You’re caked with mud, dripping with sweat and surrounded by some of your best girlfriends. No, you’re not at a luxury spa getting a mud facial and sweating out toxins. Instead, you’re part of the growing number of women – which jumped from 33,600 in 2011 to 130,000 in 2012 – who are diving into mud runs.
We lived to tell the tale – and to encourage other women to take on the same adventure. Not sure if a mud run is for you? Here are five reasons every woman should try the experience at least once.
1. IT WILL PUSH YOU OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a hard-core athlete or – as my sister screamed to one of the Mud Run volunteers – you usually only do this in video games. A Mud Run is different than any other race out there. You’re not just running; you’re climbing rope walls, swimming through mud pits and doing plenty of bear crawls under nets … up hill … while being pelted with water from fire hoses.
Mud runs are definitely not for the faint of heart so if you have any pre-existing or past medical problems you should probably talk with your doctor before signing up. But for the woman who’s getting tired of the gym or just wants a new story to share during girls’ night, a mud run could be just the adventure you need.
2. YOU’LL SCORE SOME AMAZING PHOTOS … AND EVEN MORE AMAZING MEMORIES.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Pics or it didn’t happen.” Well, I’m proof that you can take photographs and kick mud run booty at the same time. If you want to take pictures during the actual race, try bringing an old, waterproof disposable camera. While most of our shots didn’t come out, a few prize moments did.
Not to mention that if your mud run event is anything like The World’s Best Mud Run, you get more than just an obstacle course when you buy a ticket. There can also be plenty of booths – with food and other products – and lots of photographing opportunities. I definitely recommend waiting in line to get a before and after photo. It’s hard to forget you ever wore what could effectively be called a “mud suit” – but photos make sure you don’t!
3. YOU’LL BOND WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
If you do sign up for a mud run, definitely try to drag some friends or family members along. My trio looked a bit odd at first glance: one veteran Marine, one decently athletic college junior (also known as me) and one little sister who usually prefers computers to sneakers. But having someone to keep me company while we waited for the race to start and helped clean up afterwards made the experience even better!
When choosing your partners in crime – correction: partners in mud and grime – keep a few criteria in mind. If you can, try to bring people with similar athletic experience to your own. This way, no one will be bummed by having to wait for a straggler or being left behind. Also, make sure you have the same goals in mind. If one person wants to win first place and you’d rather jog and enjoy the scenery … let’s just say neither of you will get what you want.
4. YOU CAN MAKE IT AS HARD OR FUN-FILLED AS YOU WANT.
Speaking of goals, the best part about a mud run, in my opinion, is that you can decide how hard you want to make it. Obviously, you can sign up for courses of different levels of difficulty like a 5K versus a 10K. But you can also decide if you’re running for time or for fun.
At my mud run, it was easy to tell which teams were doing what. The fun teams rocked costumes of all types – from bright tutus to superhero tights and shirts – while the more competitive teams looked as serious as their high tech running gear.
Mud runs don’t have to be scary. You can jog at the back of the racing crowd, take the obstacles slow and just enjoy getting down and dirty with friends. The choice is yours.
5. BY THE END, YOU’LL BE AMAZED AT WHAT YOU CAN DO.
But whether you run the course for time or for laughs, you’ll amaze yourself by the end. In my case, I learned that, nearly a year after pulling my IT band on a run, I could complete a 5K with only minimal discomfort. As for my sister, she was sore for days after, but proud for doing it.
Completing a mud run is about more than checking “workout” off your weekend’s to-do list. It’s daring to try something new. It’s feeling like you’re a part of something bigger. And it’s savoring the surprises – from ninja climbing abilities to being hosed off by volunteers dressed like cowboys – that emerge along the way.
At least for me, a mud run was a way to prove to myself that I am strong, adventurous and one of the #WomenThatDo. Maybe a mud run could do the same for you.