Obstacle/Adventure 5k filter: What do I wear?
March 5, 2012 6:38 AM   Subscribe

I am running in several adventure/obstacle 5k races this year (i.e. Warrior Dash, Austin Jailbreak, Survivor Mud Run, etc.). One is coming up in a few weeks. In each of these races there are water/mud obstacles -- what should I wear?

I don't want whatever I wear to be weighed down by the mud and water (or to be chaffed to death), so I'm thinking spandex/lycra would be a good choice, as it doesn't hold much water. Not really looking for costume ideas here, but more functional and practical attire.

Also, what shoes would be good? I have an old pair of running shoes I keep around, so I could wear those, but I hate walking in soggy shoes, let alone running in them. What about VFFs? I normally don't wear them, but was thinking about getting a pair just for the races. I don't have any experience with VFFs - tell me if you love 'em or hate 'em and why.

Any insight/recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
posted by ATX Peanut to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I did Warrior Dash last summer and I wore a sports tank top (I'm a lady) and a pair of running shorts. Didn't really feel weighed down and clean up was rather easy. Used some nice sneakers that I kept after, just washed them and they came out fine. Some friends I was with just tossed their sneakers in pile that gets recycled into tires or donated. You get muddy, but it comes off pretty easy. They have outdoor showers and nothing a good Tide run in the washing machine could get out.
posted by melizabeth at 6:47 AM on March 5, 2012

Just Facebooked a good friend of mine about the shoes...he said the VFFs are worth the investment. He does lots of hiking and jogging year-round, said he's never regretted trying them out, and thinks you'd not regret the purchase either considering the events you're going to take part in. Just make sure you've tried them on at some point and know the 'feel' of them isn't going to drive you insane. (This was my problem with them when I got out in them...but I got used to it. They just feel like water-friendly toe socks now! =D)

Good luck in the races!
posted by PeppahCat at 6:56 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

A speedo is extremely functional and practical. You can store things in the crotch area.
posted by Lord Force Crater at 7:11 AM on March 5, 2012

Ron Hill running tights always served well for muddy fell-running in the UK; this seems to be their US stockist.
posted by Abiezer at 7:18 AM on March 5, 2012

I did the Rugged Mudder wearing an underarmor style long sleeved shirt, and just regular shorts/underpants. Because of the local clay/mud, the shorts are still stained orange. There were rocks in the barbed wire/mud obstacle which cut up my knees, so maybe shorts weren't optimal?

I wore VFF's, and they were fairly comfortable/dried out quickly. However, if you're not used to running in VFF's, you probably want to get used to running in them first. There is a lot of initial calf fatigue. The VFF's didn't hose off super well, and I think I busted a seam because of the rocks.

I saw somebody else doing the thing in Merrell Trail Gloves, which seemed to hose off really well. I did some hiking through water in Merrell Trail Gloves, which held up really well and dried off quickly.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:08 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't think you want VFF's just for the race. They're not just another pair of shoes; you REALLY have to train up your muscles to run in them.
posted by kestrel251 at 8:12 AM on March 5, 2012

I ran one of these last fall and the terrain was extremely varied i.e. rocks, water, mud, tree limbs, rope, metal culvert pipe, etc. I've never used VFF before but I got to think that you need to be prepared to experience those things on your feet otherwise you are going to be in a world of hurt.
posted by mmascolino at 8:13 AM on March 5, 2012

I mountain bike/run some pretty rugged trails in VFFs and love them.

It's true that you'll want to spend some workout time getting them broken in. If you feel 'between sizes', go the size that's slightly tight. They'll conform to your feet. Simply wearing them around for a couple of days will get you a long ways towards changing your stride, then you should starting running/working out with them.

One thing to note is that there are quite a few different models. Some a barely more than swimming shoes, and other are built to stand up to pretty harsh abuse. Be sure you go for the heavier duty ones.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 8:24 AM on March 5, 2012

I wore black cotton t-shirt, black jogging shorts, my usual running shoes to a Warrior Dash in October 2011.

No chafing, did scrape up my knee/shins on the water-log-roll (ie be careful who is on the other end of the log - one person pushes down, the other side goes up..).

Not sure how you can prep for the obstacles, but it'd be worth thinking about how you'd do them. I'm not a fast runner, but made up a whole lot of position on the obstacles. (75th out of ~600 in my age group, ~500/5700 overall)

I did tape big/small toes, because they tend to rub/blister when my shoes get wet. My running shoes squish for about 20 yards after getting out the water, but then aren't that clunky to run in.

I did not feel weighed down by anything I wore.

I rained 2 days before and during the race. The folks in VFF had (IMO) much worse traction than folks in shoes. And a lot of "dainty" hopping when landing on a bad rocky bit.

Washed everything out by hand in buckets afterwards, all cleaned up fine. Shoes had a red clay tint, but otherwise no problems. (Black doesn't show stains anyway, thus my choice..)
posted by k5.user at 9:22 AM on March 5, 2012

Best answer: I run these in VFFs, but I also run regularly in them. If you haven't trained already in minimal/no-support shoes, then I would strongly recommend against it. First, there will be an adjustment period that will punish your calves severely, even if you're running on flat ground. Going out for the first (or dozenth) time for very rugged trail running would be suicide for your lower legs and feet. Second, when you trail run in vibrams, you have to develop a different kind of mindfulness for where you put your feet.

That said, I love them for that kind of race. Be sure to use the ones that strap to your foot, because the strapless ones will try to come off when you swim or run through thick mud. The only thing I hate about them is explaining over and over to people that I've run this race in them before, no I'm not going to cut my feet up, and yes my time will be better than yours ;)
posted by cmoj at 11:03 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've done the Warrior Dash (the one outside of Austin, even) and here are my thoughts:

- cmoj is totally right about Vibrams. The are the best ever for this stuff, but only if you're already accustomed to them. If you're not, they'll probably be worse than regular shoes.

- An underlayer of spandex is excellent for keeping mud out of... places. I wore spandex shorts under regular running shorts and that worked fine. (And just a t-shirt and sports bra, as per usual.) In the Warrrior Dash, at least, you don't get *soaked* in mud above the ankles until the finish line, although you will be liberally smeared in it.

- There were several occasions this year when I wished I was wearing full-length spandex rather than just shorts - the fireman's pole leaps to mind. The previous year I ran in cotton longjohns, and while they picked up and retained way too much water/mud, the protection was nice.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:24 PM on March 5, 2012

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