The Dirty Side of Mud Running
With the rainy season rapidly approaching, some of the local trails have become one big mud fest. During runs right after a heavy rain, it's possible to slip into some deep, thick mud, making for an interesting and challenging romp. While mud running can be fun, it can be a little dangerous as well. Here's a few tips to consider:Obviously mud is slippery, therefore your risk of sliding down a hill increase. Always make sure the tread on your shoes has not worn down and you have some kind of traction. Whether it be on the dry trail or in the mud, a shoe with a worn down bottom is always risky.
Since you sink in to mud, it is very easy to plant your foot and possibly get it stuck. If this happens mid stride, you run the risk of twisting or pulling something since your foot is staying in a fixed position while the rest of your body continues to move. The best way to prepare for this is to pay attention to where your foot is landing and steer clear of obvious deep mud puddles. If you encounter deeper mud sections, slow down to a walk to reduce your risk of injury.
Obviously mud is made with water, therefore can get your feet wet if stepped in. If you run in a cold climate, this can be dangerous as running with wet feet can lower your body temperature, possibly leading to hypothermia. To prepare for this, it's a good idea to take along another pair of dry socks if you find yourself splashing too much.
Another thing to consider is how much heavier shoes become once they are clumped with mud. Although most trails shoes have an aggressive grip, it doesn't matter when the mud is thick and sticky. That mud is going to stick regardless of the tread and that shoe is going to weigh about three times it's normal weight. While there are really no precautions for this, just keep in mind that your run might be a little more difficult because of the added weight.
With the popularity of mud runs lately, this style of running certainly isn't new. In fact, many people enjoy mud running since it breaks their routine and becomes a little more challenging. So, after a rain, it's still okay to get out there and get dirty, just be sure to follow some simple precautions and be careful!
Emily Cebulski is a long time endurance runner, veteran marathoner and freelance writer living in San Diego, CA. Check out her blog at http://trailmama.wordpress.com/
Published: Nov 16, 2011