The man who owns the motocross/hill climb course near our house gave me permission to use his layout to train for my mud runs. Less than a half-mile from the house, it’s an ideal training spot.
There’s a nearly flat field, perfect for parking, between the highway and the hill climb. Ron built a bridge, or had one built, that crosses Peter’s Creek. Spectators and contestants can walk or ride across the bridge and access the competitive opportunities. The trails branch off into the woods and hills. These are ideal for working on distance and speed. The bare hill, which is so steep I have to go up on all fours, is great for working on hips, thighs and calves as well as stamina. So far this year, I’ve used the course a half-dozen times.
My first run on a Saturday in January started out in the rain and ended with snow. On the next two, the trails were covered with snow. On the most recent ones, it’s been a mix of snow and bare leaves, depending on the shade and the sun. On all of the runs, the surface has varied from slick to absolute muck and mush. Even with our recent spate of temperatures hitting the seventies, there are still places where the ground has not completely thawed.
At some spots, there is an inch or two of mud on top of the frozen shelf. In others, the mud is as much as four to six inches deep. It was one of those spots that grabbed my shoe off of my left foot on my last run. Even though I was only running at a slow trot, it took me several steps to get stopped. Somehow, in spite of all my hopping around like a drunk stork, I managed to keep my sock from getting completely gunked up during the process of turning around and going back to pry my shoe out of the mud. Even with that delay, I completed the lap with my best time to date.
While anyone out for a pleasant walk or run would find the conditions a bit repulsive, they’re perfect for what I want.
The slipping and sliding helps me strengthen my core muscles, improve my balance and reflexes and increase strength in my hips and thighs. The extra weight of the mud caked on my shoes helps improve speed and stamina. And the possibility of face-planting or falling on my butt without notice brings a sense of heightened awareness and alertness.
It really isn’t that unusual in life that less than desirable circumstances bring about benefits for us, even in our reluctant moments. Our greatest growth often comes from such situations. Still, it’s a good idea to get in the creek and wash off most of the mud before we head back into the house. We need to keep in mind that even when something benefits us, others may not appreciate all of the implications.