Team MudGear Blog

OCR Gear Review: Tom Tom Adventurer GPS Watch April 03 2017, 0 Comments

Tom Tom has produced a new Adventurer GPS outdoor sports watch that looks like it's going to be a hit with trail runners and those who like to minimize the gadgets they carry on their runs.

I'm a long time Garmin user, but it's always been the lower end models that can track pace and not a lot else, so I knew the Tom Tom would take some getting used to.  It is packed with features you expect in a higher end GPS watch and a few surprises as well.  Here are my overall impressions after a couple weeks of testing...
  • As an F3 guy, I frequently combine running and boot camp workouts.  One of my pet peeves with my Garmin was that I was constantly stopping my tracking by accidentally hitting the buttons.  Doing merkins (American style pushups) cased the back of my hand to hit the buttons on the right side of the watch.  I quickly became a fan of the Tom Tom nav button which is large and placed centrally to avoid those inadvertant clicks.  It took about a week to get accustomed to the new button style, but now I dig it.
  • The Tom Tom is fast charging and fast to grab a signal before a run.  No more waiting at the end of my driveway looking up at the sky like an idiot forever.
  • I never tried a fit bit or other activity tracker so having those features was new to me.  It's great to have it in a single device.  The sleep tracker was disappointing to only show total hours - I was hoping to see some analysis of sleep time/patterns/restlessness etc - not worth wearing for sleep yet, but an update may improve that.
  • The Android phone app was a surprising highlight of my testing.  It is really well done and easy to use.
  • Navigating the menus take a bit of time to understand.  It took me 4 runs before I finally found a workout summary.  It's there, but I hope this gets updated to be displayed automatically after a run and included a review of each mile split.
  • The Tom Tom also comes with a wrist-based heart rate monitor.  I could not get a consistent read with this but that is likely due to my sasquatch-like hairy arms.  It can also be paired with a chest strap for improved results, but I've not been able to test that yet.
  • The built in music player allows you to load the watch with music files and play them through the included blue tooth headphones.  These paired easily for me, but unfortunately, my new PC doesn't have any music on it.  I've gone to Pandora/Spotify so this doesn't quite replace my music for me but it will for others.
  • The ability to save runs as routes and download others to try to run and navigate with a built-in compass is pretty sweet.  Trail runners will especially enjoy playing with those features.

Overall Impressions:  "A-"   The Tom Tom Adventure Watch is a huge step up from my old basic Garmin, loaded with features, great battery life, and an impressive phone app.  


The Ultimate OCR Pre-Race Checklist May 05 2016, 0 Comments

What to bring to your obstacle race

 

Besides proper training, eating right, and getting your mind prepared for an OCR race - it's critical to have the day before all planned out and ready before you hit the course. We've made a short checklist below to help you prepare before, during, and after an OCR race. Good luck, race hard, and crush it!

  1. Your ID and race registration. Don't come all the way to a race and forget this critical first step. Keep a photocopy on your phone in image or PDF file to be safe.
  2. Cash for parking and the event area. Head there early to find a good spot, stretch out, and get mentally prepared before the race.
  3. Something to eat and drink before the race. Go with what your stomach already knows and avoid heavy foods. Many racers we know go with smoothies since it's easily absorbed by the body.
  4. Race clothes. Avoid cotton at all costs since it stays heavy and wet once it gets in contact with water or mud. Go with performance fabrics, preferably MudGear. 
  5. Protective Gear. Compression socks, arm sleeves, and gloves for protection if you plan to attack the course. Preferably MudGear too if possible.
  6. Shoes with good tread. You don't want to be the one slipping down a hill that's wet and muddy because your shoes had poor grip!
  7. Sunscreen. Just because you are cold and wet doesn't mean you are protected from the sun's UV rays.
  8. Old Towels. You won't get all the way clean after a race, but they will help!
  9. Change Of Clothes. Depending on where you run, a jacket or small blanket might be useful too afterwards.
  10. Garbage Bag. For your dirty and muddy clothes
  11. Extra Shoes. Self-explanatory
  12. First Aid Kit. Band-aids, ibuprofen, and other items for cuts and bruises.
  13. Sunglasses. Because who doesn't want to look good jumping over the fire?
  14. Phone. Chances are you're reading this on one, so if you take a selfie and use #MudGear you'll get a chance to win some free gear!

Until next time, 

Team MudGear


Reject Winter Hibernation and Gear Up - Get Massive Gains with Cold Weather Training December 18 2015, 0 Comments

A Mudman Pro Tip from Kevin "Mudman" LaPlatney 

Just because the weather has shifted and the OCR season has wrapped up in most parts of the country, that doesn’t mean that we have to resort to indoor gyms or fall into a winter fitness hibernation. The truth is, this “off-season” period is the most important time to focus on addressing weaknesses. You need to be building up your workout resume rather than succumbing to the urge to stay cozy on the couch through the holidays and stall on those New Year’s Resolutions. Plenty of off season training can (and should) take place out in the harsher weather and temps, and it’s smart to know how to gear up to make the most of those workout sessions.

While the obvious focus is to stay warm, we also want to make sure we’re keeping our bodies protected while we’re out in the blustery wind or snow that everyone, except you lucky Floridians (?), might have to face for the next 3 or 4 months. I’ll admit that as a New Yorker I’m not a fan of the cold (and should indeed be a resident of the Panhandle State instead). So, although it’s not as fun as training in shorts and tee-shirt, bundling up a little will prevent everything from dangerous hypothermia or frostbite, to just annoying muscle strains or chafing.

 

One of the biggest troubles I have in winter weather is quickly getting numb hands and fingers, so keeping them shielded from the cold will vastly improve the quality of an outdoor workout or run. I like to wear tough outdoor training gloves on these delicate hands when it’s even under 50 degrees, but I’ve discovered a training tip that with that extra layer, I have to work even harder to hold things (for a farmer carry, let’s say). So it’s almost intentional that gloves are sometimes part of the equipment, since it can benefit your grip strength for so many other obstacles you’ll face later, when you might not have have the gloves on.

For the rest of your body, some simple rules apply. It’s no secret that you want to avoid cotton, which will only retain sweat and quickly zap you of body heat. Not mention the likelihood of a rash from chafing = not a good time! So, stick with more “tech” material and outdoor performance apparel, which will also be lighter and more comfortable. I also tend to overheat quickly, so I prefer to dress in layers that are easy to shed if needed. A good base layer is key, which can be top and/or bottom of tighter fitting compression gear, and at the very least will cut some of the wind-chill down. I get the same issue with my toes as I do with numb hands, so good outdoor performance socks are absolutely critical. Again - no cotton unless you really want some blistered up, raw, unhappy feet. And lastly, since we know body heat is primarily lost through the top of our head and I’ll sometimes even get a headache from prolonged exposure to cold, we want to keep our noggins and ears well covered. A fleece or wool hat is perfect, even if you have to take it off at some point from too much warmth, and a neck gaiter or balaclava can also be helpful for the chilliest temps.

 

Though it might not exactly be considered “gear”, it’s also important to mention how sensitive our faces can be to the wind and elements, so never forget to bring some Chapstick in your pocket and maybe even apply some Vaseline to your cheeks and nose if they’re not already covered. It’s also never a bad idea to wear goggles or at least some (sun)glasses to block the wind and sun from your eyes, especially if snow on the ground is reflecting the light back at you, a bad recipe for squinting, headaches, and teary eyes that will only be distraction from enjoying your outdoor winter OCR training.

There’s a lot of research in progress right now about the benefits of cold shock therapy and regular exposure to cold outdoor training. It can be hard to face the cold, but finishing a cold outdoor workout is invigorating in a way you just can’t replicate in the gym. Good luck and get out there!

- Mudman

For more OCR training tips, get this powerful OCR Guide for free: Warrior Strong - How Elite Athletes Become Resilient to Injury in Obstacle Course Racing


Getting Back in the Race - Post Race Recovery December 04 2015, 0 Comments

A Mudman Pro Tip from Kevin "Mudman" LaPlatney 


No doubt you have all read some of these viral news articles on the extreme and terrible dangers of this scary sport called Obstacle Racing- everything from nasty skin infections to the possibility of death (you do sign a waiver after all). But the truth is that while injuries do occur, the vast majority of them are minor. Most can even be treated and dealt with on your own, and likely not miss too much training time or races. As an OCR athlete closing in on 100 career races, and by profession being a Certified Athletic Trainer for the last 16 years, I have had the circumstance to treat (too many!) injuries on myself and my patients, but can offer some basic care and ideas on how to not be on the shelf too long for these more common and less severe cases. Of course- and this also where I am going to sound like a pharmaceutical commercial- I still am obligated to tell you to seek advice from your physician on any injury or ailment you may be overly concerned about, so don’t be hero if it might mean risking further damage to your health (or your race season). So, without any further adieu, let’s get into the topic of our soft tissue aches and pains, and see what we can do about them…

MUSCLE SORENESS, STRAINS, and TENDONITIS


Probably the type of injury that has affected every single OCR athlete in history. There is virtually no way anyone has come out of a race completely unscathed after miles of running and obstacle torture. And it makes sense that the degree of that beatdown usually increases over further distances and higher number of obstacles to attempt- all potential sources to pull, bruise, cramp, and in some way irritate your muscles and tendons. If these boo-boos are nearly inevitable anyway, the best approach is really knowing the best ways to handle them the following week as we limp around the office or try to get back to the gym.

My first move after getting my muddy shoes and socks off at the race is always to throw on a pair of compression socks for recovery, which I’ll keep on for at least an hour and maybe for the whole ride home. Not only does it feel comfortable, but this will help to alleviate a lot of the naturally swelling and stiffness that occurs in my feet, ankles, and calves, even if no specific injury occurred (though I have had some ankle problems before, and cramping in the longer races has it me too sometimes).

Step two, after I’m back home or at the hotel, is to use a foam roller that I’ll usually bring along with me. It’s like a poor man’s massage, even though it might not feel quite as lovely when you’re bruised or cut up. Either way, a short session of that deep tissue work and some mobility focus will loosen up your legs and back after being stuck in the car for a while. The same goes for for using a lacrosse ball for your foot’s arch, or any other hard to reach sore spots.

The last part of treatment will test your mettle a little more, but might be the most effective in helping muscle recovery. It’s called contrast therapy, and involves a sequence of varying hot and cold to help get fresh blood to reach those beat up muscles and flush out the waste byproducts of exercise that cause lasting soreness. It can be done simply by alternating tolerable temperature range back and forth in the shower, or if a warm bath and then cold rinse are both available (think that steaming jacuzzi next to your chilly backyard pond or swimming pool), that will do the trick. Not only will it help recover your achy tissues, but I like how the chill can also wake you up and leave you revitalized after. 

One final piece of muscle recovery advice I can offer, really applies to both after your races but is best for every day practice. Proper nutrition and hydration is logically as much good preparation for competition as it is for followup recovery. Without getting too much into the individual food science or water intake recommendations, I assure you that if you are consistently on your game here, these small muscle complaints should be less likely to visit, and you’ll surely perform better on and off the course.

- MudMan 

For more OCR training tips, check out our Free Guide: Warrior Strong - How to Become Resilient to Injury in Obstacle Course Racing

 

 

 


Get Out of the Gym and Become a Better Obstacle Racer November 16 2015, 1 Comment

A Mudman Pro Tip from Kevin "Mudman" LaPlatney 

Some of the most important training for OCR doesn’t necessarily require any fancy equipment or expensive gym membership.  And most of these routines can be done at home or at the local park, with simple supplies that you might already have, or can easily create on the cheap.


How to become a better Obstacle Racer - Animal Movements

1. ANIMAL MOVEMENTS (Bear crawl, crab walk, alligator crawl, etc.)

If other creatures have perfected their movements to be fast and agile on the ground and in low or tight spaces, why shouldn’t we follow suit? 

For humans, and especially our crazy little muddy subspecies who participate in obstacle races, these full body exercises are great to practice for getting under the barbed wire mud pits, through tight tunnels, or under narrow wall holes.  Move like the animals they are named after.  Gives a new meaning to “beastmode”, right?

2. PULL-UPS/DIPS/MUSCLE-UPS

How to get stronger for OCR - Pull ups

To make sure climbing obstacles such as monkey bars, cargo nets, rope climbs, vertical walls, and hurdles won’t give you trouble, these basic upper body pulling exercises are the biggest part of getting yourself up or over those structures, while also developing super grip strength to hold on when you’re hanging for dear life!  Even just a simple long hang, suspended from any ledge or horizontal pole, will blast your forearms and fingers so much that the obstacles will seem like nothing.

3. CARDIO (run, swim, bike, etc.)

Even the shortest of races that are in the 5k range are going to test your endurance when obstacles get thrown into the running mix, so you had better have that engine ready to go.  Running might be the most ideal form of cardio training for OCR, but other methods will actually translate well and even compliment the mileage you’re getting on your feet. And you never know when a race may surprise you with a nice brisk swim mid-course anyway.

How to get stronger for Mud Runs - Plyometrics

4. PLYOMETRICS (Squats, lunges, jumping/bounding)

Nothing develops pure power better than explosive, ballistic movements and lifting.  Even if you don’t have bumper plate weights, wooden boxes, or the typical CrossFit setup, most of these done with just bodyweight are effective for what you’ll need to do in OCR.  Jump ropes are a classic and inexpensive piece of equipment you can carry anywhere, and it’s never hard to find a sturdy bench or sidewalk curb to bounce on and off. 

5. STRONGMAN “toys” (tire flip, sandbag carry, atlas stone lift, sled drag etc.)

How to get better at OCR - Move heavy stuff

This is where you can get creative with your own personal inventory or workout supplies.  Many of the above items can be made from parts at your local home improvement store or even found laying by the wayside.  One means trash can be another man’s treasure, when it comes to training equipment.  I personally have grabbed old used tires from the corner mechanic shop, and picked up hefty logs and rocks to carry while on my trail runs. 

If you want some brand new stuff of your own, cinder blocks (to carry or attach to a chain and drag) and demolition sandbags are two very inexpensive but very effective workout tools to keep in your car’s trunk.  Plenty of bang for your buck!

- MudMan 

For more OCR training tips, check out our Free Guide: Warrior Strong - How to Become Resilient to Injury in Obstacle Course Racing

 

 

 


The Awful Infections of OCR You Must Avoid! July 20 2015, 0 Comments

Similar catchy and fear inducing headlines like this one have recently cropped up again with new stories of obstacle racing health hazards that warn of disease, plague, and man eating parasites.  Sure, there are real documented cases of pig sty nastiness, and some individuals have suffered dreadful fates, but there’s also clearly a large dose of media sensationalism at play here.  What is even more apparent is the effort by some (perhaps even subconsciously) to write off the sport of Obstacle Racing as something that only crazy people do.  If you can paint for yourself a picture of OCR that is too dangerous, too unhealthy, and too crazy, then you don’t have to deal with it.  You can ignore your primal urge to get out and test yourself on the course.  In fact, those who dismiss it, and seek to justify their avoidance are ironically the people who are most in need of the visceral awakening that OCR delivers.

So, in the spirit of non-avoidance, let’s look at these health hazards and tackle how to deal with them head on.  First, you must recognize that headlines aside, Obstacle Course Racing is risky business.  But bubonic plague is not your first concern.  You will face many physical challenges in the course of your race that are foreign to your day job.  Scrapes, blisters and rope burns are inevitable, and you’ll proudly show them off to your co-workers on Monday.  Those are not injuries, those are badges of honor.  An injury is a whole different matter and involves broken bones, stretchers, and sadly even a few deaths each year.  The same can be said for skiing, surfing, hiking and countless other adventure activities.  Add to that list crossing the street and driving.

If you have steeled yourself for the physical risks, you are 99% ready to tackle the course.  But since the great outdoors does present some dangers you won’t find in a plush yoga studio, let’s look at how to deal with the number one health risk: infection.Mud Run Injuries can lead to infection if not treated

​​The majority of OCR events are held in rural areas or fields commonly frequented by animals where topsoil is contaminated with fecal matter from domestic and wild animals.  Races run on cow and pig farms are the perfect breeding grounds for serious infections such as E. coli, Staphylococcus and yes, albeit very rarely, even f​lesh-eating bacteria (Necrotizing Fasciitis).  These serious infections are extremely rare but make the best headlines.​  

Contaminated mud becomes hazardous when introduced to any break in your skin.  Infections occur when organisms enter your body through cuts or abrasions.  Skin infections such as pustular follicular dermatitis, cellulitis, pyoderma​ and scabies have also ​been documented.  

OCR injuries from calf burn are common from ropes

One of the most common areas for cuts and abrasion is the back of the calf and lower leg due to obstacles like the rope traverse.  A high compression sock is often the best defense against this common injury and entry point for infection.

Another problem area is your hands.  If you don’t work with your hands daily or you have many callouses from weekend lumberjacking, you should consider wearing gloves.  Obstacle race gloves prevent rope burns, provides protection from splinters, bruising, and rough obstacles components like chain, wood, cinder block.  Gloves also improve grip on rope obstacles and help when crawling over rocky surfaces or doing burpees in the dirt.

Other general precautions to keep in mind the next time you hit the course include packing an antibacterial ointment, like neosporin, or hydrogen peroxide wipes to clean any cuts and scrapes.  It's also a good idea to shower or clean up as best you can immediately following the race using soap. Although you are not likely to get completely clean until you get home, some experienced racers bring their own water jugs or spray tanks to make sure they can still wash off a bit directly after races.

While the headlines might seem scary, the best way to prevent infection is to cover and clean yourself up well (and don't chug the mud).  ​Your odds of catching a serious disease are slim.  With a few precautions, good packing and smart racing you can substantially reduce your chances of catching something nasty.  So, face your fears and get out there!

 

 

 

 


Ahhhhhh - Smells like Race Season!   April 06 2015, 0 Comments

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We know many of you are gearing up for Spring races, because more training and race prep questions have been coming into our inbox.  One of the most popular questions we get is some variation of... How do I take my performance to the next level?  Of course that depends on where you are now, and what type and distance race you have on the calendar, but let's take a sprint distance course (3 to 5 miles) and break down our top essential tip.  This will help get you ready for some of the top events this month like the Charlotte, New Jersey and the Tri-State area Spartan Sprint races.

Top Tip: Get your lungs ready!
Being able to run 3 to 5 miles at an even pace is totally different than running 3 to 5 miles at varying pace including bursts of speed between tiring obstacles.  Leading up to a race, we recommend that you bring in some interval training to your runs.  Twice a week, go for a timed run that lasts the length of your goal time for your race.  You will intentionally vary your pace between sprints and recovery runs to work at a range of heart rate zones.  The Sweedish word for this is "Fartlet" which means "spead play".  

So, for example,  if you're training for a sprint that you estimate will take 90 minutes then structure a 90min run similar to the following:15min warmup, 10 rounds of 1min sprint followed by 2min slow jog (30min), 10 rounds of 1.5min fast run followed by 1.5min fast jog (30min), then a 15min cool down.  If you race includes burpee penalties, it's not a bad idea to throw a few rounds of those in as well, as you will need to teach your body to recover on the run after finishing the exercise for better times.

Don't have a race on the calendar yet?  Here's a 10% discount code for any Spartan race to get you over the hump. SPEAR10 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Should I wear gloves in a mud run? October 17 2014, 0 Comments

If you are training for a mud run or obstacle race, you will probably have questions about the best gear to wear. Most online sources agree on the basics like wicking fabrics and shoes with good tread, but there are many conflicting opinions about gloves. We reviewed all the online advice we could find and filtered through endless threads in social media sites debating the subject to come up with these findings.

Pros
• Prevents rope burn, and generally improves grip on rope obstacles
• Provides protection from splinters, bruising and other injury
• Protection from rough obstacle components like chain, wood, cinder block
• Helps when crawling over rocky surfaces or doing burpees in the dirt
• Can keep hands warmer in cold races

CONS:
• May be useless for grip when muddy and wet
• Some types are insanely slippery when wet
• Notoriously bad on monkey bars
• Can hold and carry water
• May deaden your sense of feel (Esp. with Spear throw)

We found several credible athletes who reported their experiences having run major races with and without gloves. They claimed that the race itself made a difference citing the mud-heavy Tough Mudder as less likely to need gloves compared to the rope-heavy Spartan Race where they proved more useful. 

The weather is another factor that could influence your decision to use gloves in a mud run. In rainy conditions, all obstacles will tend to be covered in mud making most gloves to slippery to use. However, for cold weather races (or those where there are still snow on the ground) do wear gloves. Because frankly, frozen hands are absolutely useless on most obstacles.

When it comes to using mud run gloves, you can also let your own hands be the judge. If you have tough hands from outdoor work or training, you’ll be fine without. If you don’t work with your hands or have many callouses from weekend lumberjacking, maybe you should. 

Perhaps the best answer is to have them if and when you need them. You don't have to wear them if you can figure out a way to take them with you. Put them in a pocket or waste-band or stow them in a small pack if you are carrying water. There are options for a simple and economical pair of gloves that could save your hands or help you conquer an obstacle. If you lose them, it's at most a $15 loss, but if you need them, they are invaluable.

If this is the approach for you, there are several things that you should look for in mud run gloves. The most important features are:

  • Minimal water retention
  • Great grip
  • Palm cushioning

With these features in mind, we highly recommend the MadGrips Pro Palm Obstacle Race Gloves. While there is no such thing as a miracle glove that will enable you to stick to monkey bars coated in wet mud, we find these to be considerably better than others they've tried. They are perhaps the best gloves available for ropes, even when wet or muddy.

Bottom line, these tough mud run gloves are cheap enough to wear without worrying about ruining them in the muck, and they will take abuse and last a long time through many tough training workouts and races.

We hope this summary will help you decide if you will wear or carry gloves with you on your next obstacle race. Either way, good luck!