NEW YORK — Participation in mud runs and obstacle courses is growing by leaps and bounds. With that come some carefully plotted training schedules, with extra sprints up neighborhood hills and well-balanced diets that revolve around trail mix and vitamin-infused water.
But did you think about the wardrobe?
You probably should. The right clothes and gear make the difference in performance, comfort — and the cute Facebook photo you’ll want to post at the end of the day, say product developers and seasoned recreational athletes.
Eileen Berner, marketing director for insulator PrimaLoft, is a self-described “weekend warrior” who does obstacle races and climbs mountains and ice in her spare time.
“Clothing is one of the first key decisions you are making in one of these events. You’ve checked the weather forecast, but the race starts out and you’re running up a ski mountain and sweating when it’s still cool and by the afternoon, it’s really hot,” Berner says.
“The best gear is the gear that when you come back from the event, you weren’t cold or hot or have blisters,” she says.
For Margaret Schlacter of Salt Lake City, a regular on the Spartan Race circuit, that means nothing cotton. “I made the awful mistake the first time and wore cute cotton yoga capri pants, cotton underwear and a cute cotton T-shirt. After the swimming portion of the race, I had to roll the yoga pants into shorts and keep peeling the shirt away from my body.”
Synthetic fabrics not only help take care of the moisture and regulate temperature better, but they also dry quickly, resist stains and don’t retain as much odor, says Greg Thomsen, managing director of Adidas Outdoor. “You’re looking for anything that can help you perform at a higher level.”
This new generation of fitness buffs likes outdoor workouts, so makers of athleticwear had already started making the shift to moisture-moving and water-repellent materials, says Susan Branch, global head of products for Roxy.
Women also want sun protection, mesh ventilation and pockets since they might not be ending where they started, Branch adds.
“The things to look for if you’re going to be in a boot camp or mud run or mini-triathlon are really things that are fairly common these days and available.”
Her other recommendations are slim, body-hugging silhouettes for ease of movement that don’t snag on obstacles and wider bra straps for support.
Something else athletes might want are flat-locked seams because they reduce chaffing, she adds.