Running a marathon is an exciting and exhilarating experience – but that hasn’t stopped fun and interesting alternatives from gaining popularity.

As big a part of my life as the IT world is, it’s not the only thing I think about. I also happen to be an avid fitness enthusiast! I believe exercise and wellness are big parts of leading a happy, healthy, and successful life, and I’d like to pass that on to you.

In this series, I’ll share simple and effective tips and insight for leading a healthier life. Keep these in mind, and you’ll be surprised by how soon you feel a difference!

This week I’ll be sharing a couple of new takes on the traditional marathon format for the more adventurous fitness enthusiast.

For most runners, the ultimate goal is to build up your strength and endurance in order to be able to take part in a marathon, and actually make it across the finish line. For some, the thrill of qualifying for the Boston Marathon or another big and well-known event is all they need to get their adrenaline going. For others?

Well, some runners have found some interesting ways to add a new challenge to an old-fashioned 5K.

There are a few different spins on a traditional marathon format out there for you to try, but the two most popular variations are the Mud Run and the Zombie Run.

Less about speed and distance and more about pushing yourself to see just what you’re capable of while having a whole lot of fun, both of these formats offer unique challenges to participants that you won’t find anywhere else.

Mud Runs are part marathon, part obstacle course, and heavily encourage teamwork between friends and strangers in order to make sure everyone reaches the end. Ranging anywhere from fun run-style 5Ks to epic 10-mile endurance tests, a typical Mud Run has participants clambering over, under, and through military-esque obstacles like walls, army crawls, overhead bars, and more, with mud pits scattered throughout the course.

You’ll find yourself running or jogging along a dirt track course through open fields or brush, waiting to see what challenges are waiting for you up ahead. There’s always someone there to help you conquer the next obstacle, so no one gets left behind – and it’s guaranteed that no one will cross the finish line without seriously needing a good hose down.

One of the biggest reasons Mud Runs are as hugely popular is because of how inclusive they are. You don’t need to be in peak shape to take part, making them a great choice for beginners and a fun option for team building exercises, birthday celebrations, or something interesting to do with your Saturday.

Unlike a basic marathon, Mud Runs test more than just your ability to run. The more competitive courses force you to rely on not just your endurance, but your upper body strength as well as you haul yourself and other runners over and under obstacles.

Zombie Runs, on the other hand, are more geared towards a specific group of people. Depending on the event, Zombie Runs can function more like a typical 5K with runners following a regular flat route, or take on Mud Run characteristics by sending you over obstacles or through wooded paths.

Runners are given flags along with their participant number, and just like in flag football, the goal is to finish with your flag intact. Only in this scenario, you’re running for your life from a horde of brain-hungry undead. Folks in bloody makeup are there to chase after the runners, motivating you to hightail it to a safer part of the route. Your time doesn’t matter much here – the only thing you’re trying to accomplish is to keep your flag until you hit the finish line.

Zombie Runs are typically team events, and unless the thought of being chased gives you anxiety, they’re a ton of fun for everyone regardless of your fitness level. As an added bonus, if you’re looking for a more casual way to test your limits, a Zombie 5K is a great option. You can track your own time along the route to see how you’re progressing, or just use it as an opportunity to see how you feel once the race is over.

Whether you’re a casual runner looking for a fun activity to try, or you’re looking for a more competitive means of testing your limits, a Mud Run or Zombie Run might be just what you’ve been waiting for – and besides, running with a friend is always a lot more fun.

For more information, join Central Florida Fitness Tips or get in touch with me right away at (407) 409-7519 or

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