This weekend may prove to be the dirtiest, most fatiguing, most fun and most rewarding time that you’ve had since your were a kid at summer camp.  More importantly, this weekend’s event is for a great cause to help others who need our support.

This Saturday is the 3rd annual National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Mud Run here in Jacksonville.

I’ve run in the past two Mud Runs here in Jacksonville, finishing in 2nd place in last year’s individual division.  I’m thrilled to be crawling in the mud again this weekend to raise both money and awareness for this chronically disabling disease.

A Mud Run is unlike any race that I’ve had the pleasure to compete in.  As an athletic trainer, physical therapist and an endurance athlete, I’ve learned a few tricks that I want to share with my fellow racers.

To help my readers to have a successful Mud Run and a healthy finish, I’ve put together my sports medicine tips to share with you.

Race Day “To Do’s”

Breath – The “butterflies” in your stomach will wake up before you will.  Breath and relax.  It’s time to get the calories and fluids in you as you double check your racing supplies.

Carbs are Your Friend – Push the carbs because they are the best source of fuel to get you through today’s race.  Toast, bagels, whole-grain cereals, non-citrus fruits and pasta are all smart options.  Today is not the day to try any new foods or drinks, even if that guy at the gym “swears that it’ll make you run like the wind”!

Drink Early & Often – It’s going to be hot so you will need fluids early & often.  A smart plan which I recommend to our professional football players is:

  • Consistently drinking 50% water / 50% sports drink before, during and after the race will keep you fast and safe.

Grease Up – Blisters can quickly make the race seem twice as long.  Your feet will be WET so plan on it.  A generous coating of Vaseline or petroleum jelly on toes, heels, ankles, inner thighs and anywhere you may experience chaffing will help improve your comfort level during the race.

Don’t Be a Sponge – You will be spending a lot of time in the mud and water on Saturday so avoid bring it home with you.  What you wear is the key.  Wearing thin socks, water-friendly boots, non-cotton pants, and DryFit-type shirts can literally save you from carrying an extra 4-5 lbs for the 6 mile race!

Lighter Attitude – While you lighten up the weight of your clothing do the same with your attitude.  Having fun, interacting with your fellow racers and expressing gratitude towards the race volunteers will make your Mud Run a wonderful experience.

Recovering From the Mud Run

Your recovery starts the minute you cross the finish line.  Here are a few tips to help you avoid complications and to feel like a champ quickly.

It’s Happy Hour – Sure, you just consumed more muddy water than you care to think about but getting clean fluids in you is very important.   Using the “50/50 Rule” noted earlier, will safely replenish your fluids, calories and the ever-important electrolytes.  Heat Illness is always a concern and the 50/50 Rule is your best defense for all strenuous activities.

Push the Carbs – Carbohydrates have gotten a bad wrap in the weight-loss world but after any hard race or cardio workout, they are your best friend.

Walk it Out – When you finish the race, the sudden urge to flop on the ground will be strong.  To allow your body time to properly cool down, 10 minutes of walking and rehydrate is the smart thing to do before you get off your feet in the shade to reflect upon your amazing accomplishment.

Dry & Clean – Getting your feet dry as soon as possible will help you avoid complications that can happen with wet and dirty feet.  Any cuts, blisters or abrasions should be cleaned thoroughly for obvious reasons.

Massage and Stretch – Get your legs, feet and hips massaged and/or stretched as soon as possible will help minimize the post-race soreness and discomfort associated with any difficult physical endeavor.

Ice and Compression Sure ICE hurts but it’s a needed tool if you’re training and racing hard.  If your legs hurt, ICE them for 15 minutes and follow up with a compression sleeve when you’re walking or running for the next few days.  This is a great way to control extremity edema and accelerate your recovery.

I hope these sports medicine tips from Mike Ryan Fitness help you to have a fun and safe Mud Run with a fast recovery.  Stay Healthy & Happy!