Whether you are new to the trails or a seasoned trail runner, you are likely going to encounter mud at some point – especially during the rainy season. Running in mud may seem like a counter-intuitive statement – after all, can you run in mud or just do your best to wade through it while holding onto your shoes? We took part in a local village race yesterday – 7.5 miles of countryside including a fair few fields. which had seen plenty of rain in the days leading up to it making the ground extremely muddy. The rain had been constant and the fields churned up. Many of us, especially those not used to the treacle conditions, found it tough – especially when coming out of the muddy fields caked in mud and trying to lift feet our up on the tarmac.

Running in mud, especially when compared to running on solid ground, presents its challenges. which inspired us to write this advice blog. Here are our top tips!

Choose the Right Shoes

Opt for trail running shoes with aggressive tread patterns and good grip. These shoes are designed to provide traction and stability on uneven and slippery surfaces, making them ideal for running in mud. The grips on trail shoes are called ‘lugs’ and you want a decent pair of lugs with another space in between to clear away the mud. Too close together and the mud will just stick. A solid rockplate, which offers foot protection, is also advisable – it’s not always easy to see what is hidden in the mud.

Our article on the best trail shoes for mud will shed some light on a few that are good at dealing with mud however, please bear in mind that there are more on the market.

Top tip – choose laces that aren’t going to come undone and make sure those laces are properly secure – losing a shoe in the mud is no laughing matter.

Think about technique

There is nothing elegant about running in mud. Your running form, and trying to look poised, is going to be the least of your worries but these techniques may just help:

Shorten Your Stride

When running in mud, shorten your stride to maintain stability and reduce the risk of slipping. Keep your feet low to the ground and focus on quick, light steps to navigate through the mud more efficiently.

Maintain Balance

Pay attention to your balance and core stability while running in mud. Keep your torso upright and engage your core muscles to help you stay centred and prevent falls.

Use Your Arms

Use your arms for balance and momentum. Swing them slightly wider than usual to help you maintain stability and propel yourself forward through the slippery terrain.

Look Ahead

Keep your gaze focused a few feet ahead to anticipate changes in the terrain and adjust your footing accordingly. Avoid staring down at the mud directly in front of you, as this can disrupt your balance and slow you down.

Choose Your Route Wisely

When possible, try to avoid the deepest or stickiest patches of mud by choosing the firmest and most stable route available. Look for areas with grass, leaves, or rocks that may offer better traction than pure mud. In a recent race, while ascending a hill, at times, it seemed like I was going backwards so I chose to run up through the stream that was flowing down the hill – I got soaked but I got up quicker than those around me and I wasn’t slipping all over the place. Sometimes though, you don’t have much option but to run straight through it which brings us on to our next point:

Embrace the Mud

We have run a race called the Sodbury Slog many times – there is a sheep dip involved, a waist-high river and more mud than you can ever imagine. Accept that you will get dirty while running in mud and embrace the experience. Relax and enjoy the challenge of navigating through the muddy terrain, knowing that it’s all part of the adventure. If you fall over, you are going to have a soft landing so try not to fret too much.

Stay Flexible

Be prepared to adapt your pace and technique based on the condition of the mud. Some sections may be easier to run through than others, so stay flexible and adjust your speed and stride length as needed. Slow down when you need to and take advantage of the stretches where you can speed up and gain some ground.

Practice Makes Perfect

The more you run in mud, the better you’ll become at navigating through it. Take every opportunity to practice running in different types of mud and challenging terrain to improve your skills and confidence. Don’t avoid it – embrace it.

Invest in a good body scrub – if your feet are going to get covered in mud and muddy water, your feet are going to get muddy too. I have a good exfoliating scrub and a pumice for getting rid of the mud post-run. You can also try Vaseline or baby oil on your skin to make it easier to wash off.

Safety First

Always prioritize safety while running in mud. Be cautious of hidden obstacles beneath the surface, such as rocks or branches, and watch out for slippery spots that could cause you to lose your footing. If the mud is particularly treacherous or unsafe, consider walking or finding an alternative route. When you find yourself climbing over stiles in the middle of a race or crossing wooden bridges, be careful not to slip – especially if many have been before you. Also, don’t wear valuables, secure your belongings and consider popping anything you carry in a belt or backpack in a waterproof bag or case.

Wash your hands after running in mud – you don’t know what you might pick up when climbing over stiles etc.

Have any funny stories to tell about running in mud? Want to share your top tips? We’d welcome your feedback.