Monday, March 21, 2011

Bring on the Mud

Next up: Mudders and Grunters 5 mile trail race in FDR Park on Sunday, March 27, 2011.

Yes, I prefer longer races (can't keep up with the speedsters anymore - I have no speed at my age), but I've had so much fun at this race over the years that I just have to go back. It's raining today, and more rain is predicted during the week, so I'm hoping for a real slop-fest on Sunday morning. Mud, mud, glorious mud, nothing quick like it for cooling the blood.

As an added treat, my 17 year old son has decided to leap into the mire this year. I don't think he's race-fit, but I do think he can manage to have a blast wallowing around in the mud with everyone next weekend.

People ask me about running these kind of races, particularly about special gear, techniques or other tricks. Actually, I think it's pretty darn simple:
1. You need shoes with some traction, preferably lightweight ones because they're going to get wet and muddy. Trail shoes aren't that expensive, get some.
2. You shouldn't wear extra layers of clothes, even if it's pretty cold out there. Once those extra clothes get wet and muddy, they just become heavy and cold. Keep it light & tight, move fast.
3. You need to tie your shoes tightly. You don't need to duct-tape them to your ankles, or any other crazy technique. Just tie them tightly and attentively. And skip the socks, they just get wet and heavy. A quick slathering of petroleum jelly on your feet will do.
4. Run with quick & light feet. In muddy conditions, you need to get up on the balls of your feet, chop your steps a little, and just keep churning along. Drop your heel into that quagmire, and it can bring you to a near-stop, and possibly suck the shoe right off of your foot.
5. Turn corners with your feet, not your torso. That probably sounds funny, but it's important on slick surfaces to keep your center of gravity over your feet, and run around the corner, as opposed to leaning hard and just having your feet come along for the ride (like you can on a track).

It's spring time, so that means time for some muddy, messy trail running. Enjoy.

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