What does it take to do a mud run?
BY CHAD HUNTER For Sun-Times Media August 14, 2013 4:30PM
Merrell Down and Dirty Mud Run LA presented by Subaru
Two to try
Ready to get down and dirty? The Eat Dirt Mud Run, a 5K obstacle course, will take place Sept. 28 in South Barrington. The course will include a 60-foot mud slide, tunnel crawls, slippery hill climbs and more. To sign up, visit eatdirtmudrun.com. And for city dwellers, the Men’s Health Urbanathlon returns Oct. 19. The competition, which uses our city’s landmarks and urban obstacles (jumping taxicabs in years past, for example), kicks off at Soldier Field. For more information, visit menshealthurbanathlon.com.
Updated: August 19, 2013 9:07AM
For some, running just isn’t enough anymore. They want more, and don’t mind getting dirty — make that grimy from head to toe — for that satisfaction. Enter the mud run. Mud runs take participants on obstacles courses — climbing walls of cargo net, swinging over pits of fire, crawling under barbed wire and much more — all on muddy and wet terrain. They’re designed to challenge endurance and strength.
Their popularity has exploded in the Chicago area — several more popped up here this running season — mud runs still give the undecided fitness buff pause. For the unsoiled and unconvinced, several questions come to mind, the biggest of which is how to prepare so you avoid injury.
Mud run prep calls for a focused body and mind. “Strong core work would be necessary with the demands of landing, jumping on uneven terrain, in addition to pull-ups and pushups,” says George Chiampas, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He recommends including intervals of speed training to get ready.
They’re not just for the seasoned athlete, either. “I think mud runs can be safe for both seasoned athletes and recreational ‘weekend warriors,’ as long as both types of participants train appropriately,” says Dr. Jeffrey Mjaanes, sports medicine physician at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush Medical Center. “They often motivate participants, especially first-timers, into getting in shape and starting an exercise plan with a specific training goal in mind.”
Like any competition, mud runs are not without risks. “Fortunately, the most common issues in these races are minor cuts; abrasions (scratches), contusions (bruises) and muscle strains,” says Mjaanes
The challenge of it all is what makes them so appealing to Chicago brothers Aaron and Brian Tabor. “Sometimes each mile and obstacle is the most brutal thing I’ve experienced,” says Aaron, a medical student. “But each one pushes me to reach peak physical and mental potential and go beyond what seems possible in that moment.”
Brian Tabor, who served with the 173rd Airborne, follows a specific regimen to compete, one that includes weight-lifting, biking and high-tension band training.
“In the end I believe the best training is psyching yourself mentally to push through the pain mile after mile,” he says. “It’s when you are at your weakest point that your true strength shows.”
Chad Hunter is a local freelance writer.