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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

OMG! What to do for a Ragnar?

Ragnar races are a special breed of relays. I have been lucky to do 3 this year - with Tough Chik and 2 (eek - ultras) with Bondi Band! The ones I have done are point-to-point with 1 (if you are crazy and doing and ultra) or 2 vans. So much fun, but there is a little prep work involved.
How do you train?  

You need to prep for the mileage. In my first Ragnar, I had a fair bit of mileage - 18 miles planned. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t have a huge amount of time to prep for Ragnar SoCal in April – only 3 weeks, but I was in the throes of marathon training, so I thought, Oh I will be fiiiine. I was. I had been putting lots of miles on and running 4x a week. Heck, I even added on an extra leg at the end to help out a teammate.

But I did learn that running "doubles" is a good idea. Run two runs a day a few times before the race. And, once I knew I was going to do an Ultra - double the miles, double the fun - I did em on Saturday. As in: I ran Saturday morning, Saturday evening then Sunday morning again! Or any variation thereof. Weeee. Once my mileage got high (and I was running 10 miles plus 10k plus 10k or more) it got tiring, but I swear it is the best bloody training ESPECIALLY for an Ultra. (I was able to step in at the last minute and join an ultra team in September with virtually no issues). Your legs need that training, and so does your head, and the voice that says ‘but I am sooo tired”.

Some folks say get your runs in during the heat of the day, if you aren’t acclimatized to the heat. But I live in Canada, so I say run whenever you can.

And, eat well. ESPECIALLY for ultra teams. Trust me. You don’t want bathroom issues. No junk. No booze (for me) and drink ALL the water. Pamper your body. Get a massage. Keep in fine form. Besides the training part, you gotta roll and stretch (in training to keep away the niggles and ESPECIALLY during a Ragnar race! You are in a van with 6 others for a whole lotta hours! There can be cramping.

Lastly, read the Ragnar Bible. If you have never done a relay, it really does help you get a sense of how the event works. Basiclaly if you do any bigger relay, just read the rule. CRAZY thought, I know. But it  I amazing how many people do not know the rules. Just be prepared, I say.

Now onto Packing. WHAT the hell to pack?

THREE  running outfits (top, sports bra, shorts, socks, whatever YOU run in). Afterwards put the outfit into a gallon-size ziploc bags.  Best idea EVER to do this. I actually “pre-package each outfit into the bag. Saves space and makes grabbing the next clean, dry outfit easy.

A minimum of TWO pairs of shoes.  You have 3 or 6 (crazy ultra talk) legs in 36 hours. You’ll want dry shoes that are not pounded down by your feet from your last run 8 hours ago.
Comfy non-running Clothes to chill or sleep in.   
Recovery Shoes – flipflops/crocs/barefooters – for after the run
Recovery tools – a roller “ball” or stick to roll out and help recovery for your next leg. If you have room pack Mr. Foamie!
Compression – socks or sleeves – your calves will thank you. I wore mine the whole time for each of my races. I love my CEP Compression! And for fun, Bondi makes some great ones too. Though I did change em out to match outfits.

Hydration – a handheld, a belt or a vest. No matter how short a leg is, you NEED water. Especially if it is a long distance or warm out. Seriously.

Favourite Headgear – sunglasses, bondi band, hat/ visor, buff – keep the sun and sweat at bay. Jacket – Either a windbreaker to run in, a jacket for after runs or at night - you will need this.

Blanket – roll it up as a pillow or use for stretching out outside the van.
Accessories - iPod, headphones, sportswatch, race number belt/spi belt, etc
Reflective Gear - you gotta have a reflective vest, head lamp, flashing reflector light

Don't Forget: electronic device chargers, ice packs, KT tape, anti chafe crèmes, ibuprofen

What’s in the Van?

Water. You need a water plan. Your van needs to have enough for your team. My last team (6 of us on Ragnar ADK) consumed 100 bottles in 2 days!

Nutrition. gels, chomps, chews, beans, energybits. Pick your poison and have em ready for EVERY leg. You never know when you might need them. I use Energybits to run with, but in the middle of the night, I take em for a wee bit of energy boost or mental clarity! Find what works for you.

Electrolytes. Yes water is great. but you also need some electrolytes. I love Nuun and Vega. Just make sure you carry it.

Wash Up with Baby Wipes or ShowerPill Athletic Body Wipes. Show your van mates (and yourself) some fresh clean love. trust me. You don’t want to be all nasty in your dried out sweat for 36 hours.

Food - Be prepared. You might not really be able to stop for lunch or dinner. And do you really want junk food? Have some good staples - PB, trail mix, Chocolate Milk, Almond Milk, Protein shake mix, Bread, etc - handy! My favs include anything -Vega - pre and post run rocks!

Snacks – salty, sweet -   I also find it’s a good idea to get a sense of what your team might buy, so you can bring anything else you personally want.  My faves include pretzels, beef jerky, dried fruit!

Van Decorations.  *do this Pre-race- obviously! Many teams decorate their vans — show your team spirit! Team Gear - shirts? skirts? matching gear? A team look is fun  - always good for recognition.

I really love a relay race - all the people, all the cheering!

I have done several kinds. Point-to-Point, ones that all loop around to a central location, trail, road .... and every one was freaking awesome You suffer together and you laugh your asses off - and make some amazing friends along the way. You cheer other teams on, you find out that you do have what it takes to be a freaking rock star.

What Ragnars have you done?
Got a fav Relay?
Or do you think there could be nothing worse than being in a van with 6 other peeps?
(if so,  you should try it you'd love it)


  1. You are a relay queen! Such great tips. I remember loving the outfits in ziploc bags so much. Nothing to search for!

  2. Hope you have a great time! I can't wait to read all about it. I'm doing my first Ragnar in February and I'm so excited!

  3. And how did it go? Your readers want to know! (Sorry I wrote this comment on the one below in error!)