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Health & Fitness: Training Different for Mud Runs

By Kim Duke NETA & AFAA Certified Trainer

Last year, I decided to tackle the Mudslide event at Holiday Valley. My dear friend, Kristen Sciara, encouraged me that this would be a fun event. So, Kristen and I recruited others from Core Performance Fitness and Training Studio to embark on this run as a team.

We headed up to the Spruce Lake and ran, in the rain and in the cold, and in the mud! If you can recall, last spring was VERY rainy. There was so much rain that the puddles actually needed to be cleaned out before the Mudslide date due to so many critters calling the puddles their home.

When the day of the Mudslide arrived, my team and I were ready. As I embarked on the run and obstacles, I quickly realized that all of our training was going to pay off!

So, here is our topic for discussion: Should you train differently for a mud run or obstacle course?

Simply put — YES! The types of courses present challenges that are not seen in a traditional 5K. You have uneven surfaces, obstacles to conquer and miles of various terrain and elevation to consider. That means you need balance, strength, endurance and flexibility.

Balance teaches the muscles to react quicker and helps the body learn to make fast automatic adjustments. High-speed reactive agility becomes increasingly critical as athletes move to higher levels of competition. The key rule in balance training is you must be slightly out of balance to train balance. Single-leg jumping drills and accessories like BOSUs fit into a balance program. Conquering the balance challenge develops a body that is capable of linking the mind and the muscles almost intuitively, to the point where the muscles quickly respond to the mind’s commands.

As far as strength is concerned, most athletes agree that in order to be strong, you must build strength from the center of the body out to the periphery — this means your core or speed center. These muscles include your abdominals, lower back and hip musculature. For a solid base of support capable of transferring power through the kinetic chain, athletes need to build core strength through a variety of controlled movements that allow powerful explosive strength training that accommodates a full range of motion and whole body skill movements.

Both of these forms of training allow for cardiovascular improvements, but nothing beats hitting the slopes for some real-time training. Interval training and circuit training on the hill is a great way to get started. What does that mean?

Run one mile, do 10-20 push-ups. Run another mile and do 10-20 squats. Run another mile and then bear crawl 10 yards. Add triceps dips/pull-ups, skip, and hop and leap your way down the trail. All of these activities with develop a stronger you.

Finally, always spend time stretching. Your cool down may seem like a simple task worth short changing but in reality, stretching is an essential part of training your muscles to become more injury resistant and helps reduce muscle soreness.

Also, plan on sacrificing your running shoes after this race. Getting those shoes clean is like getting a mud puddle ready for the prom … it’s not going to happen.

Now that you have all the tools for a successful mud run, check out the Mudslide Obstacle Trail Run at Holiday Valley on June 14. Details are at www.holidayvalley.com. Get ready for a fun day with running, mud, obstacles and lots of happy people!

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