How I Got My Ass Kicked in a Mud Run

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

Last weekend was the big local mud run, the MuckFest MS here in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s a great event thoroughly embraced by the local community to raising money for Multiple Sclerosis.

This was my fifth year in a row running the wonderful event. Last year I won the competitive division so I was very excited to race this year with the opportunity to defend my title.

That didn’t happen!

What did happen was I got my ass kicked….and I loved it.  I had to literally dive across the finish line to tie for third place, while my chip time earned me fourth-place.

Finishing video:  Mud Run Ryan Jax 2013

As crazy as it sounds, I actually had more fun battling it out for second place with Jesse Davis and Ashton Manly this year than I did winning the race solo last year. The truth of the matter is it’s the competition and the challenges that gets me excited to both train and race.

I tip my hat to Joe Rivera who demonstrated his fitness, his ex-Marine toughness and his competitive nature in winning this year’s race.  He ran hard from start to finish and earned the victory.

Lessons Learned for This Mudder

I learned a lot from last week and race that will make me better mud racer in the future. I like to share those lessons with you.

1.  Train Your Engine Like You Race Your Engine

I have a great running group here in Ponte Vedra Beach that I trained with 2-3 times per week. We get great distance work in but mud runs are very stop and go races.

Getting long slow distance is perfect to build the base but if your race is higher intensity with short intervals, you need to train that way. In other words I didn’t train my body/legs/heart to go to 90% effort and then allow my heart rate to go down to approximate 50% as it will when I’m was maneuvering an obstacle in the race.

2.  Air Is Thinner Than Water

This one sounds too simple but it could have saved me 5 to 20 seconds per obstacle. It’s a lot easier to sail through the air than it is to trudge through water and mud.

Jump as far as possible out over the water to shorten the distance I needed to do to get out of the mud and water.  Increasing your distance through the air will decrease your time in the water and significantly shorten how long it takes you to exit the obstacle.

3.  Attack the Obstacles Or They’ll Attack You

I lost second place in last weekend’s race because of my effort on the last three obstacles. If I had been more aggressive attacking the last three obstacles, it would have given me ample time to solidify the silver medal position.

A higher tempo approach on the challenges will help you carry more momentum through the obstacle and keep you sharper when you start to run again. I think this has a lot to do with having an offensive mindset instead of a defense of mindset on challenging obstacles.

4.  Know the Home Stretch

I didn’t know all the obstacles in the last half-mile the race and that was a mistake. Briefly seeing what’s in store for the last part of a race is a smart decision. Knowing that homestretch prior to the race is a much-needed confidence booster during the middle race when things start to get tough.

Mudder Closing

Mud racing is one of the fastest growing sports in the world for good reason. Learning ways to make it more fun and safer for my readers is very important for me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on valuable tips and suggestions that you’ve learned from your workouts and races.  Please share your thoughts.  Stay healthy and happy, MDR.


Inside the Mud Run

This weekend’s mud run race is a big deal in Jacksonville.  Organized and run by the Northeast Florida Chapter of the National MS Society, the local mud run is an extremely popular race for many reasons.  From the raising of the much-needed money to combat Multiple Sclerosis to the physical challenge of a brutal 6.2 mile race through the mud and challenging obstacle to the bonding opportunities involved with such a unique event, the MuckRuckus MS Jacksonville is special.

Yesterday at work, one of my co-workers told me that he was thinking about not racing in the race and “waiting until next year.”  “Don’t even think about it” I said firmly.  Explaining how much fun it is, the fellowship associated with the event and the ability to raise $$ for a crippling disease was much more important than a few nervous butterflies.  He’s in.

This will be my 4th time I’ve competed in this event.  The first year I raced on a 5 man team with 4 local firefighter friends.  I was hooked 2 miles into the race.  I love running off-road and I’m a huge fan of total body challenges that include mental toughness to do well.  Hence the reason why compete in multi-sport events and why I don’t work in a cubicle in a high-rise office building downtown.

The Fun in the Mud

The sport of mud running is one of the fastest growing sports in the world.  Everyone talks about the popularity growth of mixed martial arts (MMA).  Mudders will tell you that they are very different sports for obvious reasons.  MMA is a sport that people watch dudes getting kicked in the head where mud running gets you off the couch and into the sport.  We have no shortage of reasons to keep people sitting on their butts.  We need more activities to get all of us off the couch and back into enhancing our health.

I’ve finished in 2nd place the last two years in the MS Society mud run’s individual race.  Each race has been very challenging, lots of fun and extremely competitive.  All three reasons are why I keep coming back.

Tips to Get the Most Out of the Mud

If you’re new to the sport and you’re nervous, it simply means that you’re human.  Here are a few tips to help make this race less stressful and more fun.  As the  Sports Medicine Advisor to the National MS Society, I enjoy sharing sports medicine tips to help the racers to stay safe and avoid running injuries.

Sports Medicine Tips for the MuckRuckus MS

 Last Tip

Have fun.  Having a healthy mindset is the best place to start for these type of races.  Enjoy the challenge, laugh with your fellow racers, thank the volunteers, acknowledge the fans cheering for you and be proud of what you’re accomplishing.  You’re stepping out of your comfort zone to make your body stronger, your mind dream bigger and the quality of life for those stricken with MS so much better!  I’m proud of you and you should be proud of yourself.

Let’s get dirty!!