Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Big Running Question: Should I Train Through Injury?

Injuries.  They happen.  But they come with the territory of exercising and maintaining a physically fit lifestyle.  Participating in Ruckus could very cause a small injury or two, but what happens if you get injured before Ruckus...or any other running event for that matter? 

An injury can just be a setback and not a reason to give up on your training.  Sure, Ruckus is a race, so you are running (at your own pace!), but that doesn’t mean the only worthwhile training is jogging.  If you suffer an injury leading up to your 2013 Ruckus event, here are some ways you can continue preparation for your fun in the mud.

Trying Biking
Many are convinced that biking is the best training option for injured runners.  The best part about biking is that you have the option of using a stationary bike or riding on a trail in the fresh air.  Your legs are still the primary recipients of the strength training, and like running workouts, you have the option of doing intervals or a pedaling at long, steady pace.

Water Works
Constant pounding from running on grass or concrete can take a toll on a runner’s calves and shins.  If you are sore from this, try doing some pool exercises.  Running in the water offers resistance for strength building without the wear and tear on your legs.  Swimming laps is also a great cardio work out and strengthens the upper- and lower-body.  Plus, you might be swimming in some mud, so you want to master that breaststroke!

Efficient Elliptical
One of the most common machines at your local gym, the elliptical is a great alternative to running.  The motion closely mimics your running form, but does not require any impact.  Another advantage of the elliptical is that you can choose to work harder on your legs or arms, as both are used to power the machine. 

Pain, Pain Row Away
Few people have access to an actual in-water rowing machine, but the machine at your gym will do just fine.  This is a fantastic exercise for building muscle in the quadriceps and hips, which will be very helpful when attacking Ruckus’ climbing walls, cargo nets and numerous other obstacles.  However, this machine is often used incorrectly, so either study the proper form or ask a trainer for some pointers.

Stair Strength
Much like Sisyphus having to roll a boulder up a never-ending hill, the Stairmaster can be depressing.  But if you can look past its monotony and challenges, you’ll realize how good of a workout stair climbing can be, especially when nursing an injury.  Runners tend to have strong hamstrings, but the muscles targeted on the stairs are the quadriceps and hip flexor, which will lead to better muscle balance. 

So if you think your injury is holding you back from being a RuckStar, think again.  Try these running substitutes and find the one that works best for you, and you’ll be ready come race day!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Is Ruckus for Kids Too? (Here’s a Hint...Yes!)

We make no secret of the fact that Ruckus is the premier family-friendly event for runners of all ages. We’re good, muddy fun for the whole family to enjoy. Whether you’re 2 or 92 years old, we welcome all ages!

We get a lot of parents who participate in the mud run, and we see a lot of children standing on the sidelines, cheering on parents, family members and older siblings. While each family’s decision about what age is appropriate to participate in is their own to make, there is an increasing number of children participating in running activities and races.

According to, there are 364 running events just for kids and 255 running events for families throughout the U.S. just this month! From Los Angeles to Boston and all cities in between, there are so many opportunities for kids and families to get active together. 

The great thing about family friendly events is that portions, if not its entirety, are tailored to kids. A 6 year-old in St. Louis recently ran a marathon over the course of 9 months in half-mile intervals. The marathon was tied to a reading program in which the participants read 26 books and performed 26 good deeds. Events like this encourage learning and responsibility while respecting a child’s natural limitations.

Just as with adults, there is an abundance of children’s running gear that has come to market in the past decade. It is important to provide any young runner with the proper shoes and running gear as soon as they start their running career.  That’s right—no more light up Elmo sneakers for these Mini RuckStars!

When we say Ruckus is for everyone, we really mean it! When kids are given the chance to exceed expectations, they always surprise us. We look forward to seeing you and the whole family (grandma too!) at the next Ruckus event.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Swap Your Cover Photo for a Chance to Win a Free Ticket to Ruckus Boston!

Want to win a free ticket to Ruckus Boston?  Now's your chance!  Simply swap out your Facebook cover photo for our Ruckus image (above) and you could win!  Here's what you need to do:
  • Upload the image (above) as your Facebook cover photo
  • Tag Ruckus Sports in the photo
  • Leave a comment here
  • If you win, we will notify you via Facebook!
Many will enter, only 5 will win.  So what are you waiting for?  Swap out your cover photo and show your Ruckus pride!  It may earn you a free ticket (or a reimbursement if you've already purchased your ticket) to Ruckus Boston on June 15 & 16.  Good luck!

Follow us on Twitter too! @RuckusSports

Boston, Ruckus is Headed Your Way!

With the first of the 2013 Ruckus runs now in the books, we look forward to the next location: Boston!  Yes, we are headed eastward to bring the mud, obstacles and fun to one of the busiest and coolest cities in the nation. 

With just over two months before the big dates (yes, there are heats on both June 15 and June 16), there is still time to get to training, and more importantly, sign up.  Spots are filling up quickly, so get your team together (or sign up individually) and select your heat time.

Ruckus Boston has a little bit of something for everyone – Ruckus Mini for the kids, the 2-mile Heater race for competitors of all skill levels, and the taxing 4-mile Challenge, in which the top 10% of finishes from each division compete in a Champions heat.

We can’t wait to see you out at the Marshfielfd Fieldgrounds in mid-June where you will officially become a RuckStar!  Sign up today for Ruckus Boston.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

5 Surprising Activities That Will Help You Train for a Mud Run

Our Ruckus mud run includes just a little bit of everything, and you will use just about every muscle in your body to finish the race.  In order to properly prepare, we suggest your training includes several activities that mimic the challenging obstacles throughout the course.  Some of these activities may, in fact, surprise you! 

  1. Rock Climbing
When taking on the course’s Barricade Boulevard and Gr8 Walls of Ruckus, you’ll want to have that extra upper-body strength developed from one of our favorite outdoor (or indoor!) activities—rock climbing!  Of course, you don’t have to go to the closest mountain or peak and free climb like in the movies.  Many recreation centers and outdoor facilities offer climbing walls that are great practice. 

2.      Rope courses    

Both high and low rope courses are often used for both personal development and team building activities.  We love to see the same goals met on the Ruckus course (as some competitors choose to participate alone and some as a team).  Training at a rope course will come in handy for the Air Loops and Nose Bleed nets, which require you to swing from rope to rope á la Tarzan and race to the top of a daunting cargo net.

  1. Hiking
This kind of training is great because it doesn’t require any special equipment (plus anyone can do it!). Just head off to your nearest trail or park and start trekking.  The constant uphill and downhill terrain is a great calf workout, perfect for the ever-changing ground on the Ruckus course.  Hiking is a fun, rewarding and cheap way to train, and you might even stumble upon your new favorite place to go and have some alone time.

  1. Military Obstacle Course
For the serious competitor with eyes on the most demanding 4-mile Challenge division, a military obstacle course may be a great option for training.  Designed to train some of the most physically fit individuals, military obstacle courses offer many of the same obstacles as Ruckus.  You will be forced to climb, crawl, swing and everything in between through barriers.  The biggest difference is that at Ruckus, there won’t be a drill sergeant screaming at you to go faster (although there may be some cheering spectators!).  At Ruckus, you go at your own pace.

  1. Local Playground
Playgrounds aren’t just for kids anymore.  Although sitting on a swing and pumping your legs won’t train you for a mud run, other playground activities will.  Swing across monkey bars, walk across balance beams and climb up ladders to train for obstacles like the Gorilla Bars and Normandy Spikes.  For more upper body strength, attempt some sets of dips on parallel bars or pull ups on whatever you can find. 

Instead of just running at your local park everyday (although that’s still very productive!), we suggest you consider training by doing some of these other activities.  Trust us when we say that you will be ready to shine when your mud run day comes!  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Top 4 Biggest Mud Run Mistakes of All Time

Let’s be honest.  Your Ruckus mud run isn’t going to go 100% incident-free.  You’ll go home with a bruise or cut, need to take three showers to get fully clean, or still be sore at work or school on Monday.  But despite the bruises, cuts and sore muscles you’ll get along the way, we both know that you’ll have a blast competing in a mud run. 

And although we can’t help you avoid every slip on the mud, we can warn you about some of the biggest mistakes a mud runner can make when competing.  We hope that these 4 mistakes will help you prepare for your next mud run...and avoid any additional cuts or bruises! 

1.      Wearing the wrong shoes

Competitors participating in a mud run are guaranteed to run on all sorts of terrain ranging from grass to mud to wood.  The need for a decent pair of athletic shoes cannot be overstated.  Do not use the same pair you wear to cut the lawn just because they will get dirty.  We recommend a pair that has good traction and durability.  When shopping for your pair of running shoes, know that price is not the determining factor – just because they are expensive does not mean they’re the best for you!

2.      Jumping too aggressively

Every once and awhile, it feels just plain awesome to jump into a pile of mud at full force.  But be careful because Ruckus obstacles like the Mud Garden and Down-n-Outs have extremely shallow depths. If you jump in forcibly feet-first, your shoes may hit the bottom of the pit very quickly and you might get stuck.  From there, you will probably pull your foot clear out of your shoe trying to move (good luck getting that one back!).  Be cautious when entering the mud pits and then work up your momentum once you are established in the muddy mess (another tip is to slide face first through the pits...sometimes it’s the fastest and most effective way!). 

3.      Starting too fast

This is especially important for those brave enough to test the Champions heat, our 4-mile course.  This is the most competitive division, but it is not won in the first quarter-mile.  You will start in waves, and trust us when we say there is no reason to have a collision with another RuckStar in the first thirty seconds.  If you are looking to break records, do so after the first obstacle when runners are more spread out.  Pacing yourself is crucial!  We don’t want to have to peel you off the ground 100 yards from the finish line!

4.      Not planning ahead

Ruckus Boston may be two months away, but spots are already filling quickly!  We know that competitors like to sign up with family, friends and co-workers to compete as a team, but that only works if you all sign up in the same heat.  In order to do so, you need to get on the ball now!  Plus, it’s important to start training at least a month or two before your big race day. 

It may be important to show up to your mud run with an open mind and maybe a Band Aid or two, but we promise you won’t be disappointed!

Monday, April 15, 2013

How CrossFit Can Help You Train for a Mud Run

There are many different fitness crazes and fads that are constantly coming and going. Everybody has their own sort of routine whether it be running, pumping iron in the gym, or even utilizing the newest infomercial fitness gadget.  But which fitness routine will get you in the best possible shape for a mud run or obstacle course?  CrossFit!   

What is CrossFit? 
If you’re not familiar with CrossFit, it is most easily described as the sport of fitness. The workouts are constantly changing and challenging. CrossFit consists of many different pulling movements from a plethora of different sports and exercises to test your strength, cardiovascular system and flexibility (known as “mobility” in CrossFit lingo).  Overall, CrossFit focuses on improving an athlete’s overall level of fitness. A general CrossFit WOD (Workout of the Day) is no longer than 20 minutes. Twenty minutes may seem like a cakewalk, but the workouts are highly intense and physically exhausting. Daily WODs are available on the CrossFit website for free; all you need is the equipment.

Is CrossFit Popular? 
The intense and efficient workout program known as CrossFit has been widely adopted by people from all walks of life who have the desire to push themselves to the peak of their physical ability. In addition to over 5000 boxes (affiliate gyms), CrossFit WODs have been implemented by many fire department and first responders, law enforcement agencies, military and professional/university athletic programs.

How Serious Does Crossfit Get? 
For some CrossFitters, the WODs are just a way to stay in shape and get healthy. Then there is another level of CrossFitters known as elite level or “games” athletes.  The athletes train according to a rigorous schedule, often 2-3 times a day, in preparation of the CrossFit Games. The CrossFit Games were created in 2007 to find the “fittest athletes on earth”.  The games incorporate the mainstay movements of CrossFit along with plenty of curveballs so the athletes must be prepared for anything.

How Will Crossfit Help Me Train for a Mud Run?
Quite well, in fact.  Many of the movements in CrossFit are akin to obstacles in our course. With that in mind, it only makes sense that CrossFit is the premier way to get in Ruckus shape.
To help you prepare to dominate your next Ruckus race (or any other mud run!), we’ve broken down our obstacles to find the CrossFit movement that will be help you train: 
  • Barricade Boulevard:  For this obstacle, your upper body strength will be tested.  Train by using CrossFit movements like muscle ups to help get you up and over the barricades.
  • Air Loops: Swinging from rope to rope can take its toll on your forearms. Heavy kettlebell swings will give you lumberjack forearms to get you through this tough obstacle.
  • Gorilla Bars: Another upper body gasser! As long as you train with a few kipping pull ups, you’ll be eating bananas at the finish line in no time.
  • The Gr8 Walls of Ruckus: Yet again another obstacle to test your upper body. The Gr8 Wall of Ruckus is even higher than any of our Barricade Boulevards, but you have pegs and ropes to assist you. Train with weighted pull ups and you won’t even need the extra assistance.
  • Mt. Hay: By the time you hit this monstrous climb, your upper body might be tired. Combat this by using your legs. Nothing strengthens your core and legs like CrossFit’s front squats.
  • Awkward A-Frame: We don’t call it awkward for nothing!  The Awkward A-Frame will challenge your dexterity and your body as a whole. Clean and jerks will challenge you the same way while strengthening you in the process.
  • Mud Garden: If you don’t explode out of the mud, you’ll get stuck. Box jumps are great for training your quick twitch explosive muscles.
  • Ab Drags: You’re going to be dirty and your core will be challenged. You can’t do anything about the mud, but plank crawls will help prepare your core!
  • Nose Bleed Nets:  The rope net is your ally and enemy at the same time. Becoming friends with rope climbs beforehand will keep you on their good side.
  • Ranger Bars: Just as challenging as Ab Drags, only this time, you’re upside down...and on a pole.  CrossFit’s wall walks work your whole body and help with the inversion thing many people struggle with.
  • Normandy Spikes: Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack should train with CrossFit pistols to avoid sharp sticks!
  • Lobster Traps: Don’t think crustacean...think like a bear!
  • Down-n-Outs:  Getting out is the tricky part, but overhead lunges will teach you to take long and strong strides up and out.
  • Twisted Fences: The key is to jump and pull yourself over as quickly as possible.  Jumping pull ups will have you sliding down the other side with ease.
  • Tirefield: This obstacle has been designed to trip you up when you’re tired. Bar-facing burpees will have you ready to get back up in case you meet the rubber.
  • Mt. Ruckmore: The pièce de résistance of the Ruckus course—Mt. Ruckmore!  When you combine all the previous movements together, Mt. Ruckmore will be child's play.  Feel free to slide your chiseled body all the way down its slope and celebrate! 

CrossFit is a dynamite way to start your Ruckus training.  Combined with a few runs and jogs throughout the week, you’ll be in tip-top shape for Ruckus.  With proper training, both mentally and physically, the Ruckus course (or any other mud run for that matter) will feel like another day at the playground...only slightly muddier!  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Terrain Training: Tips for Running on Grass, Concrete, Mud and More

When training, we get to choose which terrain to run on. Oftentimes, it can be tempting to choose whichever terrain is the smoothest and flattest of our available options (i.e. our friendly concrete sidewalks). But when it comes to obstacle races, most cover a variety of terrain throughout the competition. In order to fully prepare for and enhance the potential for success, your training needs to mimic the potential terrains you will encounter during any race. So let’s break down potential terrains:

Grass has more shock absorbency than concrete or dirt, meaning that your feet take less of a pounding during your run. More shock absorbency also means less “bounce” while running, which means you won’t run as fast on grass compared to a more solid surface. Grass can be fun to run on, but it’s also important to watch out for holes or changes in terrain that can be hidden by the grass. A sprained, twisted or even broken ankle is a devastating injury around race time! 

Concrete is far-and-away the most common surface runners choose to train on. But remember that concrete, for all its accessibility, can have detrimental effects in the long-term. Extensive research shows that extended running on concrete surfaces can lead to serious issues which impede a runner’s ability to perform at the level they desire. The hardness of the surface provides repetitive, unforgiving shocks to the foot which can affect the entire body. While concrete is certainly a viable option for training, it should be balanced out with other terrains.

Dirt trails provide the happy middle between concrete and grass, providing just enough shock absorbency to reduce impact on the feet, while maintaining enough hardness to allow runners to keep pace. When you’re running a lot during training, it’s important to choose a surface that provides this level of “give” because long-term exposure to unforgiving surfaces will take a toll on bones, joints, tendons and muscles. Additionally, running on trails provides a way to interact with nature in an established way without having to worry about twisting ankles (dirt can’t hide holes the way grass can).

Finally, perhaps the most difficult “terrain” to run on (or in, for that matter) is mud.  Obviously, mud (like what you’ll encounter during our Down-n-Outs) is known to slow runners down tremendously.  What’s our best tip for running through mud?  Tie your shoes tight and use the power that your legs have to wade your way through murky water and slippery mud.  We recommend being cautious though—mud can trip you up pretty quickly and could lead to a mud run injury.  Be safe and have fun when it comes to running on (and through) mud—even when training! 

Training for a race, event or competition means more than running on the same surface every day until the big day arrives. Put a lot of thought into your training so you can not only preserve your body, but so you can also gain exposure to a variety of terrains. That way, you’ll be fully prepared for whatever comes your way!  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why It’s Important to Face Your Fears

One word comes up a lot when we talk to people about Ruckus: fear. So many people we interact with at our mud runs open up about how they were so hesitant to participate because they were afraid.  But after completing the obstacle course, they feel empowered, strong and brave. In other words, they realize who they’ve always been beneath all the fear.

What is fear?
Fear can take many forms, whether that’s a quiet voice that eats away at self-confidence or a debilitating shout that cripples our sense of possibility. We’re often tempted to avoid our fear triggers at all costs, when in reality, consistent avoidance of fear gives our fear more power over us.

Am I alone in my fear?
When it comes to Kansas City Ruckus, we’re no stranger to the fears people feel – fear of failure, fear of injury, fear of looking silly, even fear of heights—because these are common fears. The important thing to remember about fear is that by no means are you ever the only person feeling what you’re feeling. Odds are every single person at the starting line is facing large and small fears too, and their fears are probably very similar to your own.

Why should I face my fears?
Left unchecked, fear can dominate your mindset and limit your possibilities. Facing fear is hard to do, but necessary to live a truly boundless life. The unknown wasn’t meant to be unknown forever, and it’s our job to take the risk of doing new things so we may expand our world. Facing fears allows us to see new ventures as opportunities and not obligation. And, most importantly, facing our fears means finding out what we’re truly made of—and we’ll often be surprised by the results! We can do more than we think, and facing fears ensures we aren’t selling ourselves short.

Just remember—fear is normal, you are not alone in feeling it, but you should do everything you can to face it. That’s why we created Ruckus in the first place. We want to see people living their lives to the fullest, unhindered by fear. We hope you’ll join us for the wild adventure!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ruckus Kansas City 2013—It’s Almost Here!

The week is finally here!  Ruckus Kansas City is only a few days away, and hopefully you are as excited as we are.

Sign up! Wednesday night at midnight is the deadline to sign up for Ruckus Kansas City, so first and foremost, make sure you have your heat time set up.  Then you are all set for the big day Saturday! 

Arrive on time! The Ruckus KC mud obstacle course is located at the Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, MO.  Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to arrive well before your race, as there may be traffic.  Also, parking is $10 per vehicle, so we recommend carpooling. 

Check in!  Once you have arrived, check-in with a photo I.D. one hour before race time and receive your pre-race information.  There are three different levels of course difficulty (Challenge, Heater and Mini), along with divisions for Men’s Open, Men’s Master (45+), Women’s Open and Women’s Master (45+).  Be sure to show up for the correct one – we don’t want anyone accidentally competing in the 4-mile race instead of the 2-mile (yikes!). 

Dress appropriately!  You will be running, crawling and climbing through some challenging terrain, so we suggest wearing comfortable clothing you wouldn’t mind dirtying.  Previous participants have also suggested wearing pants, gloves and even costumes for some great photo-ops.

Celebrate! Stick around after the race for some great food and adult beverages (for those of age, of course).  Saturday is going to be a fun, challenging and memorable day for everyone involved.  Don’t miss out on the excitement and entertainment that is Ruckus Kansas City! 

See you soon, KC! 

Congrats to Our Facebook Cover Photo Winners!

A few weeks ago, we asked our Facebook fans to change their cover photo to our own Ruckus image to enter to win a free ticket to Ruckus Kansas City on April 6.  After many of you entered to win, we drew five names from a hat to determine the winners.

Congratulations to the following RuckStars!  You’ve won a ticket to Ruckus Kansas City 2013!
  • Christina King
  • Billy Stuecken
  • Kristin Jay
  • Brad Lynn
  • Aaron Helton

Did you miss out on the opportunity to win?  Don’t worry!  We will have many other opportunities to win free tickets to all of our Ruckus events.  Just keep up with us on Facebook to learn more!