The Mechanics of Mud Running: 5 Tips

1. Comfortable Kicks

Shoe companies will tell you there’s a shoe for every occasion and weather. Things like lug pattern, water proof-ness and drop. But in my book there’s only two: shoes you feel fast in (lightweight, low drop, and a badass color way) and “SUVs” (cushy, durable, built for the long haul). As you might imagine, running in bad weather and mud (or snow) is for SUV shoes. It might sound counterintuitive; a light shoe will make you more fleet of foot and help you step more quickly—instead of sink—in mud and muck. This approach actually does work…for maybe the first 1-2 minutes of your run. After that, no matter how light the shoe is, it inevitably becomes heavy and stout just like the durable SUV shoe. My suggestion: save the fast shoes for dry days when you’re ready to fly on the trails and run the SUVs on days they’re intended for: the slow, muddy slog.

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2. Sweat Your Socks

Point #1 illustrates that when mud is involved, any shoe – no matter the size or weight – will essentially take on the environment (pun intended) and be neutralized. But where there’s mud there is usually snow or puddles. These elements will eventually saturate the shoes’ upper and soak your socks. As the wetness sets in, it’s your sock selection that will have a bigger impact on your running enjoyment. It’s no wonder we’re partial to wool, but in muddy conditions it’s a fiber that is blister-preventing and softer than a synthetic running sock. Use a tall sock or one with a 3-5” cuff rather than no-shows to get extra abrasion resistance to your ankles and legs.

3. The Unusual Sore Spots

Trail running, compared to road, comes with demands on DSC09694different muscle groups. Muddy trail training adds another variability since balance and foot fall is so inconsistent. But the soreness and muscle activation is worth it! The sensations you’ll feel—typically in your feet, ankles and calves—will wake up proprioceptors (the stimuli your body gets from impact and agile motion) that will help with balance and injury-prevention when conditions are normalized in the drier spring, summer and fall.

4. One Less Layer

When you’re in muddy conditions you’re probably going to be working harder than a dry run so aim to dress for higher-than-average sweat rate; and even though the air temperature might be chilly, shorts or 3-quarter length tights are recommended over pants. Combined with tall socks (see #2), you’ll move through the muck with more ease while keeping the abrasion-factor low.

5. Ankle Weights = Strength

Resistance training in running is not the most common thing, especially in trail running where vertical gain in the landscape comes with the sensation of resistance all by itself. Some runners (usually racers) might wear a loaded-up pack or run with poles to add resistance weight or better distribute the energy to the arms when training for an event. But running in mud adds an accumulation of weight and resistance to your shoes which will make you move more slowly and require more energy. This “natural resistance” is a fast and free way to add leg strength and force you to adopt a new cadence (generally one that adds efficiency since your body will be looking to offset the weight). This is a great way to examine your stride and look for new, efficient ways to move that might actually improve your dry-trail performance, too.

Try Packing Something New

I’m always willing to try out new gear, but to be honest, most of the time, I know exactly what I’m going to pack for a given trip. I have a few tried-and-true staples that have never let me down, and more often than not, I throw them in my backpack without thinking twice. I’ve spent most of my adult life working in the outdoors and spending most of my free time there, too, so I think I’ve earned the right to be picky about what I wear in the field. It’s rare that a new piece of gear makes its way into the fold.

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Photo: Emma Walker

As I packed my bags for a recent trip to Mexico to climb Pico de Orizaba, I tossed my brand-new Ibex Indie Hoody onto the pile. Full disclosure: I’ve long been a fan of lightweight, inexpensive synthetic base layers, but I figured anyone stuck in a tent with me would appreciate that Merino wool doesn’t stink like synthetics. (In fact, lucky for my tentmates, this held true throughout the trip.) My favorite features: Merino wool is really soft. I have pretty sensitive skin (and accompanying miserable memories of itchy rashes caused by the wool layers of my childhood!), but this layer was super comfortable next to my skin, even when I wore (and sweated in) it four days in a row. It also didn’t chafe on my shoulders or hips under the weight of a super-heavy mountaineering pack—no uncomfortable rashes or weird imprints on my skin. The hood actually fits under a helmet! Hoods are so often too bulky to fit under a climbing helmet, but not quite big enough to wear over. The Indie hood is snug enough to fit comfortably under a helmet and keep my ears warm without uncomfortable seams or tags.

Walker_Orizaba summit

Photo: Elizabeth Williams

It really did help me regulate temperature. Weather at high altitude is notoriously finicky; we often experienced fog and graupel, followed by glaring sun and a spike in temperature, all within the span of ten or fifteen minutes. But I didn’t have to keep adjusting my layers. Even when sweaty, my Indie kept me reasonably warm, and when the sun came out, it wasn’t blisteringly hot. Thumb holes and the 9.5-inch zipper also make it easy to make this baselayer warmer or cooler as needed. The smell factor—I can’t emphasize this enough. Since we live in base layers for days or sometimes even weeks between washings, they can get pretty ripe. I’m not saying my Indie still smelled like roses when I got home to do laundry, but I found it had significantly less odor than my base layers typically do. Also, unlike most of my synthetic base layers, it didn’t retain a trace of the smell after washing.

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The Indie was just as good biking in Moab

The weekend after I got back from climbing Orizaba, I headed to Moab for a weekend of mountain biking with some friends. Springtime in the desert means warm days and chilly nights, so the Indie was a no-brainer. I wore it to keep the sun off my arms on a 65-degree day in the sun, and four hours of hard biking later, I was still perfectly comfortable. It literally performed as well in the desert as it did on a glacier at nearly 18,500 feet. The Indie Hoody has made its way to the top of my packing list, regardless of the destination.

The Changing Climate of Powder Chasing

As scientists around the world continue recording the warming of the earth’s atmosphere and oceans, winter sports enthusiasts start getting nervous. What will winters look like in the future and how will that affect those powder days we all love? To get some answers, we talked to someone whose career is all about forecasting skiing conditions.

Who are you, where do you live, and what do you do?

My name is Joel Gratz. I was obsessed with skiing and weather from the age of four. I went to Penn State to study meteorology, then attended grad school at CU Boulder, and started a snow forecasting email list in 2007. A decade later, that email list has turned into OpenSnow, a website and mobile app on which I and other forecasters direct over 2 million skiers to the best snow.

Joel Gratz

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Meet the Designers Behind Ibex

There’s so much that goes into making a single garment, much less an entire product line. For our designers, their inspiration is built into the threads of each product. So what drives them to source the finest in innovative materials? How do they bring magic to the process of producing the finest Merino wool active and casual wear on the planet?

We spoke with three of our designers to find out.

Read on to find out more and then join these designers in our Boston, Seattle and Denver stores where they will share their inspiration first-hand (and a drink!), and listen to your feedback. You can be one of the first to see the all-new pieces for this spring and summer, and get a first-hand account from the designers themselves about everything that went into creating this unique collection. Event details below.

Designers
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How You Can Advocate for Public Lands

Rather than bury this resource deep in a story, let’s get straight to the point: Our public lands are threatened in a major way right now. Go here to email, snail mail, call, fax (search Google for “fax machine near me” for a laugh) your congress person to let them know how critical public lands are to our way of life. For us at Ibex this issue is especially critical; it’s even written in our own manifesto (see: Why Ibex challenges itself to make responsible decisions). You simply can’t put a price on these lands.

So, seriously. Leave this page. Now. What are you waiting for?

Now, once that is done, we invite you to keep reading. We don’t have to remind you of the impact the presidential election has had on this conversation but it certainly tees up a reminder to pay attention to how we got here and where we’re headed if we don’t stand up to the pressure.

How We Got Here

The United States National Park Service celebrated its one hundred year anniversary last year. It was an auspicious mile marker and signaled a public desire not only to explore the great lands of our once young country but also to preserve the magnificent landscapes, wildlife and natural resources that had been discovered in the process. The protection of public lands was built on a premise that has gone unchanged: our country’s resources should be used to serve the greatest good of the people. The “good” in this equation being the intrinsic need all creatures on this earth have to enjoy nature in ways big and small, inwardly and outwardly.

In 1872 Yellowstone National Park was declared the world’s first national park.

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Enjoy the Flavor of Vermont

Vermont is home to some of the oldest ski areas in the United States. They crisscross the big, rolling mountains with runs that cut through the seemingly endless New England hardwood forests. It’s this unique combination of pioneering ski history and the abundance of maple trees that creates the unique flavor of skiing found only in the great state of Vermont.

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Maple syrup is a springtime ritual in Vermont. PC: John Atkinson

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The Ibex CloseKnit Weaves Social Responsibility Into Company Culture

The fibers of Ibex’s relationships–with our farmers, manufacturers, designers, among our staff, and with our customers–are woven into every product that leaves the factory. In the fall of 2016, the Ibex leadership established CloseKnit, an employee-run corporate social responsibility committee that aspires to strengthen these bonds and create new ones.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. To friends of Ibex, the formation of CloseKnit comes as no surprise: the company’s core values of making great product while taking care of the people and places around them are fertile soil for social engagement.

This year, the CloseKnit team will focus their energy on three projects that will illuminate the company’s mission of building Merino wool clothing for people pursuing adventures outside.  

close knit team

Left to right: Caitlin Quinn, Returns & Warranty Manager; Chelsea Pawlek, Supply Chain Manager; Michael Logan, Dealer Services; Keith Anderson, VP of Marketing; Regan Betts, Director of Brand; Lori Charlonne, Graphic Designer; Misti Martin Berry, Sr. Product Manager; Jake Quigley, Dealer Services; Dogs: Vaida, Rusty, Wiley

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Inside the The Renewal Workshop with Founder Jeff Denby

“We truly believe that companies who participate early in the development of a circular economy are going to have a competitive advantage.”
-Jeff Denby, co-founder of The Renewal Workshop
Jeff Denby holds an Ibex + TRW garment

With over a decade of combined experience in the apparel supply chain business, Jeff Denby and Nicole Bassett were used to visiting factories, not owning one. This all changed when the duo pivoted their career tracks and opened The Renewal Workshop (TRW), a business designed to improve the sustainability of the garment industry, particularly with the brands whose ethos and products exist for outdoor application.

Get to know Jeff’s story in this quick interview; at Ibex we are thrilled to have TRW as a pillar of our sustainability portfolio.

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Badass Outdoor Women

As part of Women’s History Month, Ibex’s web developer, Amanda Kievet shared with us some of the women who inspired her. These portraits illustrate 9 badass women, who’ve inspired all through their feats as mountaineers, environmentalists and bicyclists.

Annie Smith Peck

Annie Smith Peck (1850-1935) — American mountaineer, lecturer and writer. She ascended Matterhorn wearing pants and a long tunic, prompting public debate about what women should do and can be.

Heather Anish Anderson

Heather “Anish” Anderson (1981) — American hiker and ultra runner. She set the Appalachian Trail un-supported speed record in 2015 finishing in just 54 days, 7 hours, 48 mins.

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3 Steps for Springing Forward in Style

DJC_3126You must have noticed it. Light in the sky where only a month ago was darkness. A gentle warming of the air. The first bird song in the trees. There are changes happening as we move toward spring, most noticeable with our calendar’s time change.

Setting our clocks ahead may be perfunctory, but this is the time of the year to be renewed, enthusiastic and inspired. Don’t just mumble about an hour less sleep on Saturday night. Instead, find a more optimistic motto and “Spring Forward!”

In the natural cycle, spring is the dawn after a long night, the moment of birth. This is a time brimming with potential. In his book, “Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature,” Jon Young describes this as a time to look ahead with energetic plans, where the horizon is limitless with possibility.

Perhaps we have it all wrong when we make resolutions on the eve of the new calendar year? Instead, we should be setting our goals for the year on the eve of this time change. If we adopted this as a new tradition, what goals would you set for yourself this spring? Here’s help on getting started.
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Ibex Community Profile: Lisa Roberts on the Importance of International Women’s Day

We put out a simple query to the Ibex community: who is a woman in your life you want to publicly celebrate for International Women’s Day? We could’ve honored a pro athlete or other well-recognized person but our goal was to give shine to the women in our community who are kicking ass at a high level in everyday life. We think we struck gold with our winning recipient, Lisa Roberts.

Let’s meet her.

Tell us who you are and where you live? 

Lisa_2I live in Elverson, Pennsylvania. I am a wife, a mother to two amazing boys, a sister to three brothers, and a friend to many.

Are you an athlete? An artist? A professional?

I’m a full-time systems engineer in the defense industry.

I have been skiing, ice skating, biking, whitewater rafting and hiking since I was a child. I try to seize every opportunity to get outside. It could be a family night hike after a long week at work or a quick mountain bike ride before picking up the kids, there is nothing better than breathing in fresh air and drinking in nature to balance and rejuvenate me.

My family and I also volunteer. We make meals and deliver food and gifts to the underprivileged, homebound and, in some cases, homeless. This year I also volunteered to lead training rides for my older son’s mountain bike team.

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The Atmospheric River: Adaptability in California’s Sierra Nevada

Words and photos by Ibex Advocate Jake Young

In early January of 2017, one of the largest storms of the past ten years struck California. The storm brought fierce precipitation causing floods, mudslides, and falling trees, but it also helped California escape one its most severe droughts on record. As the storm moved across the Central Valley, it ascended the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and started to dump a heavy blanket of snow across the entire mountain range. There was no other option but to seek out this fresh pow for an epic four-day weekend of resort and backcountry skiing.

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With dreams of fresh powder on our minds, we left the San Francisco Bay Area at 4:30AM Friday morning of MLK weekend to avoid the gridlock caused by fellow snow seekers. There was actually so much snow that the main highway accessing Kirkwood Mountain was closed causing us to take a longer alternate route. As some of the first people on the lifts, the early morning depart and detour were well worth the trouble.

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