Thursday, March 27, 2014

Work it, obstacle race style: Three Things Thursday

Spring (loosely speaking) has meant one thing in our house: Dirt. More specifically, mud.

The thawing snow has turned our backyard into a playground for Denali, who is seizing the opportunity to romp and dig and burrow and bury. One never knows what she'll see when looking out the window - head in the ground, knees in a hole. I can't blame the dog - he's been cooped up all winter and needs to have some fun.

It's just not so much for us. Our brick red ceramic tiles show every ounce of dirt, and each trip inside leaves a path of muddy prints. Mark has been furiously using the Shark to keep things clean only to be thwarted by Denali squirming past us as we try to wipe his feet.

And here's the kicker: Things are about to get a whole lot dirtier. I have a feeling, though, that Mark isn't going to mind as much.

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I recently signed on to be an ambassador for the Dirty Girl Mud Run. The race series, which is the largest women-only 5K mud and obstacle series in the country, is making a stop in Indianapolis on May 17. At Dirty Girl, it’s not about who finishes first. All obstacles are optional and all fitness levels are invited to participate.

I have never, not once, signed up for a race like this (though I've found myself in some deep mud and hopping hay bails during trail races). Heck, I haven't even done a color run. But I thought I was time I changed all of that and had a little more fun with my running, especially as I wind down from a tough training cycle.

The event will have 10 to 12 obstacles along the 5K course. Some examples are the “Pretty Muddy Stuff” mud pit, the “Get-a-Grip” net climb (you ring a bell when you reach the top), and “Down and Dirty,” where you crawl under a series of nets in the mud. All obstacles are optional, so if you don’t feel like tackling one, or can’t for some reason, you’re welcome to pass it by.

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I have a feeling that I'm not going to want to do that - skip the challenges. Something about bragging rights and competition. To make sure that I'm ready, though, I've been thinking about a few exercises to work into the mix.

1. Pulling exercises. Some of the obstacles include inflatable stairs/ladders and the net climb. To tackle those, you need to be able to pull yourself using the muscles in your back. Think pull-ups (assisted or otherwise), lat pull downs and rows. I'm particularly fond of rows as you can do them with minimal equipment at home.

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A seated row with resistance band is a great exercise targeting most of the muscles in the back. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 reps. It would also be worthwhile to find a challenging band and perform three sets of 4 to 6 reps to improve your strength and ability to pull yourself up.

2. Lateral leg exercises. Mud is slippery, people slide. It's that simple. If your stabilizing muscles aren't strong or there are any imbalances, you might be at risk of injury. Adding side lunges, monster walks and banded leg lifts target the often neglected glute medius, which helps rotate the thigh and assists in hip abduction. Weakness in the glute medius can contribute to knee pain, PFS (aka runner's knee), IT Band issues and hip pain. Fun, right? Do them. I will, too.

3. Core work. A strong core is the foundation for a strong body. Dynamic exercises that activate the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis will build strength and stability. My favorite exercises to hate are mountain climbers, plank dips and hip thrusts.

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While I'm not overjoyed at reacquainting myself with mountain climbers, I am excited to take on this challenge with blog sister Kim of Girl Evolving. If you want to join us in Indianapolis - or try a Dirty Girl Mud Run elsewhere - you can use code BLOGFRIEND for $10 off registration.

On Twitter: @godirtygirl
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Be sure to use hash tags #godirtygirl and #dirtygirlmudrun

Disclosure: I received a free registration to the Dirty Girl Mud Run in exchange for posting about the race. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, although I am a group fitness instructor and ACE certified personal trainer, you should consult a physician before starting any exercise program or diet plan. If you choose to do any of the exercises featured on this website, you do so at your own risk.


  1. AHHHH that's so tempting!! I LOVED the Down and Dirty Mud Run I did a couple years ago. Indy is only about 5 hours from me....

  2. These have always looked fun!! I can't wait to hear all about it. My mother-in-love and sister-in-loves and nephews did a dirty dash last july and loved it!! they aren't runners so it was great having a race that didn't intimidate them.

  3. I have done two of these races -- the warrior dash (5k) and the tough mudder (13 mi). The 5ks are SO fun because you can just jump around in the mud and the obstacles are not too tough to do on your own. With the longer ones like tough mudder, they are pretty intense, and about teamwork in some obstacles. Overall though they are super fun! Hope you like it!

  4. This race looks like fun. Although I think for me I would have more fun just being a spectator. I HATE worms and with mud comes worms so that leaves me out!

  5. Looks like fun!! I think you'll enjoy it! :D Can't wait to hear about it!