors with friends, and have a great time challenging yourself. But being well prepared, planning ahead for what you will encounter, and being aware of your surroundings on race day will go a long way in keeping you safe and healthy for your first mud run.
For more tips and training check out our Total Mud Run Training Guide: Everything You Need to Prepare for Your First 5K or 10K Mud Run, accessible to all TWR Members. Or you can try out a free week of training from the book by signing up to receive our fitness newsletter.


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5 Common Mistakes That Sabotage Your Weight Loss Efforts

5 Common Mistakes That Sabotage Your Weight Loss Efforts


1-1-1-10109062_xlLosing weight is something that challenges many of us. In life, it is pretty easy to find ourselves gaining weight, especially when our schedules keep us so busy with work and play that we have a hard time fitting in healthy eating and exercise.

When we finally stop to see the results of our choices, we realize the need to make a change to improve our health and trim down our waist lines.

But if the process of gaining weight is so easy, why is it so difficult to put that process in reverse?

Losing weight should be simply a numbers game, but in reality, there are other factors that contribute to the speed and efficiency of how those numbers work for or against our efforts.

Here are 5 common mistakes that sabotage your weight loss efforts that you should avoid making:


  1.  Not Sleeping Enough. This is a big mistake. Being tired not only causes you to feel cranky and run down but it also reduces your energy levels and your workouts - if you can even manage to attempt them - will not be nearly as intense as if you are well rested.
    If you are working out at a lower level of intensity or for a shorter time period, than you will not be generating the same level of calorie-burn as you would at a higher intensity or performing for a greater length of time.
    If you are not burning as many calories in your workouts, that you have to further restrict your calorie intake in order to achieve the deficit you need for weight loss.
    This can leave you feeling even more drained and without the energy or drive to stick with your plan you will likely fall off long before reaching your weight loss goals.

  3. Working Out Too Much. I get it, working out is fun. You begin to feel energized by getting in a good workout and breaking a sweat. You will begin to crave the way a good workout makes you feel and it gets even better once you can see the results of your labor.
    5527987_mlBut the goal of a quality weight loss program is not simply to watch the number on the scale go down, but to make sure that the decrease you are seeing is from fat loss and not muscle breakdown.

    After all, muscle burns fat faster so if slimming down is your goal then you want to keep all the muscle you’ve got, and maybe even gain a little.

    In order to accomplish this you need a program that incorporates a balance between cardio and resistance training with the proper rest periods woven in.

    If you are working the same muscles under a high load on consecutive days then you are not giving those muscles adequate time to rest and recover. That means they do not have the opportunity to heal, and thus, grow.

    Make sure that your program allows adequate rest times between workouts so that you can experience the maximum benefits of all your hard work.

    For a good example of a workout schedule that allows adequate rest time between workouts check out this free week of workouts.


  5. Not Eating Enough. Though this may seem counter-intuitive when trying to lose weight, the reality is, if you are not eating enough food to fuel your day-to-day activities as well as your workouts then your weight loss will likely come to a halt.
    While it does take some time for your body to actually go into “starvation mode” and begin storing anything you eat as fat, the truth is that not properly fueling your body is a great way to slow down and otherwise damage your metabolism. This will make growing muscle and losing fat a much more difficult task.

    Creating a new metabolic environment is a much better way to lose body fat and sculpt the new figure you are looking for. You can do this by eating more and working out at a higher intensity, mixing up your workouts, or even cycling your meals differently.

    Whatever you choose to do to create this new environment, however, make sure that your total caloric intake is falling within the optimal range for fat burning without dropping so far that you are losing muscle (up to 500 calorie deficit a day.) The best and healthiest way to lose weight and change the way you look and feel is to make sure you are providing your body with the proper nutrition it needs. Find out your optimal calorie range


  7. Not Eating Enough of the Right Foods. While getting the right amount of calories for your needs is a very important factor in weight loss, what you eat to fulfill those needs is as important if not more so.
    Nutrition is not just about providing our body with calories to fuel energy expenditure, but also to provide it with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. All foods are not created equal, where your calories come from will have a massive effect on how you feel, how you perform, and how well you recover from your workouts as well.
    Take a look at the following example: An order of french fries contains roughly the same amount of calories as this chicken meal, however, the latter provides much more nutrients that your body needs.

    Sugar Detox Challenge6

    If you don't get enough of one nutrient in your diet than you may begin to suffer side effects from nutrient deficiency. You should be striving to get your daily calories from nutrient dense sources and aim for a specific balance of micronutrients that will assist in reaching your weight loss goals.
    For more detailed information about what you should be eating check out this podcast on Nutrition for Weight Loss.


  9. Not Sticking With It.When trying to lose weight many of us fail to stick with a program long enough to achieve lasting results. Developing new habits takes time, often much longer than we would like. But, once your new behaviors begin to feel like second-nature, maintaining the positive effects that those behaviors cause is much easier.
    Returning to old behaviors and bad habits will eventually lead you back to where you started and will cause frustration and likely make you want to give up. Focus on being consistent with your actions and practicing the new habits of your program regularly, even after beginning to see results. This will help you developing lasting habits which in turn will give you lasting results.

Fitness and weight loss can be a bit confusing with all the contradicting information that is floating around the web. It is important that whatever your fitness goals, you are making your health and well-being a priority.

I have found that the best plans for achieving weight loss that not only is realistic for day-to-day life but also sustainable in the long term, are those that help you find a balance between diet and exercise that can fit into your lifestyle. These programs will have you implement small changes slowly in order for you to make lasting positive habits that you can live with.


For many people the most difficult part of losing weight is learning how to plan their meals accordingly eating enough throughout their day to sustain their activity without eating too much.
We have created  a week-long meal plan that provides a great template you can follow to get started in your own meal planning. Each of the meals in the plan are around 300 calories, and the snacks range from 150-200.

(Note: The included plan is appropriate for someone who needs to net 1200-1500 calories a day in order to lose weight. If you require higher net calories adjust your portion sizes or eat more snacks to increase the daily calories. To find your daily calorie needs for your goals go here.)

To gain access to a free week of training and the fat loss meal plan, click the button below.

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