As you may know, I’m in the midst of a yearlong challenge in which I’m doing at least one mud run or obstacle race a month and writing about it. After my write-up of the Warrior Dash, I got an email from “Muddy Buddy” asking for mud run tips. Without further ado, here are some of the things I’ve picked up from my partner-in-mud-racing Diana from the events we’ve done thus far.
Understand that after you finish a mud run, you will probably be covered from head to toe in mud, sweat and overall filth. Also understand that most race facilities aren’t equipped with formal showers that can accommodate thousands of racers staggered through half-hour heats. You may just have access to a hose, or you may have the luxury of a cordoned-off portion of a lake.
Some mud run events have dedicated changing rooms, but in both of the races I’ve done, we opted to change in the car with strategically placed towels. (For what it’s worth, the parking lots are near-empty at these events compared to the changing areas.)
Do some online scouting before your mud run and scope out the location. Is it in a remote area or a short drive away from home? If it’s the former, you may want to pack a pre-race breakfast and post-race snack so you don’t have to rely on the food stands at the event. If it’s the latter, you could always drive and pick something up on your way home.
Now you’re ready to pack your pre-race bag. I use a vinyl eco shopping bag because it’s easy to clean, but you could also use a trash bag or other disposable bag. Whatever you choose, know that it will get dirty. Here’s what I bring to races:
I’m still experimenting with my mud run attire, but I can make a few recommendations based on my experience thus far:
Wear as little as possible. You wouldn’t believe how many jackets are strewn about the course after the first mile or so. You may be freezing at the start of the race wearing shorts and a short-sleeved performance shirt, but after the race gets going, you’ll warm up nicely, and you don’t want to have to drag a jacket tied around your waist through mud, under barbed wire and through fire. Leave it in the bag-check area instead.
No cotton. Opt for close-fitting performance fabrics, which won’t get heavy when they get wet and muddy. Baggy shorts and cotton clothing will sag and weigh you down after the first few mud obstacles. If you don’t believe me, put on your race attire, jump into the pool or take a fully clothed shower, and then run in place for a few minutes. If you’re self-conscious about your appearance in tight clothing, wear base layers comprised of performance fabrics and top them with shorts and tops that you feel more comfortable wearing.
Be smart about shoes. I am accustomed to running in my Vibram FiveFingers, which are notoriously easy to clean. Whatever shoes you run in will get muddy beyond belief. Some people intentionally wear old, ratty shoes to the race and then donate them afterward. Others purchase shoes that are only worn at mud runs and clean them carefully between races.
Whatever you wear, make sure you’ve tied any laces tightly and tucked them away. You’ll see a lot of people duct-taping their shoes onto their feet so that they stay on in deep mud, but this may cause more harm (lost traction, increased compression) than good.
Consider protective accessories. I’ve seen quite a few pairs of gloves on the course, and on the longer events I may try them out, as I have no real callouses on my hands. During the race, you’ll spend a lot of time on your hands, elbows and knees, which could lead to a few nicks and scrapes: I enjoyed the minor shin protection I got from knee-high socks on my last race, and the knee protection I got from calf-length workout pants on my first race. Some people don’t mind the abrasions, though.
Have you done a mud run or other obstacle race? What tips would you add to these?
[Author Robert Rosenblum has published a couple of dozen books, mostly under pen names, but his latest, under his real name, is a change of pace for him: A humorous thriller/mystery about a series of murders of America's diet gurus. In a country where two-thirds of the citizens are overweight or obese, this is a national emergency. CalorieLab is serializing the first few chapters of Die, Die, Diet over 11 days. You can start from the beginning here (read in reverse order).]
[The story so far: After the cake bomb murder of diet guru Soozi Pop, we were introduced to FBI agent and Special Case Active Taskforce (SCAT) desk jockey ?Bearcat? Stutz, who has been called into an urgent meeting with his boss. We now learn more of Stutz's background.]
He had been in the Philadelphia field office for eleven years when the word came six months ago that he was being transferred . He had come to feel at home in Philly; a city where he liked everything right down to its baseball team. But he never thought of protesting the move. Working with SCAT?the Bureau?s acronym for ?Special Case Active Taskforce? ?was a plum assignment. The Division?s brief was not simply to deal with those illegal matters which fell generally within FBI jurisdiction, but to deal particularly with such situations as those that involved modus operandi the Bureau had never previously encountered, highly unusual criminal plots being perpetrated simultaneously in more than one state in the union, if not within the entire country. Fulfilling this mission required teams of agents who were given latitude to range anywhere within the continental United States, roaming wherever a trail might lead at their own discretion. The one limitation on their scope was that matters determined to embrace terrorist activity sponsored by a foreign government were to be passed to another special division directly overseen by Homeland Security. Terror-related crimes that were homeland-based might still be left with SCAT, which was given free rein in the methods applied to dealing with them. In this area, the Division was said to operate with ?enhanced constitutionality.?
Because of the broad-ranging nature of SCAT operations, the Bureau staffed its field operations almost exclusively with agents who would feel free to spend extended periods away from HQ, unhindered by such attachments as wives or children or ailing widowed mothers. Care was taken to cull out individuals whose histories showed they had enough of an anti-social streak to prefer living alone, yet were sufficiently well-adjusted to cooperate and work well with others. So what had earned Stutz a position to this elite arm of the Bureau, more than anything else, was that his profile was that of a ?loner,? a person who was likeable, functional, and socially normal, yet a man who could be sent or take himself wherever he was needed, for however long, without a backward glance.
At the age of 41, a fourteen-year veteran of the Bureau, Stutz remained single, and without any binding personal responsibilities. There had been a couple of live-in girlfriends?one who dated back to near the time Stutz had joined the Bureau, and another met half-way through his term in Philly?but the first relationship had ended after five years, and the second after less than two. Interviewed by the Bureau as part of the SCAT vetting process, both women had spoken fondly of Stutz, his kindness, perfect manners, even his willingness to do housework and the pride and pleasure he took in his favorite leisure activity, baking. Both said the over-riding cause of the break-ups was their realization that Stutz was never going to make the supreme commitment of marriage. And there was one other point of agreement. He was, as one of the ex-girlfriends had put it , ?a little too?low-key.? Or as the other admitted, ?I expected something more exciting from an FBI man. A touch of the unpredictable now and then, maybe a hint of danger, a love of risk. Y?know, a kind of James Bond thing? There was none of that with Stutzie. He wasn?t a James Bond guy,? she summed up. ?He was a Savings Bond guy.?
His service record showed that he had been recipient of a couple of special commendations for important investigative insights, and one for bravery ?-the latter related to an off-duty incident when he been in a pizza parlor buying a couple of slices for supper, the oven had exploded, and he had dashed straight into the inferno to lead to safety two kitchen workers who were temporarily blinded by a hail of melted mozzarella and other toppings. In short, not an especially distinguished career, but positive nonetheless.
Stutz had arrived in Washington eager for the prospect of work that would test him in new ways, take him to new places, and allow a degree of independence unparalleled within the strict procedures of the Bureau. But he had found himself instead assigned to a desk, watching wistfully as agents were dispatched to roam the map tracking down rings of art thieves, infiltrating bands of counterfeiters and money-launderers, and exposing networks of porn peddlers. Not that he was idle. His desk was in the Analysis Studies Section?SCAT-ASS in acronym shorthand?where he was one of a score of agents who pored over records of new and past cases as well as media sources to target any criminal activities that merited investigation by this special Division. The job wasn?t unimportant, nor uninteresting.
All the same, Stutz was not happy being an ASS man. He had come to SCAT expecting to be on the front lines.
He knew better, however, than to complain. Keeping him at a desk might be a deliberate test of his patience, his flexibility, his willingness to loyally accept whatever the Bureau demanded. Perhaps honing his analytical skills was an important part of preparing him to be sent eventually into the field.
But after three months had passed, it occurred to him that accepting a desk job without a peep of protest might be judged failing a different test. Displaying the necessary amount of courage and initiative could call for announcing his dissatisfaction and impatience to see action.
He had gone at last to speak to Mangrum.
[Stop by tomorrow for the next installment of Die, Die, Diet, or buy the full Kindle book now.]
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On our Lab Notes page CalorieLab’s editors select and rank the day’s essential health news items in real time. Readers can suggest, vote and comment on items. Below are brief summaries of yesterday’s (April 26, 2012) Lab Notes items. To see today’s items, visit Lab Notes.
Results from a long term study found that consuming a high amount blueberries and strawberries may stave off cognitive decline for up to almost three years in older women.
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