At this time of year, my weekends typically involve mud running and cross country races.
Only a few weeks ago it looked promising that some sort of mud activity was likely and indeed, several mud events and obstacle course races have gone ahead within COVID-19 guidelines.
However, after a steady decline of coronavirus cases since the first peak in April 2020, confirmed cases started rising again in July, with the rate of growth increasing sharply from the end of August.
At midnight on 16 October 2020, London moved into Tier 2 (high alert) coronavirus restrictions, with Londoner’s banned from mixing between households indoors, in restaurants and pubs.
Other parts of the UK, particularly the North West, North East and Yorkshire regions moved into Tier 3 (very high) restrictions.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said it is “almost certain that the epidemic continues to grow exponentially across the country”.
Also, on 16 October, England Athletics published a guidance update for restricted return to activity for coaches, leaders, athletes and facilities.
While England Athletics continues to promote the benefits of safe exercise, club activity and competition, it is highly unlikely that a 2020/21 cross county season will happen or that mass participation trail races or mud events will take place before Easter 2021.
Both the Surrey Cross Country League and South of England Athletic Association have upcoming races for the season ‘to be confirmed.’
Nevertheless, with a lack of exciting mud events on the immediate horizon, there are numerous ways to make the most of the gifts of nature.
Mud for healing and rejuvenation
The healing power of mud and other minerals have been known for millennia.
As Natural Health Practitioner, Galina St George explains in her book Earth’s Humble Healers, minerals are the source of life on Earth; we need them in order to live; every fluid and solid matter in our body contains minerals; and every cell in our body needs minerals to function and reproduce.
Galina St George describes how the idea of using muds as well as clays and salts as the main source of minerals to improve health and enhance beauty is not new.
For centuries muds have been used for medical applications, therapeutic and cosmetic properties; clays were used by Roman soldiers to heal wounds and disinfect water; and clays are widely known to neutralise poisons, deal with wounds, food poisoning and hunger.
The complex combination of salts and minerals in mud (kaolinite, bentonite, magnesium, potassium, and others) are known to draw toxins out of the body, boost the immune system, tone skin, relieve joint pain and treat rheumatic diseases.
The popularity of thermal springs and mud baths such as Lago di Venere in Pantelleria, Italy; Dead Sea in Israel; Baden-Baden in Germany; Calistoga in California; spa baths in Budapest, Hungary; and the Monihei Carnival at Cangyuan, in China’s Yunnan Province, are in no small part due to the potent minerals and enzymes in mud and spring waters that can help restore a youthful appearance, increase vitality, stimulate blood flow and lymphatic system cleansing, relaxation, and improve physical health and wellbeing.
Given COVID-19 restrictions, travelling is not an option for many of us. However, you do not need to go far to dig in the dirt, dilute some clay and pretend you are somewhere in Baden-Baden; or simply buy mud and slather yourself with sulfuric-smelling ooze.
While we wait for the resumption of mud running and cross country races, weekends for me over the next few months will involve some combination of training/running in as much mud as possible, and taking mud indoors – nourishing myself with mud and clay treatments (AHAVA’s dead sea body mud and Clarins SOS Pure clay mask are favorites) and bath salts.
Wishing everyone safe exercise, health and wellbeing during this unusual time.