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.


Healthy Attitude + Healthy Habits = Living The Dream

Image by Carlos A. Fernandez 15225 SW 156 terr. Miami FL, 33187, (305) 252-3386I ran 10 miles yesterday morning with Dawn, Beth, Kevin and Rob.  It’s a great group of runners and even better people.  They’re optimistic, energetic, healthy, humorous and fast: just the type of workout partners I need to motivate me to get out of bed at 4 AM.

As I listened to their stories yesterday morning, something became very clear to me.  Although we all came from different parts of the country with diverse backgrounds and careers, we all had share a common bond of a healthy attitudes & healthy habits.  There’s never any bitching about work or the economy or how painful the run is.  The topics range from past races, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ upcoming NFL Draft options, ambitious future race plans and healthy stories.  All in all, it’s a group of well-conditioned friends with the type of outlook on life that we all need to be around more often.

The Lineup

Dawn is a marathoning machine in gymnast body.  She’s well organized in her approach to each race with the Paris Marathon in her sights next month.  I really respect this dancer-turned-runner’s drive to stay healthy.  The early riser approaches running, tennis, cross-training and life with the excitement of a 6-year-old on Christmas morning.  Dawn is the youngest of the group and we all appreciate her youthful enthusiasm.

Rob and Kevin are great guys and loyal Jaguars fans regardless of our Win-Loss record.  They enjoy the preparation for the 6+ races a year they compete in as much as they do the post-race parties.  Both successful businessmen, they know how important it is to stay healthy and they dedicate their mornings to enhancing their fitness.  I thoroughly enjoy my time with them because they are always upbeat about their lives as devoted husbands, fathers and athletes. Based on their healthy attitude and fitness discipline, I could see both of these young men running races into their 70’s!

Beth shared her blessings of having a strong marriage, a long and healthy gene-pool,  an exciting career and a sincere passion for being very healthy since she was a teenager.  She referenced a neighbor from her youth who exercised every morning and the positive impression it made on her 35+ years ago.  Her fitness level and athleticism is obvious and a result of her hard work and diligence.

Recently our early morning gang of running thugs on the “mean streets of Ponte Vedra Beach” is missing our official leader of the group, Rushton.  I ran my first Ironman triathlon with Ruston in Hawaii in 1994 and have ben close friends ever since.  She is one of the most motivated non-professional athletes I’ve ever know and I have a ton of respect for her as a person and an athlete.  She’s overcoming a recent heel surgery and we’re all cheering for her to recover in record time.  She’s not running now but we all know that she’ll be back winning her age group in road races by Memorial Day.

Lessons Learned

I’ve learned so much from my healthy friends and so can you.

Stay the Course – Consistency is a valuable variable with fitness.  Making the time to exercise and eat properly is priceless if you want awesome results compared to simply tying to find the time to workout.

It All Starts With the Head – Having a positive attitude about your body and what you want to do with it is the first step.  Unlike your car, computer or house, you can’t simply trade your body in for a shiny new one so you better work on making this one better.  When I’m running down the road at 4:30 AM checking out the raccoon in the grass or the moon-lit sky, I get excited about being extremely alive in my mini-adventure not envious of my warm pillow.

Like Charges Attract – If you want to be healthy and exercise properly, spend more time hanging out with people who do just that.  I love the quote: “Successful people consistently do what unsuccessful people don’t like to do.”  If you truly want to have outstanding health, have healthy friends who embrace fitness with a positive attitude.

Challenging Yourself – There’s only two ways to motivate yourself:  Pleasure or Pain.  Either something feels good (positive reinforcement) or it hurts (negative reinforcement).  In reality, most challenges in our lives encompass a combination of the two.  For me and my friends, competing in races and competition gives us a goal to prepare for to challenge ourselves.  Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself because it’s a great way to grow, to get stronger both physically and mentally and to learn priceless lessons on how to both win and lose…..such as life itself.


How to Maintain the Greatest Machine in the World []

The Human Body is one of the greatest machines in the world. Marathon runners are one’s that put their body through numerous strains and pains to achieve maximum performance. A key way for marathon runners to avoid fatigue and injury is to properly train the body in hydration and food consumption. Learn how to remain healthy and running fast.

Marathon Runners {Photo: dmytrok)

The Human Body is one of the greatest machines in the world. It can be put through rigorous workouts and still perform at premium levels.

Marathon runners put their body through numerous strains and pains to achieve maximum performance. A key way for marathon runners to avoid fatigue and injury is to properly train the body in hydration and nutrition. By eating proper food’s and drinking the right amount of water before, during and after a race can make all the difference in the world for a runner stopping short of the finish line with an injury or crossing it with a record best.

Our country is presently experiencing one of the hottest summers on record.  Hydration and nutrition for a runner is a very important factor for a runner to avoid injuries.

These key training tips can keep a runner performing at a premium level and to stay healthy.


Increasing your mileage to train for a marathon puts your body through numerous stresses and strains. In preparing for the 26.2 mile run, your body will undergo a series of important changes to adapt to the increased mileage. The human body is remarkable in what it can adapt to, but if you want to help yourself to the finish line without suffering illness or injury, you need to support your body through your diet and hydration. Small changes to what and when you eat and drink can make all the difference to running well and achieving your goals.

Preparation and Training

Carbo-loading: When training for a marathon, it is important to eat a lot of complex carbohydrates from foods such as bread, pasta, potatoes and rice. The energy you get from these foods is slow release energy and will keep you strong for long periods after you consume them.

While running, your body will burn off the fat reserves it has first before making you crave carbohydrates. The longer you run, the more carbohydrates your body will need. This means it’s important to steadily increase your carb intake with the intensity of your training as the weeks and months pass – too much of an early increase can often lead to weight gain.

It’s also very important to not become too obsessed with your carb intake at the expense of the other food groups; a good marathon runner will need healthy portions of proteins and unsaturated fats as well to keep muscles in optimum condition. Remember that your total fat intake should be no more than 35% of your total energy consumption.

Hydration: During your everyday life you should be consuming a minimum of 1.5 litres of water a day, however as you increase your training, this should rise to between 2 and 2.5 litres a day. The fluid should be taken on steadily rather than being gulped vigorously at random intervals.

When taking fluids with you on a run, it’s best to include sports drinks.  The sodium, calories and electrolytes included with sports drinks such as Gatorade are vital to maintaining a high level of intensity in any environmental condition.

Timing: One of the big mistakes people make during their training is when to position their main meals around their runs, especially the longer runs which are vital to preparing for a marathon. Often people like to do their long run early in the morning so they skip breakfast. This will make your physical conditioning very difficult and hamper your ability to train well; you must never attempt long runs on an empty stomach.

Similarly, don’t do your long run when you get home from work if you haven’t had lunch. However, it is also foolish to attempt a long run on a full stomach as that can make you feel ill and lead to vomiting. The ideal situation is to have a good meal two hours before a long run.

On the run: As you run further and further during your training, you will need to start to refuelling while on the move. This is usually necessary for any run that lasts longer than an hour. It’s important to get into the habit of doing this early, as it will help you train better and get you used to refuelling on race day.

Energy drinks, gels or bars replenish your energy levels as these products are full of glucose and complex carbs. Practice consuming different products to see which ones you like the most. Some gels require you to drink water at the same time as you eat them, while others are more water based so can be taken on their own. Test both to see which works best for you.

By taking gels and bars on your long runs, it’s helpful to practice opening them and consuming them while on the move.  It’s not as easy as it looks.  Finding the best way for your to carrying them, either in pockets in your shorts or in a running belt, is also another thing to know before race day.

Before the Race

After the months of training and preparation the last thing you want to do is to ruin things by not preparing properly on race day. Marathons usually start early to mid-morning which means you will need to get up get up extra early to give you time to eat and digest breakfast before the start. Once awake you MUST eat breakfast, failure to do so will make the 26.2 mile run a nightmare.

A perfect breakfast will consist of things such as non-citrus fruit, porridge, muesli, toast, and water.  Try and stay clear of the full English option! However what’s more important is stick to what you’re used to, this is not the time to drastically change anything so if you’ve been regularly eating a certain type of cereal and drinking a certain type of fruit juice – then make sure you have the same.

Try and drink around a litre of water before the race so that you’re well hydrated, anymore and you could encounter problems early on. Try and take some food with you to the start line such as a banana. This will give you a last boost before the start.

During the Race

During the race, always start to drink before you feel thirsty. If you leave it too late, you will be too dehydrated which is difficult to recover from whilst still running. It will then encourage you to take on too much fluid at the next available opportunity and cause you even more problems.

The best thing to do is to take on a small amount of fluid at each available drinks station. At most marathons, they have regular water check points so even if you don’t feel as if you need it, just take on a couple of sips and then discard the cup. Many marathons also have drinks stations for certain energy drink brands. If you take on these, make sure it is a product you have practised drinking in training, otherwise, it could give you an upset stomach.

Crowds watching the runners will often offer drinks and food. While their intentions maybe good, it is advisable not accept these offerings and stick to the official check points.

After the Race

Well done! You’ve made it over the finish line in one piece and completed one of the most difficult physical challenges anyone can take part in. Naturally at this point you’ll be extremely exhausted and your emotions will be running high.  It’s important to prevent injury and illness by refuelling and letting yourself recover fully over the next 24 hours.

In the first hour after finishing the race, you will need to rehydrate so start taking on fluids straight away. As always, don’t gulp down large amounts but conservatively sip some water so you take in about half a litre over the hour. While doing this, you will also need an energy drink to get your glucose levels up, this will also help you to control food cravings. During this hour its best stick to eating small snacks and then have a good meal later on in the evening.

It may be tempting to consume alcohol and junk foods that taste great but don’t have much nutritional value, try and resist this temptation by having a healthy meal with plenty of complex carbs and protein. But a small glass of celebratory wine or a beer an hour or so after is well deserved!

Running a marathon is never easy and no matter what preparations you make, it’s going to be a real test of your physical ability and mental resolve. Take the time and effort to get your nutritional routines in order early and you’ll reap the rewards on race day.

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