Mud Run Training Program for Beginners

Mud Runs and obstacle races have been gaining popularity all over the world, and are a great way to keep fit whilst having plenty of fun. Unlike most other running type events, mud runs and obstacles races are all about teamwork, adventure, jumping in the mud and puddles rather than avoiding them! If you are a beginner wondering what mud runs and obstacle races are really like, here is all that you need to know about them.

muddy run training

About Muddy runs

A mud run and obstacle event begins just like any other race such as a 5k or 10k. The only difference, however, is that you will have to race through a series of obstacles – mud pits, monkey bars, crawling nets, climbing walls etc – spread out over the race course. The purpose of these obstacles is to challenge the participants both physically and mentally. Some of the most popular mud runs and obstacle races you can go to include Total Warrior, Tough Mudder and Spartan Race.

How to train for a 5k mud run

One of the first questions you might ask yourself is what kind of training plan you need for a mud or obstacle run. Training and preparation are vital to participate safely in an event like this, as there is a lot more involved than simply jogging. There is no a one-size-fits all training strategy - at the very least, you need to focus on improving your walking and running skills. Plan your training program according to the distance and the number of obstacles you will have to cover on race-day. Start off by jogging every day, and then slowly pick up your pace. Once you get the hang of it, you should start long distance running, and increase your running distances every week.

In addition to running, add some strength exercises – sit ups, push-ups or squats – to your training program to overcome the obstacles you will encounter on the race course. You will need good upper body strength in order to climb or pull yourself up some of the obstacles. Although you are unlikely to be able to train in the exact same conditions of the obstacle course race, you can practice for the event by crawling across monkey bars at a park or if you have a local rock climbing wall or center this can be a great way to train yourself for the climbs involved. Training on different terrains is essential - avoid sticking to roads and try to mix it up by going cross train such as grass, mud, woodland and even go jogging in the rain to get used to the inevitable cold and wet that will come from the puddles and water obstacles.


Obviously junk and processed foods are a big no when it comes to preparing for mud runs and obstacle courses. You'll need to be getting a diet that has good mix of carbohydrates and protein. You can get good carbs from sources such as brown rice, oats, wholemeal foods - essentially the less processed the better (which generally means avoiding 'white' foods - white rice, white bread, white sugar etc). That's not to say that 'white' foods will be bad for you, but you'll benefit more from the less processed foods.

Protein can be found in all manner of foods - meat being the biggest and easiest in general, along with dairy foods and plenty of vegan-friendly foods too. Chicken is the staple really as it has virtually no fat but plenty of protein, as does turkey. Red meats like steak are equally good at supplying protein, however the jury is still out on the longer terms effects of red meat. If eating meat is not your thing then you can also get plenty of protein from foods such as green peas, chickpeas, most varieties of nuts and seeds, beans and of course fish such as tuna and salmon.

Dairy foods such as milk, eggs, cheese and butter are also great sources of protein, but should be taken with a little moderation to avoid too much fat entering your diet. There are also a very large range of protein supplements and powders you can get which can you can take multiple times throughout the day as required to add extra protein to your diet. You also want to add in some fruit and vegetables to in order to keep fibre levels up and give you essential vitamins. Fruits can also be a great alternative to snacking too and will help ease a sugar crave whilst avoiding junk foods.

On the race day

As you've probably guessed by now, a mud run will leave you very messy and likely soaked too, so you'll want to wear light clothing that won’t slow down your running and will dry easily. Similarly, wear lightweight shoes that have a strong grip - though the combination of mud and water will make you slip around a lot anyway. you might also consider wearing gloves, elbow or knee pads too to try and reduce any injury, however most people don't as they tend to slow you down a bit. On the race course, assess the obstacles and figure out the best way to go about them. Observe your competitors to see which challenges are the most difficult and don't be afraid to ask for help from the marshals and other runners. You'll find a lot of the obstacles you face can be overcome a lot easier with teamwork, so if you running with a group and are not too fussed how fast you finish, stick with them and all help each other out.

Recovering after the race

No matter how much fun you had, chances are you'll left with bruises and be a little sore after a mud run and obstacle race. It's also likely that you'll be covered in mud and water too. So after having a well deserved shower, how do you recover after an intense event like this? Follow these few key steps:

  • Keep your body moving to prevent stiffness.

  • Stretch your neck, legs and arms for five to ten minutes to help with post-race soreness.

  • Drink plenty of water to rehydrate and consider having a carb/protein shake to help recover.

  • Some runners also take an ice bath to help with the soreness and inflammation after a big event like this.

  • Continue with your fitness and diet plan - now that you've achieved a mud run, why not take on more challenges?!

And that's our quick guide to training for your first mud run. Mud and obstacle runs can be a small as 3k or 10k or more, so maybe start off with a smaller one and then gradually build up over time. Most of all, don't get bogged down in race times and numbers - have fun and just enjoy the challenge!

Now it's time to find one near you - Obstacle Challenges - We have some great listings for muddy obstacle courses for beginners such as warrior dash and the race for life pretty muddy events (cancer research uk)

Muddy Runs in 2020

Obstacle Races UK | Race Lengths | Themed Mud Runs | Top Obstacle Events

Mud Run and Obstacle course races are fast becoming one of the most popular events that people in the UK want to take part in - and once you do you’ll soon see what all the fuss is about. If you are thinking about taking part or just want to know a bit more about these exciting races then we’ll got all the info you need here.

Getty muddy at an obstacle race

Length of Obstacle Course Race

Muddy runs and obstacle races can come in a variety of lengths depending on how challenging they are designed to be. The easier ones typically start at 5/6km. Medium difficulty obstacle courses increase that to 10/12km and then to 16/18km for the more hardcore challengers. Some such as the Rat Race Dirty Weekender are even longer and very physically challenging.

The length of an obstacle course will be a good guide to how hard the race will be to complete. If this is your first one then you are probably best starting off with a smaller length and then building up to one of the more challenging ones. Obstacle events take a lot more effort than running, so even though you can ace a 10K run, you will face a much greater challenge from a 10K obstacle course. The muddy terrain, water and climbing require your whole body to be fine tuned, and not just your legs.

However, obstacle runs typically favour camaraderie and team building. If you are stuck getting over fence or making it through a trench there will be a queue of people lining up to help you through it.

Types of Obstacle Races in the UK

At their core an muddy run is simply a footrace that will have a variety of obstacles placed along the route. Some popular obstacles can include:

  • Climbing walls or fences

  • Monkey bars

  • Trenches of water

  • Mud slides

  • Crawling nets

  • Water slides

  • Generally mud everywhere

There are variety of different events you can take place in - and like other fitness events, muddy runs can come in a range of lengths with differing amounts of obstacles that can make even the most accomplished runner crawl to to the finish. Let’s take a look at some of the general things to consider when choosing an mud run event.

Speaking of teams - one of the types of obstacle race is in fact Team races. As mentioned, the challenge of obstacles can mean going it alone could lead to a lot bruised egos and broken bones. The challenges you face will be much easier in a team - even just two people can help each other out a lot. A lot of first time mud runners may want to go with a partner or group of friends as this will really help to ease you into this style of race and the helping hands will be a great boost to get you across the finish line.

That’s not to say you need a team though - plenty of people enjoy the challenge of finishing these kinds of events solo. You’ll need strength, stamina and the will to make it, but there is no reason why you can’t complete an mud race by yourself. As you look at going to one, you will see there are many different providers who tailor their challenge towards either teams or solo runners - this is something to bear in mind when you are choosing your event.

If you are after an even bigger challenge, you can look for a lapped obstacle race. In these events you don’t just run the course once - you run the course as many times as you can within the time limit. Whilst this might sound insane - and quite, frankly it is - you will get a great sense of satisfaction from not only finishing an obstacle course, but doing it multiple times in the same sitting!

Of course if you’d prefer to keep your own shoes clean - you could always send your kids to run the race for you? The popularity of mud races among adult races has inevitably led to children also wanting to participate - and kids seem to enjoy playing mud anyway, so it seems like a natural outcome really. Obviously the fun runs are shorter and obstacles smaller, but nevertheless your children will be pushed to their limits as they compete around a muddy, messy course.

Themed Muddy Runs

Mud run races have become very, very popular - so how do you make it stand out? Well like that Doctor Who themed wedding you didn’t really want to dress up for, event providers are starting to explore more and more ways to make their events unique and exciting. Nuclear Races take place in the mysterious Essex Secret Bunker, the Major Series are all run and managed by Majors from the Royal British Legion and Rat Race Coast to Coast is, well just running, swimming and kayaking in Scotland - but you get the idea.

If you want to feel that you are running for a reason, why not try a zombie survival run? Runs like the Inflatable 5k Survival Run in London pit you against thirsty zombies that are trying to catch you and take one of your three lives. You will have to evade and dodge the zombies as you make your way through the assault course.

Themed mud races are just as tough as any, and you will need to prepare just as much for these as you would any other mud challenge. The themes do give the races an extra sense of challenge and completing a Nuclear Race or zombie survival run has a pretty nice ring to it.

Top Mud Run 2019

We have picked out the best Muddy Runs and Obstacle events taking place in 2019. We have lots more listings available, just click on the 'Muddy Runs & Obstacle Events' tab at the top of this page to find them. Some other good events to look out for are warrior dash, spartan race, wolf run and rough runner.

Tough Mudder North West

Well let's face it, we could have picked any of the Tough Mudders events as they are all similar! This event series is what all obstacle races are judged against, now with extra events like the Tough Mudder Half and also kids events it's got something for everyone. We also went along to one of these events so check out our review here

Find out more about the Tough Mudder North West event.

Tough Mudder event