by Garrett Iván Colón
Students often desire to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and for many, that includes dreaded, time-consuming workouts. While certain individuals have ample competence and motivation to reach the goals they set, many others seek additional support.
The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that participating in group exercise may help overcome the obstacle of time constraints, which is one of the reasons why many individuals simply give up on working out. In college, time management is an ongoing struggle for students. Finding the time to work-out can be challenging and a key factor in an individual’s success (even if that means setting the alarm clock an hour early, slightly extending your day, or substituting other free-time activities).
So, when you finally decide to gather a few friends to test your abilities, you may often find yourself wondering what opportunities there are for you and your active amigos to get fit, and have fun doing so.
Considering the increasing popularity of mud runs, there’s no better time to gear up for a group challenge, alongside your workout buddies. Mud runs are challenging military boot camp-esque obstacle courses comprised of, well, mud—and lots of it. With various races in existence (Warrior Dash, American Mud Race, Tough Mudder, Savage Race, and Survivor Mud Run, among many others), each one offers a distinct experience with certain obstacles that are unique to the respective theme of the event. Participants run across turbulent terrain and swim through a variety of mud pits and ponds, climb up ropes, over walls and mud mountains, through dirt trenches, and so forth. The great part about these equally exhilarating and exhausting mud races is that you have the option to formulate a “team” during the registration process. As such, you and your group have the opportunity to create a team name and represent yourselves (with pride, of course).
The above image is a course map of just one of the many mud runs in existence today. Most race organizations will make an effort to provide participants with a detailed map of their “battlefield” to show precise locations for each respective obstacle, oftentimes providing descriptions of the obstacles as well. Though they are certainly beneficial, and while many runners make use of these course maps prior to their event, I avoid looking at them (nobody wants a spoiled surprise)!
You and your friends will crawl underneath sheets of barbed wire, leap your way through a hundred-or-so truck tires, then climb over walls of wood, rope, and even a pile of crushed cars, if you’re lucky. You’ll find yourselves in a battle for your shoes, and it’s the thickening mud pile versus you. As you climb your way over stacks of hay, you’ll ultimately finish with a refreshing water slide, sending you and your friends directly into a pool of water. Then, it’s finish line time (but not before you hurdle over a pile of fire-coated rocks)! These courses are certain to challenge you, in every way. Be prepared for an ultimate test of your own personal strength, stamina, endurance, and physical resilience.
An upside to many of the mud run events is that pre-planning is made simple. Race schedules are devised anywhere from one to two years in advance, which allows for participants to register early with enough time to train. It might not be graduation or your wedding day, though I can assure you that it’s a major daylong event to look forward to. Many of the organizations that curate these obstacle courses initiate nationwide tours. You and your friends have the option to await the race, near home, or even plan a road trip for the event (which amplifies the overall experience). MudRunFun.com is a website that offers a yearly mud run calendar by state. The site allows for users to register for any event of their choice and also provides various race photos, maps, a blog, and even “promocodes” to save you a few mud dollars. These events almost always take place on Saturday’s and/or Sunday’s and are of a fair price. Many event organizations even offer college student registration discounts. Groupon and Living Social frequently offer discounted registrations. Wave times are flexible, and available time frame options generally span over the majority of the day, sending off packs of participants every 15-30 minutes. Distance is dependent upon the race that you choose. Typically, runs range between three and nine miles, in length. As you would expect, the more miles you decide to run, the more obstacles you’ll encounter!
All of these events offer fun post-race activities for you and your teammates to bask in all of your warrior glory. Oftentimes, there will be live performances and DJ’s to keep the party going throughout the duration of each event. Various vendors and food trucks are also available to participants and spectators. Follow-up your run with a game of cornhole and grab some event-specific “swag” (shirts, jerseys, hats, stickers and such). Don’t forget to grab your well-deserved finisher medal. Most of the race organizations supply participants with a shirt and medal, to commemorate your experience on the “battlefield.” While there are competitions held during each race, the majority of the participants are simply there for a good time.
Mud runs are only one way to test your limits with your workout group. As you and your partners progress continue to challenge yourselves and break new boundaries. Keep things interesting by switching up routines, exercises, and plans, as well as by finding new and exciting events to dominate. The opportunities are limitless.
Stay focused. Get others involved. Train hard. Have fun!