Photograph by David Urbanke. Styling by Michael Cook. Groomer: Matthew Tuozzoli at Atelier Management. Model: Daniel Pimentel at Ford Models . Tracksuit by Adidas. Shoes by H&M
A treadmill will do the trick when the weather sucks, but nothing beats the fresh air for getting your blood flowing. Plus, a little dirt caked on your shoes is evidence of where you've been. Pack a garbage bag for those muddy clothes (don't wear cotton; it'll get soaked and drag you down), a towel (helping each other rinse off afterward is a major part of the fun), fresh togs, water, and a snack for refueling. Bring on the endorphins.
Here, three runs to get you down and dirty in the mud:
This course is non-competitive and it pays to have a few pals with you -- cooperation is required for a number of the obstacles, like scrambling up a slick half-pipe. Tough Mudder is a grueling 10 to 12 miles long, and designed to totally wear you out. The signature obstacles include a stretch of running through dangling live wires (10,000 volts) and freezing-cold ice water dunk tanks.
To prepare: Endurance is absolutely necessary. You'll be lifting, scrambling up, and crawling in 25 or so obstacles, but if you can't run three to five miles without stopping, you need to up your stamina.
Must-have: Well-fitting trail running shoes are a must, or you'll crap out before the halfway point. Try the Men's Icebug Acceleritas4 RB9X. $139.95; RoadRunnerSports.com
This mud run was the originator of the national craze. It's a big event, but the 3.1 miles won't crush your spirit. And there's beer afterward. The centerpiece is the Goliath obstacle, a three-parter that includes a towering 30-foot-high cargo net crawl, a balance beam, and a huge waterslide. And then there's the 100-foot-long mud pit before the finish line.
To prepare: It's not so tough, but if you can't manage a dozen push-ups, you're not going to make it through.
Must-have: You'll never be so grateful for good socks like the Darn Tough Run/Bike No Show Light Cushion. $16; DarnTough.com.
The men: It's a party crowd, owing to the post-race fuzzy warrior hats, the beer, and the prizes for kookiest costume and best beard.
Definitely competitive, it's also one of the most popular mud runs, with 130-plus no-frills events each year. If you bungle some obstacles (like the 25-foot spear throw), your penalty is 30 burpees. And you run through fire and a gauntlet of costumed Spartans at the finish.
To prepare: Shoulder and back strength will get you over climbing obstacles, so get to the pull-ups and dead lifts.
Must-have: The Under Armour HeatGear Compression short sleeve T-shirt won't chafe ($25; UnderArmour.com). The Pearl Izumi Maverick 2-in-1 Short has a built-in, quick-drying boxer brief ($55; Shop.PearlIzumi.com).
The men: Fit guys make the post-course outdoor gang showers a sight to behold.