[Part Three of a Three-Part Article on the Mud Run]
All good things come in threes: scoops of ice cream, The Lord of the Rings, the main galaxy morphological classifications and articles telling you everything you need to know to prepare for the Mud Run.
In this catch-all article I’m collecting anything that didn’t fit neatly into the training or what to wear categories. So let’s continue with answering your questions and then summarize everything in a nice little checklist.
I’ve collected my equipment. Should I train with it or save it for race day? It is worthwhile to run about 3 miles in your team uniform before the race. There is a big difference in wearing cheap boots with long pants and running shorts with weightless comfy shoes. I wouldn’t do this more than once if your equipment is on par with most. I know my boots tend to hurt my feet. The point of trying it all out is to make sure it doesn’t fall apart too easily, doesn’t cause blisters, etc.
If you really want to get a taste of potential problems before the race, when you do your test run, do it near a pool, river or at least a garden hose. Get wet. Do your pants fall off? Better get a belt. Do the pockets fill with water? Might need to poke holes in them.
What about right before the race? Anything special then? I’d recommend that you hit your longest run one to two weeks before the race. Once you get into the week of the race, take it easy. Moderate upper body and core stuff. Limit your running to short easy runs of three to five miles. Most importantly, don’t do any exercise two days before the run. Be sure to eat well during this time. No junk food. Get plenty of sleep the night before the race. The rule of thumb for running is that carb loading doesn’t do a lot if you aren’t running for at least an hour. This course is tough to judge since you use your entire body and fast teams will finish in 45 minutes while mostly-walking teams will go for about 3 hours. It probably wouldn’t hurt to eat something like a whole wheat spaghetti dinner the night before, but just don’t overdo it. Avoid eating items high in fat or fiber that will sit in your stomach a long time. Go to the event website and look at the results from last year. The course may be significantly different than the previous year but it will give you an idea of where in your group of racers you might finish.
What about race day itself? Have all of your gear fire-manned the day before so all you have to do on race day it put it on. Get your timing chip on you boots and walk around. This is your last minute check to make sure you have everything and it all works. Leave your jewelry and anything else extraneous at home. Get to the starting line an hour before you plan to run. It is usually more of a madhouse than most of the Jax races so it will take some time to find the start. Be sure to have eaten a couple of hours before you run. Be sure to drink some water (maybe 8-12 oz) about 30 min before you run. I don’t like to stretch before I run. If you do, don’t forget that. After the race I’ll do my stretching. When it comes time to line up remember where your team might fall in the pack and be courteous and line up there. Think you are faster than about half the teams? Line up at the midpoint of the group not the front of the line. Expecting to walk? Start at the back.
What about finding my team before the race? This is a real weak point of this event. There is no central info center or check-in place. People will be wandering around. Your best bet is to meet up with your team off site and ride to the event together in one vehicle. Be sure that everyone has a mobile phone with them the day of the event before you meet. This way whoever is late can update everyone else. Of course, don’t take your phones from the meet-up place to the run.
What about during the race? You will find that even in the competitive division there is much less of a serious tone than other races. Do your part to keep the event upbeat and fun. Cheering for other teams is normal. Assisting other teams on obstacles is always good. I have been pleasantly surprised at how often one team following another will steady a cargo net, grab a rope swing, etc.
What kind of goals should I set for myself? Consider setting two goals for yourself. That way you have more chances to win and more potential positives to build on. If this is your first organized event, commit to training on a regular basis and attempting the course on race day.
If you’ve done something like this in the past, maybe a 5k or played a sport before, perhaps your goal will be to complete the race and maybe to try and do it in a certain time.
Are you already physically fit? Maybe you should have a time to beat and a place you are trying to finish. For example, this last year we had a time to beat and we wanted to finish in the top ten.
What about pictures? It is almost a guarantee something hilarious is going to happen while you run. It would be nice to capture the moment. Apparently there are official photographers for the event, but in the two times we’ve run, they’ve never photographed us so I wouldn’t rely on them.
Get a disposable waterproof camera, a waterproof clamshell for your point n’ shoot/mobile phone or have a friend photograph you. I strongly recommend the last one. They can photograph you before the start, at the start and then walk or run the course in reverse until they find your team.
Be sure to get before and after shots. The Original Mud Run usually has a nice big banner/backdrop on the side of the finish line structure that works great for this purpose.
What about after the race? If you think you placed in the top three, check with a race official. Since they have heats going all day, they do awards throughout the day shortly after the third team finishes for each heat. Don’t forget about your beer and food. Stick around for a while and cheer people in to the finish.
Now I’m back home. Do I just throw away these mud-infused clothes? It is going to be a little work but your clothes are completely salvageable. Here is my three step process: 1. Lay everything out on your driveway or parking lot and spray it with a full-blast hose. Get all the chunks and piles out. Take the insoles out of your boots before you spray them so you have access to all the nooks and crannies. 2. Fill a big bucket with hot water and soak all that stuff. I put Oxyclean in with ours. Amazing how much more dirt comes off right? 3. Assuming nothing feels gritty anymore, I put everything but the boots in the washing machine. I wash them until they smell clean (they will never look completely clean again) and then dry them. This may take two trips through the washing machine. 4. I wash the boots separately from the clothes making sure that the insoles are separate from the boots. Our dryer has a little shelf attachment so I can set the boots in there to dry without them tumbling. I keep the heat on medium to try and prevent any of the boot glue from releasing. When they are mostly dry I take them out to air dry the rest of the way.
Will I ever get all of this dirt off/out of my body? Believe it or not, it will be easier to clean your clothes. Expect to have dirt in your ears and under your toenails even after you shower. It is just one more funny thing to talk about with your teammates when you see them next.
Jason’s Mud Run Checklist
1. Running is the key to a fast time.
2. Run hills or stairs.
3. Upper body and core exercises will help but are secondary.
1. Head – if vision is good then nothing – if vision is bad then disposable contacts
2. Chest – water shedding polyester technical T – Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, etc.
3. Legs – long durable water shedding pants – 100% nylon hiking pants with mesh pockets – maybe a belt – REI Outlet, Gander Mountain, etc.
4. Socks – non-cotton – slightly taller than boots – REI, Black Creek Outfitters, etc.
5. Boots – over the ankle lightweight aggressive lug – Rack Room Shoes, Target, etc.
6. Team Name and logo – screen print it – think about it before you go online to register
7. Sunscreen – waterproof
8. Plastic bag – garbage bag big enough and strong enough to hold your soaking wet gear
9. Change of clothes – everything (underwear, socks, shoes, etc)
10. Two crappy towels – one to dry off with – one to sit on for the ride home.
11. Glasses and eye rinse stuff – after the race toss the contacts, rinse your eyes, wear your glasses
- Give your equipment a test run before the race. Get it wet if you are hardcore.
- Have a training plan that allows you to rest two days before the race.
- Don’t eat high fat or fiber foods the night before the race.
- Have all of your equipment tested and laid out the night before the event.
- Look at results from the previous year to get an idea of where you might finish in your heat.
- Don’t eat once you are within an hour or two of your start time.
- Have your mobile phone with you until you meet your team.
- Meet your team at an off-site location and ride to the race together.
- Slob on your sunscreen.
- Get to the race an hour before the event.
- Drink some water about 30 minutes before you run.
- Line up according to where you think you’ll finish in your heat.
- Have a friend photograph you before, during and after the race.
- This is not a serious event. Remain upbeat and have fun.
- Don’t be afraid to cheer for other teams and help them during the race.
- Drink beer and eat.
- Hose, soak and wash your clothes and boots.
- Tell war stories of the race and prepare for next year.