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Running in the Mud: 8 Practical Tips from a Runner!

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Running through mud is challenging, but it makes you a better runner. It helps build stronger muscles in your legs, calf muscles, and core and helps strengthen all of those tiny stabilizing muscles in your feet and legs. It’s tricky, but you can do it.

Knowing how to tackle swamp-like trails is best to transform yourself into a mud-running warrior. With the proper shoes, strength training, and the right mindset, a little bit of mud won’t slow you down.

Let’s get messy!

8 Tips For Running In The Mud

1. Find The Right Shoes

Conquering muddy trails demands good running shoes. Go for the dedicated trail runner instead of opting for a trail/road running hybrid shoe. A suitable outsole is critical; you want a running shoe with lugs that will sink its teeth into the deep mud for better traction. 

The Salomon Speedcross, for instance, is an excellent choice for muddy trail conditions. It boasts deep 6mm lugs on the grippy rubber outsole that is perfect for mushy trailheads. 

The arrow-point design of this shoe’s outsole helps propel you forward, and the superior grip of the rubber allows you to run through slick conditions with confidence.

2. Say Farewell to Your Clean Trainers

There’s no better feeling than admiring a clean pair of running shoes fresh out of the box. It’s downright magical. Your instinct is to keep them looking as fresh and clean as long as you can. I want you to fight that feeling! Take a good long whiff of that new shoe smell, and then come to terms with the fact that they will never smell like that again. 

Set aside a pair of trail running shoes that are made to get as dirty as possible. Opt for a darker shade rather than white and reserve them only for those messy trail runs. These aren’t your casual kicks, so don’t even try to keep them looking fresh. You are only setting yourself up for disappointment!

3. Adjust Your Gait Cycle

It’s easy to lose your balance when the ground beneath your feet is slippery and unstable. You can opt to slow down and take easy and measured steps, or you can do shorter strides while maintaining your speed. Keep your stride as close to your hips as possible to maintain your center of balance. 

Adjust your gait cycle back to normal once you make it through the thick mud. 

4. Don’t Forget About Your Running Socks

Good running shoes are essential, but you must opt for the right socks. While most trail running shoes are water-resistant, few are 100 percent waterproof. Soggy socks are inevitable when running through muddy puddles. Be sure to grab moisture-wicking nylon or neoprene socks that will draw moisture away from your feet. 

Keeping your feet dry will not only make your runs more enjoyable but will also reduce rubbing a chafing after a long run. 

Also, be sure to reserve your crisp white socks for a sunny day! 

5. Add Strength Training

Running through mud provides a killer workout, but there are also ways to prepare off the trails. The most prominent muscle groups hit when running through the mud are your calves and glutes. If you can fit in some strength training off of the trails, your next muddy run will be all that easier. 

If you have a wall and a few stairs, you have all the tools you need for strength training. Try and fit in a few sets of wall sits per day that will fire up the muscles in your glutes like a Christmas tree!

I like to hang my heels over the back of the stairs and engage in a few sets of calf raises per day for muscular calves. These aren’t killer powerlifting moves – just simple ways to incorporate exercises throughout the day that will make a big difference on the trails.

6. Reach For Additional Traction Accessories

You may feel tempted to reach for your ice spikes, but these shoe accessories won’t provide much help when running through muddy sections and may slow you down. If you want to transform your average running shoes into muddy trail conquering beasts, invest in mud spikes. 

This type of spikes look like super thick lugs found on trail running shoes and are a cinch to pop on and off. Plus, they are much easier to clean!

7. Keep Your Shoes Clean

No amount of cleaning will be able to recapture that out-of-the-box magic, but it’s essential to keep your shoes as clean as possible. It may be tempting to leave your caked-on trainers to simmer on your front porch, but they still need a little bit of love to boost their durability and performance on the trails. 

When you get home from running in muddy conditions, be sure to pop out the footbed and let it dry naturally. The last thing you ever want to do is start a run with a soggy footbed. Use a stiff-bristled brush to knock out dried mud caught in the lugs and dried mud on the upper. 

If they are smelling a bit funky (and they will), remove the footbed spray them down with a garden hose, and allow them to dry completely before taking them out on another run. 

8. Release Your Inhibitions

As a kid, we viewed mud as mother nature’s playground, and somewhere along the way, we lost that desire to splash around and get dirty. When the trail ahead turns swampy, try and channel that inner child that used to love splashing around in mud puddles. 

Getting dirty on a trail run is a badge of honor. It’s proof that a little bit of mud isn’t enough to slow you down!

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