By Sarah Thompson, DPT, Physical Therapist Rehab Plus Ahwatukee
The month of February in Arizona can only mean one thing: Tough Mudder. For those who are unfamiliar with the Tough Mudder, it is a 10-12 mile course designed to test your endurance and mental toughness by throwing in 20-25 obstacles to tackle along the way. From cliffs to ice to electrical shock, this event truly pushes you to your physical limit. So why on Earth do people do it?!
Obstacle-style races have exploded in popularity over the last several years. The craze behind these races is hard to understand until actually participating in one. The courses, no matter how big or small, challenge you mentally, physically, and, if competing as a team, create a strong sense of camaraderie. Let’s not forget the best part- a cold beer waiting for you at the finish line! But here is a list of things to consider before participating in any of these activities:
- Your current health – The demand of these courses for the average individual is much greater than what we are typically accustomed to. Be prepared for not only a physical but mental challenge. At some point your fears may be tested, overcoming them can give you a great sense of accomplishment. Try to sign up with a team, so that you can help each other through some of the more challenging obstacles. Always check with your doctor to make sure that he or she gives you the ‘okay’ to lace up the sneakers and run.
- Race preparation – Circuit train using upper body and lower body exercises can help to prepare for the obstacles. Integrate exercises such as squats, push-ups, sit-ups, mountain climbers, and pull ups and you should be better prepared physically to overcome the obstacles before you. For running, work to be able to jog at least 3 miles without needing to stop.
- Hydration- Water is the solvent for many of our body’s biological processes and is essential for life. Without it, we would die. Prior to any type of physical activity, make sure you are properly hydrated and have extra water on hand for emergencies. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you are drinking approximately half of your body weight, in ounces, each day (100lb female would drink 50 ounces of water per day). On the day of the event carry salt packets or some form of electrolyte to help you replenish what you have lost, this will help you keep from cramping during the race. These types of races have a lot of stop and go and slow down or go fast aspects. This taxes your body differently than a maintained rhythm of a pure running or cycling race, so cramping can occur. Do not pass an opportunity to rehydrate.
- Injury prevention- Did you know that there is no research to support the belief that stretching prior to activity reduces the risk of injury? A good warm-up, however, is very important as it allows your body to gradually increase its heart rate, increase circulation, and mentally prepare for what lies ahead! Here is a quick link to check out the arguments for and against stretching: http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/flexibility/a/aa022102a.htm
Whether you are a first time runner or a seasoned veteran, make sure to stay safe and have fun! Be sure
to check us out on Facebook @ Rehab Plus Ahwatukee for pictures from the Tough Mudder!