My First 5K / Mud Run

Juan Orozco
Juan Orozco

Entering the Rugged Maniac is one of the craziest things I’ve ever done.  I have never pushed myself so hard for so long under this amount of soreness and pain. In hindsight, I don’t think I pushed myself that hard but the race was something I never thought I’d ever do.

When I started training with Ciri, I had lots of questions regarding training and the race itself.  Is there a type of shoe that helps keep footing more than others?  What kind of training has a better success rate?  Can we actually finish?!

The questions now feel somewhat naïve. We attempted a couch to 5K program and did okay, we actually didn’t finish it by race day.  We used our Vibram Five Finger KSO and had NO traction… but neither did anyone else. Mud.

Of course you will finish.  You can walk the entire time, skip every obstacle if you want, although not sure why you would.

What I learned

The most important part I learned from this whole ordeal, was to have fun.  Make friends, enjoy the mud and the outdoors, and don’t worry about your time.  It was, honestly, like being a kid again.

When we were checking in our bag, I overheard two people complaining over how slow others were and how they got in the way.  This was really off-putting until we were out on the track.  During our heat, we met two guys that were just a little faster than us as first. We were able to catch up to them after a while and we sort of stuck together. We ended up motivating each other, helping each other past obstacles, and hooting and hollering when we passed the mile markers. Mick and Eric, you guys rock.

The obstacles were fun except one: the barb wire hill.  That thing was nasty.  Bring something to protect your knees.  The sharp rock tore my knees and shins to shreds.  Once the hill was passed, though, there is a wave of amazement and accomplishment.  Yea, you’re playing in mud and climbing hills, but it’s not easy. It’s fun, yet difficult, but rewarding nonetheless.


IMG_0457The couch to 5k is all running.  My legs felt fine after the run, the soreness is all upper body, back, and butt. Granted, I slipped in the mud and fell on my ass a lot, we should have still done more core or upper body stuff.

How do you train for obstacles when there aren’t any in your home, though.  We could probably hang a rope on a tree for climbing exercises, which would have helped A LOT, most of what we needed was endurance and core stuff.

Packing for the race wasn’t too big of a deal.  Spare clothes, towels, minor toiletries, etc.  Bring sandals – if you can spare your shoes, donate them, they’ll be really muddy anyway.

Don’t go too overboard with running clothes. If you wear shorts, protect the knees.  Simple shirt will suffice provided it’s lightweight and won’t take on fifty pounds of mud. I spent about $70 at Target on spandex undershorts, a running shirt and some simple shorts.  They cleaned up pretty good and even if they didn’t, they still work as simple exercise clothes.

I heard the early heats were bogged down by the massive amount of people running. Our heat was second to last and was very empty.  I would do that again because it removes that added pressure of getting in people’s way.


Bring a friend.  Bring LOTS of friends.  We met a father that was easily in his fifties.  He brought his “boys” this time around and their whole pack finished waay ahead of us. How cool is it to be in shape to not only run this thing but also keep up with your kids.  Motivating each other and just having a blast. Friggin’ awesome.

Ciri and I had each other.  If I fell, she was there if I needed help.  On the 12 foot walls, I helped her over.  Our friends Mick and Eric were great motivators and good sports.  To also have friends and family in the crowd though, would be great as well.  There was lots of stuff to keep kids entertained as well. 

Sprint that last turn.  You’ve done just over three miles of obstacles, mud, sweat, and blood.  You can sprint that last 100 ft.



Ciri got me into the minimalist shoes.  I’ve always loved being barefoot so these shoes make sense to me.  After reading up on the “barefoot movement” they have taken up more of my life than I thought they would.  They take some getting used to, but they feel really good once you’re broken in.

I have the Vibram Five Finger KSOs which I realized aren’t very good for trails, let alone mud runs.  Still, they held their own and are currently getting a well deserved wash.  The sole is very smooth for track or streets and does ok for grass or very mild trails. They felt REALLY good, though and being able to shake the mud off easily was fairly advantageous. 

Our next run will definitely warrant the purchase of a new pair specifically for trail runs – we’ll see if they offer better traction. I know mud negates a lot of special treads but even preventing one fall will keep my butt happier.


IMG_2857I’m all about memories and the experience. We met some cool people, took some scary spills, overcame many fears and pains, and took on a challenge we never thought we could.  I honestly see things differently: if I can do this, what else can I do?  What more adventures can I find? How much farther can I push myself? 

I would much rather run on trails than on pavement or tracks so, for me, the experience was about enjoying the outdoors and playing in the mud. It was also about conquering obstacles of the track and of ourselves. It might sound silly to career marathon runners, but this was an amazing experience for us.

I hope that others will be motivated to try a mud run of their own.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth every drop of blood and every muscle ache.