Try Out a Mud Run This Fall

RunningInRainWith the booming mud run craze, it’s easy to see why many runners have changed out their standard 5K “run around the park” to mud runs complete with obstacle courses. They make you feel like a kid again and give you the perfect excuse to get dirty and burn calories at the same time. Here are a few tips to know before you click on that registration button:

Bring your friends. Often mud runs allow for team events–this is a great way to bond with others and even bring co-workers for some fun team building event.

Buy tight clothing at a discount store. Because of the level of muddiness you will incur, you probably don’t want to wear your nice, expensive running outfit. Save the apparel you buy from First to the Finish for your training runs and regular races. You don’t want to ruin those clothes! You’ll end up so dirty you’ll probably just want to toss out what you have rather than bring it home and ruin your washer and dryer.

Volunteer at an event first. Because most know little about mud runs until they actually do one, you can acquaint yourself with the race by volunteering. It’s actually a very smart way to acclimate yourself to race conditions and lend a helping hand in the process.

Train. Although a mud run sounds like something you’d do “just for fun,” it still requires you complete the full mileage–along with plenty of obstacles to boot. Some mud races require you scale walls, jump over hurdles and practically swim through mud under low-hanging wire. It’s actually HARDER than a standard 5K.

Don’t worry about time. Because of the difficulty of the obstacles, you really need to go at your own pace and not care about your competition.

Try adding one of these to your autumn schedule. Whether you’re in high school or you’ve been running for decades, anyone can enjoy a mud run. Who doesn’t love to play in the mud?


Change Up Your Running

imagesIt’s finally fall. It is a cloudy day today and I feel like I’ve entered into my favorite season after a rather long summer. Football is on TV and I am drinking pumpkin spice lattes.

At this time of year, I try to shake up my running to keep my body energized after coming from a hot summer where I got worn out from even trying to run short distances. Here are some workouts to try if you feel the same need.

1. Speed training on the treadmill. With the weather turning a bit sour in many parts of the country, perhaps you need to take your running indoors. Here is a FARTLEK:

5 mins: Warm up
3 mins: Tempo; 2 mins easy x 4
5 mins: Cool down

This makes a total of 30 minutes, which isn’t too long on a treadmill. You can cover a few miles if you push your body hard enough.

2. Outdoor hill training. As the leaves change, I try to find hills with lots of fallen leaves to give me something pretty to enjoy as I run. Try to find a hill that climbs approximately a mile or longer. You’ll run a mile on it and then turn around and go back down. It’s best to have a Garmin for this workout, as going up hill will slow you down, so it’s hard to gauge your speed versus distance.

5 mins: Warm up on flat ground
1 mile up hill. You can speed walk if necessary.
1 mile sprint down. Go easy if this hurts the knees.
1 mile up hill.
1 mile down.
5 mins recovery on flat ground. You can walk if you need.

You’ll hit about 4.5 miles on this workout and really shock your body. Your heart rate should rise pretty high. Don’t push going up hill too hard. Save that for the down hills.

3. Track training. Most high schools are now back in session, so they open up the tracks at night.

800 meters warm up
2 miles going faster every 400 meters.
400 meter cool down.

You’ll really need to pace yourself to be able to pick up every lap.

Happy fall training! Enjoy the shorter days before they become even shorter!

Trying Out New Running Methods

Goodshoot 1I once interviewed a very famous, world champion endurance athlete on techniques he’s learned over the years. He told me something that really stuck: In training, he’d eat a big bowl of nachos with cheese and other excessively evil foods just before a long run. Naturally, he’d vomit during the run and his stomach would shut down. However, this taught him to keep going even in the worst of pain. That way, come race day, when he’d eventually start to bonk, he’d have trained his body well to handle any kind of disgusting pain and could always make it to the finish line.

While I haven’t trained to this extreme, my thoughts do run (excuse the pun) to this interview when I’ve had maybe one too many fries before a long run and I suffer gastrointestinal distress. I think it’s important to shake up the running routine and try something new every so often. Here are a few techniques I like to take:

I do a race that isn’t timed. Many female-only mud runs are making their way to cities near you, and they’ve done away with timing. It’s nice to take my time in a race and not worry about what my Garmin says. I just hang out with my girlfriends and take the opportunity to really enjoy running without caring about the finish clock. If we hang out a little long at a particular obstacle, that means we get to spend a few extra minutes together.

I run at night. I run best during mid-day when I’m a little more awake than just after I roll out of bed with no caffeine… or just after work when I need some time to digest the day. Mid-day seems to be when I’m most alive. But I shake it up and run after 8 p.m. to shock my body. I don’t think my body appreciates the shocking and neither does my alarm clock, as  I hit snooze a few extra times (running at night invigorates my blood so I don’t fall asleep easily). But I feel like it makes it harder, and harder is always a good thing. That means I’m not falling into a running rut.

I run my entire time up a hill. Near my house is a long, treacherous four-mile hill. It’s ugly. It’s brutal. Bikers curse it; runners’ legs scream at it. But we all make our way up it no matter what the pain. It makes my legs stronger and more appreciate of flat roads.

Try out something new and see what happens!

Runner’s Knee: What is It?

ankle sprain, pain


No doubt you’ve experienced a number of running-induced pains. From back pain to leg cramps to fasciitis, most of us can ramble on the ailments we’ve dealt with by participating in this sport. This post focuses on runner’s knee. I’ve heard about it, but don’t know much about it so did some research.

What is runner’s knee? 

It is pain that you feel around and under the knee cap, which occurs because the knee cap isn’t properly moving in the correct place. Because you need your knees to run, continuing on with this pain can only make things worse over time.

What can you do to avoid it? 

1. Weightlifting is the best way to proactively avoid runner’s knee. Building up the muscles around the knee cap will help it hold in place. You should work on the quadriceps, especially the inside quad muscles. People with pain tend to run abnormally, which causes weak quads. Also, work out your IT band.

Once or twice per week, focus your weightlifting routine on legs.

Do monster squats. To complete a monster squat, hold a barbell over your shoulders and squat all the way down. It’ll be tough to come back up from this position so make sure the barbell isn’t too heavy or you risk improper form. Also add in the leg press. Start pressing with a closer foot position and move to a farther foot position to work your inner and outer thighs.

IT Band:
Lie on your side on your floor. Bend the knee of the bottom leg while keeping the upper leg straight. Lift the upper leg again, isolating motion to the hip. Do these leg raises 10 times for 2-3 reps.

2. Watching how you bend your knee. Stand in front of a mirror and do a single leg squat. If your pelvis drops to the opposite side, you could be straining your knee. This can be improved by simply being aware of it and running with your hips in line and focusing on not allowing one of your hips to drop below the other. Running square will keep your hips aligned and in turn, your knees aligned.

Hopefully you can avoid this painful problem with these easy steps.