A Girl’s Guide to Getting Dirty

Get your minds out of the gutter people!! This is about running obstacle races in the mud!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I ran a few mud runs last year. This by no means whatsoever makes me any kind of expert on all things mud, barbed wire and tunnel crawls. However, next week I will be running with at least 3 newbies and I’d like them to have some clue as to what to expect. Margaret Schlachter, writer of the award winning blog Dirt in Your Skirt, wrote  a few good posts regarding this topic, including one denouncing cotton. I totally recommend reading it. Actually I totally recommend reading her whole blog, but that might take some time, so until then, read some of them and read this one and  you should be maybe kinda sorta ready for getting dirty.

We are running a ladies only race benefiting the National Breast Cancer Foundation called the Dirty Girl Run. I haven’t run this one yet, but I think it is a fabtabulous idea to get my female friends interested in mud running in a dude-free environment. I am sick an tired of being the only girl on my team and being the only one who has to fight my way out of sopping wet sports bra in the middle of parking lot (more on that later.) So Katie, Kathryn and Allison (and any other mud-run virgins who may be reading this) – I hope you love this sport as much as I do and I hope this little blurb will help you out.

What to wear…

You will get dirty. I don’t really feel like I should even have to say that. It’s like putting a disclaimer on the show 1000 Ways to Die saying that you may die if you try to do what these dead people did.

Not only will you get dirty, but your clothes may get torn. This is especially true of races that include barbed wire but it can also happen climbing over a wall or skidding down a mudslide that ended up having rocks in it. That being said, do NOT where your $150 sneakers or your designer yoga pants unless you don’t mind them getting trashed.

You want to wear comfy clothes that you can really move freely in. You want lightweight or non-absorbent clothing because the last thing you want to do is dive in to a water obstacle and then carry around an extra 10lbs of water in your sweatpants. I personally go for Under Armour HeatGear for warm weather and ColdGear for cold weather. Shorts, capris, pants, tee, tank, bra alone… whatever tickles your pickle. Just remember that you will be flinging your legs up over walls and do what you need to to make sure that you aren’t flashing people in your shorty shorts.

Team shirts or Costumes are more than cool. But just remember that they will be messed up and if you have to go with cotton tees or tanks, get lightweight stuff.

You also want a good sports bra. Even people like me who only have cleavage thanks to the engineers at Victoria’s Secret will be much more comfortable in a good supportive bra. I suggest one with clasps as opposed to a pullover one. Why? Because once you are caked in mud and then rinsed off (a little bit) with the cold water from the fire trucks/makeshift showers/Pelham Bay it may just take contortionist-like abilities to get back out of that thing. I didn’t hurt myself at all running the Spartan Sprint, but nearly pulled my shoulder out its socket trying to get out of bra. Not cool.

…On your feet.

If you are going to be running one mud race and call it quits for the year, your regular sneakers will be ok. I warn you that you will run into traction problems. Not only are you running in slippery mud, but you may also be running across areas of loose dirt/gravel/grass/etc that your day-to-day kicks will not know what to do with.  Trail running shoes are a much better and option and the closer to cleats  that they are the better (no actual cleats though- most races ban these because you might step on someone else’s foot/hand/sensitive bit on the way over a cargo net and cause some serious damage.) My choice in these endeavors- Adidas Kanadia TR4s. I love them so much I have 2 pairs.

I’ll take these over a pair Jimmy Choos any day.

Insane tread that grips without getting clogged up with dirty. I’ve never lost traction. Awesome air circulation. They don’t hold water. They stay on. That is really important because there will be a high likelihood of the mud actually sucking the shoes off your feet. A lot of people will recommend duct taping your sneakers on.

What else to bring (and leave in the car*)

Towel

Change of clothes. I suppose you could also just put a tarp down in your car to cover your seats. But if you are coming in my car change your clothes. Chef Hubby and I just invested in an inexpensive pop-up tent to use as a changing room in the parking lot. There may or may not be changing areas in these venues and even if there are,  lines will be insane.

Cash for extra beer, food, drinks and/or souvenirs of the coolest thing you’ve ever done.

Camera. Only because you are going to want to document your before and after. Unless you have a water and impact proof camera, leave it in the car. It will not survive otherwise.

Some kind of container to put your muddy stuff in. Chef Hubby and I provide a big old plastic tub for our teammates to put all their stuff in.

Sometimes I’m even nice and wash it all, too. Sometimes they can rinse out their own muddy underpants.

*I do not trust the bag check tents at these events. I’ve heard too many people on those lines trying to reclaim stuff that isn’t there.

What to eat

Most athletes will recommend a high protein high carb meal a few hours prior to the run. Oatmeal and bananas seem to be the most popular. Do not eat nasty greasy McDonald’s. Trust me.

Hydrate like crazy the day before the race. And that morning. But do your bladder a favor and don’t chug back a Big Gulp right before. There are no potty-breaks.

There may be aid stations along the run. Take a small drink if you need one. Do not drink a giant cup of water unless absolutely necessary because it can cause you to cramp up or just feel nasty as it shloshes around for the rest of the run.

Umm… Other Info

<<Warning: This may be TMI or just plain gross but it is important!>>

If you happen to be a menstrual-case for race-day do not use a pad. This may be common sense but I’ve heard of some woman not realizing the implications of having an absorbant hunk of cotton against infection sensitive regions.

Tampons are better, but you still have the problem of an absorbent sting wicking muddy, funky water of unknown origins right on up to those aforementioned sensitive regions. I haven’t done this, but it has been suggested to cut the string down so that there is enough for you to grab on to but less for the water to get to.

Personally, I have switched to using Instead SoftCups. I will be posting a little more about this in the future, but for now, I’ll say that they are disposable menstrual cups. They are much easier to use than you think they are. It took a couple days to get used to the idea, but I don’t think I could go back to anything else now.

That’s all I can think of for now. I may add more as I remember other stuff.

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