The teaser two weekends ago surely made me crave warm weather and the activities it allows. One such activity that will be here before you know it is the Mudslide Obstacle Trail Run on June 15, 2013, at Holiday Valley. Get ready for a fun day with running, mud, obstacles and lots of happy people!

According to the Holiday Valley website: “The second annual Holiday Valley Mudslide is a mud run that’s FUN. Yes, you’ll get muddy, yes there is running, yes, there are eight obstacles but NO fire, NO barbed wire and NO electric shocks! The 3.5-mile course starts at the top of the mountain at Spruce Lake (we’ll even give you a ride up on a chairlift) and runs along the ridgeline then down the hill. The 5.4-mile course adds a bit of uphill running, just in case you’re feeling especially tough.”

So, here is our topic for discussion: Should you train differently for a mud run or obstacle course?

Simply put — YES!

The types of courses present challenges that are not seen in a traditional 5K. You have uneven surfaces, obstacles to conquer, and miles of various terrain and elevation to consider. That means you need balance, strength, endurance and flexibility.

Balance teaches the muscles to react quicker and helps the body learn to make fast automatic adjustments. High-speed reactive agility becomes increasingly critical as athletes move to higher levels of competition. The key rule in balance training is you must be slightly out of balance to train balance. Single–leg jumping drills and accessories like BOSUs fit into a balance program. Conquering the balance challenge develops a body that is capable of linking the mind and the muscles almost intuitively, to the point where the muscles quickly respond to the mind’s commands.

As far as strength is concerned, most athletes agree that in order to be strong, you must build strength from the center of the body out to the periphery — this means your core or speed center. These muscles include your abdominals, lower back and hip musculature. For a solid base of support capable of transferring power through the kinetic chain, athletes need to build core strength through a variety of controlled movements that allow powerful, explosive strength training that accommodates a full range of motion and whole body skill movements.

Both of these forms of training allow for cardiovascular improvements, but nothing beats hitting the slopes for some real time training. Interval training and circuit training on the hill is a great way to get started. What does that mean?

Run one mile, do 10-20 pushups. Run another mile and do 10-20 squats. Run another mile and then bear crawl 10 yards. Add triceps dips/pull-ups, and skip, hop and leap your way down the trail; all of these activities with develop a stronger you.

Finally, always spend time stretching. Your cool down may seem like a simple task worth shortchanging but in reality, stretching is an essential part of training your muscles to become more injury resistant and helps reduce muscle soreness.

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