Before you jump into a high-intensity event, you need to do some high-intensity training.

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Running training - The Office Athlete
“Unless you want to light up like Uncle Fester, tolerance to pain can also be added to the list" … Michelle Bridges.“Unless you want to light up like Uncle Fester, tolerance to pain can also be added to the list” … Michelle Bridges. Photo: Ellis Parrinder

I received an interesting email from a sports physiotherapist last week. She owns a company called The Office Athlete, a physiotherapy, injury-prevention and corporate team-building business. Her email described how she sees a procession of guys and girls who have thrown themselves into adventure races and obstacle courses (think Tough Mudder, Mud Run and the like) and managed to rack up a list of injuries – mostly knee strains, rolled ankles and calf tears, but also minor muscle and ligament strains. Suffice to say, she has a thriving business – especially on a Monday morning.

Assault and obstacle courses, particularly those that get you covered in plenty of mud, are very much in vogue. I’ve done a few of them and your fearless field operative is happy to report that they are serious fun. Facebook is plastered (literally) with images of wet and slimy people smiling through sludge-caked faces.

But you need to be prepared. If you’re going to survive one of these excursions, you will need to be fit and able to, a) run, b) wade through muddy slime, c) pull yourself over a vertical wall, and, d) leopard crawl through, yep, muddy slime. Some event organisers even spice up their courses with dangling live electrical cables, so unless you enjoy lighting up like Uncle Fester, tolerance to pain can also be added to the list.



Buns of steel … Michelle's open beef burgers.Buns of steel … Michelle’s open beef burgers.

Some of the events offer training advice and comprehensive exercise programs on their websites to get you physically prepared for your day in the mud. Speaking as someone who has leopard-crawled, bungeed, skydived and canyoned her way through much of her life, my recommendation is to take advantage of them.

As a rule of thumb, I would suggest that if you’re not a regular exerciser, then it would be smart to put in three months of training before you get down and very, very dirty at these events. If you are an exerciser, and you can run seven kilometres without too much effort, do 15 push-ups on your toes non-stop and do six or more unassisted chin-ups, then you’re probably ready to hit the mud.

Remember, though – your training shouldn’t just consist of three sessions a week on the treadmill. To avoid injury and maximise your enjoyment of the events, you’ll need strength, balance, agility and stamina. Make sure your training regimen reflects this.

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