Here's what you need to know to survive a mud run!

Authored by Katie Neier, physical therapist at ATI Physical Therapy

Recently, one of my good friends asked me to participate with her in a Tough Mudder. Before I knew what I was getting myself into, I agreed to sign up. Then I looked at the obstacles. The course will cover between 10-12 miles, with obstacles including scaling walls, crawling through mud, and dunking yourself in ice cold water.  I would call myself an average runner, with minimal upper body strength but I was clearly going to need a plan to get ready for this challenge. In order to get myself into Tough Mudder shape, there are a few guidelines I’m going to have to follow:

1. Start slow - The race is several months away, so there is no rush to start training hard. Increasing mileage abruptly when running is a recipe for injury. Running 2-3 days a week, consistently, is a good way to start. A mileage increase of 10-15% per week is a general rule of thumb to follow.

2. Get a schedule - Unless I have a plan of when I work out and what I am going to do, whether it’s run, strength train, or a combination, it’s easy to blow off a workout. Having a buddy to train with helps as well.

3. Cross train - Running is good cardio, but in order to develop different muscle groups and prevent injury, cross training is essential. Biking, elliptical, stair-master, or swimming are all good choices.

4. Strength train - There will be several different kinds of obstacles, requiring both upper and lower body strength. If you don’t have access to weights, or even if you do, body weight exercises and plyometrics are a good way to build muscle. Pull-ups, pushups, squats, and lunges are just some examples. Don’t forget to include lateral movements, such as lateral lunges and hops. Again, strength training will help decrease the likelihood of injury.

5. Eat right, sleep right - These may seem like no brainers, but are often forgotten. Your body has its best chance to perform well with the right nutrition and proper sleep.