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Primal, addictive, challenging — there’s a reason mud runs are as popular as they are. Getting caked in mud and soaked to the bone while you climb under barbed wire and leap over flames might not make sense to everyone, but it’s a test of physical and mental strength like no other.
And that’s why you can’t just roll up to a mud run in your usual gym attire. Along with the right training, you’ll also need the right gear to rock a Tough Mudder. Here’s our guide on what to wear for your next mud run.
1. Choose Tight, Moisture-Wicking Fabrics
Loose clothing can get snagged on obstacles and weigh you down during water features. Opt instead for tight compression clothing made from moisture-wicking fabrics — they’ll wick sweat, water, and mud away from your skin and help protect you from the elements.
Mud runs are costume-friendly, but make sure the costume pieces can survive the obstacles and won’t slow you down — think team shirts and face paint, not capes and wigs.
2. Leave Your Valuables at Home
Your best running shoes, your favorite tank, your smartwatch — these might be essentials when you’re lining up for a 10K, but a Tough Mudder is a different story. Avoid wearing anything expensive, electronic (unless it’s waterproof), or irreplaceable — there’s every chance it’ll get ripped, muddy, waterlogged, or lost. And you don’t want to go fishing for your fitness tracker in something called the “arctic enema.”
3. Wear Mud-Ready Running Shoes
According to Openfit fitness specialist Cody Braun, the footwear you choose can make or break your entire experience. Braun advises wearing properly fitted shoes that will maintain the integrity of your running style and gait pattern with the right support and comfort. (If you’re new to running, Braun suggests heading to a local running store for a gait analysis — they can help find the best running shoes for you.)
Trail running shoes or OCR shoes (specially designed for obstacle course running) are ideal, because the extra tread on the outsole of these shoes is designed for the various types of terrain you’ll come across. Avoid expensive road racing-style running shoes that are typically lightweight and offer little support or traction.
You may want to consider either having a dedicated pair of shoes for mud runs, or wearing a pair that’s near the end of their life cycle anyway. Like the rest of your gear, your shoes will likely get covered in mud — so it’s not unusual to see a donation bin at the end of a mud run where muddy shoes are collected, cleaned, and donated to a good cause.
4. Chafe-Proof Your Mud Run Outfit
Wet shoes are a recipe for blisters, so it’s worth investing in proper running socks to help reduce rubbing. If you’re particularly prone to blisters, consider using adhesive pads for extra protection.
And don’t be shy about using anti-chafe lubricants like Body Glide — these roll-on lubricants help protect skin from rubbing, which is key when you’re caked in dirt.
5. Take Your Gear for a Test Drive
It’s not a fashion show, but a well-dressed mud runner is a happy mud runner. Braun highly recommends staging a dress rehearsal and wearing your complete outfit — including shoes and socks — for at least two training runs before event day. This will highlight any flaws in your gear and give you time to make necessary changes.
6. Pack Throwaway Layers for Chilly Mornings
If the weather is likely to be colder, pack extra clothing to keep you warm while you’re waiting for the race to start. If you don’t feel like lugging your extra layers with you on the course, buy a cheap fleece blanket or hoodie from a discount store and leave it at the starting line.
7. Bring a Change of Clothes
Plan on changing into dry, clean clothes before you head home — your car’s upholstery will thank you. You also might want to pack any must-haves for post-race recovery, such as a foam roller or ice packs — or perhaps just a cold beer!
Interested in doing a Tough Mudder? Train for your event with Openfit’s 30-day program TOUGH MUDDER T-MINUS 30!