I’ve run three Warrior Dashes and a Tough Mudder (soon to do a Savage Race) and completed all of them with excellent times. As an extreme race veteran, I often get asked how to train for a mud run. So, here are my tips and tricks to prepare for even the most difficult mud runs.
First, you’ll need to figure out the details of the mud run you’re doing. They vary from around two to twenty (or more). You’ll also need to see the type and number of obstacles involved. All of this will have an impact on the type of workouts you choose.
It’s also important to realistically assess your own fitness and health levels. Mud runs (and training for mud runs) require a lot of strength and stamina. Make sure that you have enough time to get to that minimal level of health and fitness required to compete (this will very according to the race’s intensity).
The first aspect of knowing how to train for a mud run is the fitness component. Your fitness plan should, first and foremost, be centered around one exercise: running. It’s not the most exciting (compared to fun obstacles), but running makes up the majority of most mud runs. So, you need to master it.
It’s vital to run similar conditions to your mud run if possible. So, if you are doing a hilly Tough Mudder or Spartan Race, then make sure to train on hills. If your Warrior Dash or Savage Race is in a flatter area, try to train on flat territory. If your race is five miles, try to run close to that amount (or build up to it).
Of course, it’s not always possible to mimic the conditions if you live in different geography. But, do the best you can.
Training for the obstacles seems tough because it’s hard to mimic them (short of being extremely wealthy and obsessed). But, there’s no need to mimic the obstacles when training for a mud run. What’s important is training in a way that develops the muscle groups to have the strength and stamina to complete the obstacles.
I have found that my biggest asset in training for the obstacles of extreme races and mud runs is interval training that works the major muscle groups, especially the core. Interval training involves intense bursts of exercise followed by a brief break.
This essentially mimics the obstacles. They are difficult, but brief. Interval training is this way too. Although there are various programs, I have found Beachbody’s Insanity and its sequels, Asylum Volume 1 and Volume 2 work well. Their focus on the core is especially useful for stability going up and down hills and on the obstacles.
In fact, my mud run training routine has been solely focused on running (six to eight miles) combined with interval training through Insanity products. I have never had an obstacle that I couldn’t complete. However, other programs work well and so would traditional calisthenics (push ups, etc.) and/or weight lifting.
However, there are training regimens you should probably avoid if doing a mud run. Anything overly focused on distance running or body building would not be ideal. You want a combination of strength, speed, and endurance. The best body type is a sleek, muscular one.
Finally, you’ll want to start some type of stretching. These races require a good deal of flexibility (jumping over gaps anyone?). The more agile and nimble you can be, the better!
This is a part of training for a mud run, so I thought I’d say a little about it. While there is no preferred nutritional program until the day of, you need fuel that’s going to feed muscle building and allow you to get a lean physique.
Basically, you’ll want to make sure you don’t consume too many calories and avoid eating junk food. It’s also important to keep your protein levels high enough to facilitate muscle growth. Make sure that you also stay hydrated, especially when training in the heat.
So, here are our tips explaining how to train for a mud run. I hope they were helpful! As mentioned earlier, these are only one person’s way (even though it was a successful way). Please share your own tips in the comments below. Also, let us know the race (Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, Savage Race, etc.).