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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.

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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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