Mike Ryan, Mud Run Winner

This past weekend’s big local mud run is the talk of the town.  With thousands of participants and so many wonderful stories involving the event, the MS MuckRuckus was a huge success.

I was fortunate enough to win this year’s Competitive Male race.  I’d finished in 2nd place the last two years, so the 3rd time surely was “the charm.” Watching the backside of the guy in front of me finish the victor the last two years was a real bummer.  I have to admit: the final 100 yards as the winner sure was a rush.

Be it my age (49) or my busy schedule (2 children under 4, married, work in the NFL & having a life), everyone seems to ask the same question: “How did YOU win the race?”  Amused and entertained by the inquiries, I decided to break my silence and have some fun with the topic….

Secret Tips to Win a Mud Run

1.  Fake It Til You Make It – As I squeezed my way to the front of the lead pack of Alpha Dogs in the starting corral before the race, I quickly noticed two things.  All the guys were 1/2 my age and none (0) of them were wearing shirts.  Sporting my new sleeveless Under Armour running shirt with my massive biceps glistening in the sun, I asked confidently: “Hey man, is it legal to be wearing a shirt?!”  A couple of guys thought I was serious and tried to reassure me that I would not be kicked out of the race.  We all laughed, I firmly shook hands, looked them in the eyes wishing each of them a “safe race – but not a fast race”.  I was confident and they knew it.

2.  Professional Humiliation – Two days before the race I was meeting with one of my bosses with the Jacksonville Jaguars.  When asked about the race and how I would do, I gave my standard “I feel great and I’ll give it everything I have”. I explained that I had finished in 2nd place the last two-year.  I was told firmly: “You better take it up a notch, Ryan!”

When Gabe Andrews and I were battling it out in the woods and mud, I was fading.  As the strong 23-year-old was putting a serious hurting on me by pushing the pace hard, I could hear the message loud and clear: “You better take it up a notch, Ryan!”  When faced with the risk of professional humiliation by someone farther up the professional food chain, suddenly the pain in my legs and lungs seems much less concerning!

3.  Humor & Humble the Competition – About 4 miles into the race, Young Gabe and I came upon “The Scooch”.  Appropriately named, the 12″ diameter plastic pipes had to be mounted like a horse saddle and we scooched along the 30 foot piping in a funky kind of manner.  After jumping off the first piping and feeling kind of violated, we had to straddle the next set of taint-haters.  Trying to fake that I wasn’t tired, I joked with Gabe “the ladies will like this one much more than we will”.  He laughed and suddenly slowed down.  I took advantage by quickly jumping off the end of the cruel toy and put in a hard sprint of about 80% effort.  I opened a 30 yard lead before the next obstacle.  Gabe never regained the lead.

4.  Bring Your Heart – Ten years ago this June, my best friend Rod Chaplin passed away training for the Long-Course Triathlon World Championships to be held in Nice, France.  Born and raised in South Africa, he was one of the nicest AND toughest human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.  Since his death, I alway race with his small South Africa flag which his widow gave to me to carry on his passion for fellowship through fitness.  Whenever the tendency to feel sorry for myself starts to whisper in my ear during a race, I slap his flag, I think of Rod and I remind myself how lucky I am be exactly where I am right now!

5.  Be Comfortable Doing What Others Don’t Like to Do – No one likes to crawl in mud, dunk under dark brown dirty water or get mud pushed up your nose.  That’s why I love doing it.  A great mudder once told me that he attacks the obstacles.  He doesn’t just ease into or out of the obstacles, he attacks them.  That’s the approach I use and it saves me precious time.  If I trim off an extra 2 seconds in every obstacle by being excited to dive into the mud hole or race up the cargo net, I’m putting myself minutes ahead of the timid dude trying to keep his face clean.

BONUS TIP:  If all else fails…..simply run, crawl, run, climb, run, roll and run faster than everyone else!  How hard can that be?

The Many Wins to Follow

Like I told my friend last night at dinner, I’m not sure if I’ll ever win another big race again.  I’m grateful to be able to be involved in wonderful events like the MS MuckRuckus.  Being active and healthy is a gift that I give thanks for each and every day.  With MikeRyanFitness.com and my exciting profession as an Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist in the NFL, I want to give others the opportunity to decrease their pain, enhance their health and improve their lives.  When that happens, each one of those individuals becomes a better wife, a better friend, a happier brother, a more loving mother, a more productive co-worker, etc.  In other words, everyone wins when the health of others is enhanced.

Those are the type of wins that I’m looking for!  

Will you help me share my dream with others? Please share with your Facebook friends, Tweet or Google+ so everyone can benefit from good health.