Tomorrow at 6(ish)AM I will be embarking on my 9th Ragnar Relay.
It seems like only yesterday I was a Ragnar Relay newbie heading to New Haven (which back in the day the course was from New Haven, CT to Boston, MA) to meet 5 strangers, whom had also signed up to be part of Van #2. Soon, though, my fears dissipated and by the end of my 36 or so hours – these strangers became my teammates and friends.
This weekend my Ragnar Relay adventure will take me from Hull, MA to Providencetown, MA, and when all is said and done, myself and 5 other runners will have covered about 200miles (depending on if we don’t get lost) in about 36 or so hours.
Not content to complete a regular Ragnar Relay (which is 12 people in 2 vans running, running 3 times (or legs) from Friday to Saturday) – I have signed on to be a part of the Ultra Team “Sexy, Sexy Cheetahs” (recap soon). So, instead of running three legs, when all is said and done I will have run 6 times.
There are tons of Ragnar Relay tips if you scour the web (many of which I incorporate). These include bringing a zip-locked bag with a “fresh” running outfits for every leg, a large can Frabeze for the van, and two pairs of running shoes in case it rains.
SO – with hundred like minded crazy runners heading up to Hull tonight and tomorrow morning I thought it would be a good time to impart some of my “Ragnar Wisdom” to newbies and vetrans alike.
Top 10 Ragnar Relay Running Tips
1. Leave Your Ego Outside The Van—–Yes, you will be tired and you will be awake (or mostly awake) for at least 24-36 hours depending on how speedy your team is. It’s during these early morning hours when you might get one person who is cranky or just not with the program. Don’t let them bring you down. If they don’t want to share their food or get mad because the rest of the van wants to sleep instead of taking a shows (both true stories), that’s on them.
2. Embrace The Early Morning Runs—–During my first Ragnar Relay (when the route was from New Haven, CT to Boston) my third “leg” (or run) was just as the sun was rising somewhere in Massachussets. I had not been running for long and heard about this “runner’s high” but never experienced it until that morning. It’s quite intoxicating and I have had several similar experiences, specifically a night run through the Everglades (Ragnar Keys), a sunset run through the dessert (Ragnar Del Sol), and seeing the sun rise over Lake Michigan (Ragnar Chicago).
3. You Know The Rule Nothing New On Race Day —–Same Holds True For Ragnar. This is not my first rodeo and I know what works for me (low fiber foods, carbs and beef jerkey) and what does not (beans and greasy food). There is nothing worse then having stomach cramps (or worse) while being stuck in a van with 5 people (whom you may or may not know) and then being expected to run. Sometimes “boring” foods are the best. Save that beer for after you are done with Ragnar!
4. Related—–Bring Food That Travels Well and Drink PLENTY of Water. To me beef jerky is the one of the most compact fuel sources (salty and protein right) along with pretzels, oranges and gummy bears are my go too fuel sources because they are compact and don’t need refrigeration. You are going to be tired and your appetite is going to possibly get out of whack but remember to drink water and eat small meals throughout the relay. It’s the best way to stay nourished.
5. Bring Your Recovery Tools With You —–Foam Rollers, The Stick and Compression attire can be your best friends. You are going to be in a cramped van before and after your runs AND THEN expected to run again. That is a sure fire way to develop cramps and possible strains. Yes – you will be sore, but try and be a little pro-active between your runs so that on Sunday you are not having to walk backwards down stairway.
6. Sorry, But You Might Not Get Along With Everybody —–This goes in line with Tip #1. As try as you might you are probably not going to get along with everyone and that’s ok. Just make sure you aren’t “that guy/gal.”
7. Bring Toilet Paper With You—–I hate to say it but there will be at least one instance where you are headed to a port a potty at 3AM and there is nary a square to spare. Be Prepared!
8. If Your Team Is Able To —–A Driver Is Clutch. I have been on teams where we have had a driver and also those where I am looking for the next exchange at 5am – not fun. Driver’s are rock stars to a Ragnar Relay team! They allow runners to recover and rest – two key things. Just remember – treat your driver nice, he/she is providing your team with an invaluable service! Make sure you reward him/her (or at least give them a small break)
9. Bring Comforable Running Clothes. It’s not a fashion show. Don’t go and buy the most expensive and flashiest gear. This harkens back to Tip #3 – new items (shoes included) are the surest way to have an uncomfortable experience. This even holds true for your down time between runs – comfortable shorts, flip flops and clean t-shirts – can make your down time a bit more enjoyable.
10. And Lastly – Remember – You Will Be Tired BUT Take a Moment and Enjoy The Experience. Yes we are a bit crazy to sign up to run a relay that requires us to stay awake for most of the weekend BUT in all the years of running – I have never regretted signing up and participating. These are unique experiences and I know that without running a Ragnar Relay I would not have had some unique experiences and met some pretty awesome people.
SO – enjoy! Find Your Inner Wild this weekend! And Remember – you can sleep on Sunday!