This Saturday’s Tough Mudder- Jacksonville is coming to town with lots of hype. Known for it’s very original and tough-guy obstacles, the Tough Mudder has the local mudders nervous and excited….myself included.
For those of you preparing for your first race in the mud, you’re about to embark on the best workout and challenge of your life! If you’re a veteran of obstacle races, every race provides you with an opportunity to test the toughness of both your body and your mind. THAT’s why I continue to sign-up for these challenges and I’m sure I’m not alone in my reasoning.
Keeping it Safe
As a certified athletic trainer and physical therapist in the NFL for 25+ years, I’ve learned a thing or two about staying healthy. I want to share tips to keep you safe racing in a mud run. Getting to the finish line is your goal while getting you to that finish line healthy is my goal.
Here’s a few simple sports medicine tips to keep you safer on “race day.”
Before the Mud Run Race…..
Grease Up – Blisters can quickly ruin a great race. Coating Vaseline on toes, inner thighs and anywhere necessary will enhance your comfort on race day.
Don’t Be a Sponge – Wear thin socks, water-friendly boots/sneakers, non-cotton pants and a thin shirt to avoid carrying an extra 4-5 lbs during the race.
Rollin’ Time – Using a therapy roller before all workouts and races will mobilize your muscles and help you prevent injuries.
Push the Carbs – Bagels, whole-grain cereals and pasta are all smart options. Stop being a “carb hater” and load up the type of fuel that you’ll need during your race.
Be Nice to Your Dogs – Find the right kind of supportive high-top racing shoes and break them in well before the race. Wear thin calf-high socks to reduce your chance of calf and arch strains.
Plank Time – I learned this the hard way. You’ll be doing lots of crawling during the race so performing a few front and side planks before the race. This will help you engage your entire core musculature for the big race.
During the Mud Run Race…..
Drink Early & Often – In any weather, you need fluids early & often. A smart plan I use with my professional football players is: “Drink 50% water/50% sports drink before, during & after game day.” This plan will give you the 4 essentials needed for a hard-working body: fluids, salt, calories and electrolytes.
Smart Footing – Running a more level “line” is not always easy to do with hundreds of athletes around you in the mud. I rolled my ankle twice in mud runs and both times are when I wasn’t paying attention to where I was running. A shorter and wider stride will keep your ankles and knees safer on slippery and muddy surfaces.
Climb to the Bottom – I know lots of orthopedic surgeons and lets just say that many of them get lots of customers from mud runs. Jumping down or climbing off an obstacle is a very common mechanism of injury for mudders. The solution: Climb down to the bottom of the ladder or obstacle. Avoid the urge to jump down the last 5 feet just to save an extra few seconds.
Jump Out, Not Down – Water is a common theme in mud races. Jumping out over the water is safer than jumping down into the edge of the water. Entering the water away from the closest shore will minimize your risk of being landed on and cut down on your time in the water.
Check out the Scenery During the Race – How is that going to keep me healthy? High fiving the crowd and thanking the volunteers are two proven examples of ways to slow down, enjoy the fitness fun of a great event and to keep you in the mindset of reaching the end of the race healthy & happy.
It’s time to get muddy and have some fun. I hope these tips help keep you healthy and make your race what it’s supposed to be: a fun fitness challenge for you and your friends!
Stay Healthy & Happy!