So you want to do the Mud Run! Whether you are a beginning runner or have some experience running conditioning or training will be the same. The goal is to prepare your body to perform at an optimal level and prevent injury.
There are several things to know as you start. Progression is important. You don’t want to have drastic increases in your workload. Usually the rule of thumb is to increase your intensity by 10% at a time. Have a plan which includes running and strength training.
For runners in general, it is recommended to have 1-2 days of general strength training per week targeting upper body, lower body, and core.
Avoid over training
You can do too much. It is important to take a day off and to have easier days where your intensity is not as great to allow your body to recover and get stronger. Keep an eye on your heart rate. The average resting heart rate (HR) is 60-80 BPM (beats per minute).
You calculate your maximum HR by subtracting your age from 220. Your target heart zone, or appropriate exercising HR, should be somewhere between 50-85% of your max.
Make sure you have the right equipment
Footwear is important as well. Insure that your shoes fit properly. Shoes that do not fit properly, too tight or too lose, may create friction and result in blisters which can interfere with your conditioning. Blisters are not only painful, but if not treated properly can become infected and really cramp your style.
Friction can occur in other places as well. Strategically placed skin lube can help avoid chaffing and allow you to condition more effectively.
Proper running form is a great way to prevent injury and increase performance. The ideal running form is head straight and looking ahead, arms swinging at the shoulders with the elbow bent at 90 degrees. Avoid crossing your arms in front of you. The knee should be bent slightly upon impact, which allows for absorption of energy on impact. Feet should be pointed straight ahead with the upper body slightly leaning forward at the waist.
Warm up properly before you exercise. A good dynamic warm up prior to exercise includes exercises such as high knees, walking lunges, butt kicks, and arm circles. Static stretching is best done after the session when the muscles are nice and warm.
Eat Well and Hydrate
Diet is vital to performance. Carbohydrates are a great source of energy.
They are broken down into simple sugars to be used as fuel. The unused portion is stored as glycogen and will be used for anaerobic activities such as sprinting and weightlifting. When glycogen stores are full carbs are stored as fat. Fat has the highest concentration of energy; 1 gram of fat = 9 calories of energy. Understanding how to access these resources is important.
Fat is broken down and released slowly during endurance activities such as distance running, biking, or triathlons. Proteins are found in meats, fish, nuts, and eggs. They are broken down into amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle. Protein aids in the building and repair of fatigued or injured muscles. Ideally, the athlete should eat 3 balanced meals per day with 1-2 healthy snacks.
Hydration is also crucial in conditioning in all seasons, but especially during warmer weather. The athlete is encouraged to hydrate prior to, during and after exercise. If you are exercising for less than 60 minutes water is the ideal beverage. For activities longer than an hour a combination of water and an electrolyte beverage such as PowerAde is recommended.
Many athletes are concerned about recovery post workout. Following exercise the athlete is encouraged to consume fluids for rehydration, approximately 20-24 oz. of fluid per pound of weight lost. Food is also important. Both protein and carbs are vital. They should be in a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. There are many products available, but studies have shown the best recovery drink is chocolate milk.
Now, get out there and get going.
Hopefully by understanding how your body works and by following the guidelines you can maximize your training and have a great race.