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.


Author: Mike Ryan

After 26 seasons as a full-time certified athletic trainer and registered physical therapist in the National Football League, Mike Ryan has outstanding first-hand experience. His unique professional and athletic background has sharpened his skills in the arts of sports injury management, elite rehabilitation, performance enhancement and injury prevention. Mike is now taking his experience to mainstream America. His mission is simple: Sports Medicine advice that is easy to use and brings fast results. Learn more about Mike Ryan

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