Prepping for a Mud Run!

There has been a tremendous wave in popularity of outdoor obstacle course races over the last several years.

Races like The Dirty Dash, The Tough Mudder and Spartan Race bring much more challenge and variety than what you would find in traditional courses that involve only running. These races can also include climbing over walls, crawling through tubes, trudging through mud, swinging over bodies of water with gymnastic rings – pretty much anything and everything is fair game. This, of course, adds to the allure of the event.

But because of the variety, preparing for these events can be a challenge. Participants need to bring high levels of strength, power and endurance to finish successfully – particularly when you consider the majority of us are not professional athletes.

But the good news is you don’t have to be. With adequate training, preparation and time, anyone can get a taste of the glory – including you!

But the first obstacle to overcome is deciding to do it. Whether the race is three months away or a year, just go for it. Also, recruit your friends while you’re at it. Many of these events require teamwork, and having a few of your best partners in crime to train with will only add more enjoyment and consistency to your training.

So now that you’re all in, here is a weekly outline of how to get ready for the big event. This program is designed with the assumption that you have already built a foundation of strength and cardiovascular endurance. If you are just beginning with a fitness program, you should follow a general strength and conditioning program for at least 3 to 6 months before progressing. Also, we all have individual differences and levels of fitness, and the following training program may be modified in any way that better suits your needs.


We’ll begin our weekly workout here since this one will place the most demand and intensity on the muscles and should be done when we are fully recovered. Begin with a dynamic warmup 10-15 minutes in length. Then perform the following circuits for 3 sets each:

Power Circuit

• Squat Jumps x 10 reps

• Medicine Ball Slams* x 10 reps

• Split Jumps x 10 reps per leg

• Wall Ball* x 10 reps

* Use Medicine Ball that is 5-10 percent of your body weight.

Strength Circuit:

• Push-ups x 8-12 reps

• Dumbbell lunges x 8-12 reps per leg

• Pull-ups x 8-12 reps (Assisted/resisted if needed)

• Single Leg Deadlifts x 8-12 reps per leg

Refer to video link for details.


Since a good chunk of these events still involve running, it makes sense to include a day strictly for running. But I got news for you: The course isn’t going to be flat. Pick a hilly trail run of your choice and go at a steady pace. Distance should be based on whatever course you’ll be participating on. For example, the Tough Mudder is 10-12 miles. So begin your first week doing about a 5-6-mile run, then add one mile each week leading up to the event. You may start with shorter or longer distances depending on your current fitness level.


A hybrid workout is simply one that incorporates all the elements of fitness into one circuit, specifically exercises that will challenge strength, endurance, power and core. Because of the nature of an obstacle course race, this style of workout will most closely mimic the demands the body will need to be ready for and help condition you for anything that is brought your way. Perform each exercise for 1 minute with minimal rest in between. Recover 1-2 minutes after completing all eight exercises. Complete 3-5 sets total depending on your fitness level.

• Renegade Rows

• Quick Feet

• Lunge with Overhead Press

• Horizontal Jumps

• Single Leg Squats (30 seconds per leg)

• Mountain Climbers

• Rope Pulls

• Iceskaters

Refer to video link for details.


This day should be strictly for recovery. Any combination of restoration should be used. This may include foam rolling, massage, restorative yoga, flexibility or hydrotherapy, basically any method that personally gives you the best recovery.


This workout is similar to our first workout except you will be combining a distance run with a strength circuit used intermittently throughout. Begin by running at a steady pace, then perform a strength circuit at the end of each mile. You can utilize body weight exercises or take a portable training tool like a resistance band or TRX Trainer with you as you go. Preferably this should be done on a trail run, but this can also be used on a track as well. Below is a sample resistance band/body weight circuit. Perform 15-20 repetitions each. Repeat the sequence for 3-5 miles total.

• Resistance Band Squat Rows

• Pushups

• Resistance Band Rotations

• Alternating Lunges

• Resistance Band Presses

Refer to video link for details.


This will be the lightest workout of the week. Your goal is to train at a lower heart rate with minimal to no impact. Go for an easy bike ride or use the stair stepper or elliptical. Keep your heart rate around 50-60 percent of your maximum. Workout time should be 60-90 minutes total.


Here you have the option of simply taking the day off or using any of the active recovery methods mentioned on Thursday. The goal is to recharge and get ready to hit it again come Monday.

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