How to Train for Reebok Ragnar Relay Adirondacks
One of the first races that I put on my bucket list when I started running was the Ragnar Relay. I remember scrolling through Instagram and noticing this ridiculously fun looking overnight running adventure that I knew I just had to be a part of.
After a quick Google search I realized that not only was there more than one location but there was one pretty close to me in the Adirondack Mountains – about 4 or so hours away from where I live.
SO, I made it my goal to find myself a team for that fall (when the race happens) and cross it off my list…which is exactly what I did.
At first, I was petrified that I had gotten myself into something impossible. Running 200 miles with 12 people sounded like more of a challenge than even I thought I could handle. I did everything I could to make sure I was prepared and come to find out, it wasn’t nearly as impossible as I feared.
In fact, the race is designed so that most levels of runner can participate. Still, it requires some training since you will be running 3 times in two days on practically NO sleep. Seriously, like no sleep. If you’re curious as to how the actual relay goes, please check out my Ragnar Relay Adirondacks 2014 Recap.
My point is, it’s incredibly important that you don’t go in underprepared and have a realistic expectation of the demand that is required of your body. Since the race is almost 2 months away and this will be my 4th year in a row running Ragnar Adirondacks, I figured I’d offer some specific tips on how exactly to go about training for it.
Know your legs.
Once you’ve joined a team you’ll then either be pick or be assigned a runner position that includes 3 legs. Each of the distances for these 3 legs typically vary though the middle leg is always considered your “night leg” or run. Once you know the breakdown of each of your legs and the distances, check the course map to see what it involves. Note the longest distance you’ll have to run and focus on building mileage based on it. Also, since it IS the Adirondacks and it IS a mountain range and all, you best believe it’ll probably include some level of elevation gain.
Train for hills.
Speaking of hills, it’s probably no surprise that you should be training for them…you did sign up for a Ragnar Relay in the Adirondacks, after all. The best way to train for hills is well, running hills but if you happen to live in an area that isn’t quite so hilly then strength training is key.
For more information on how to specifically train for hills, check out my post that breaks it down and explains how to master hill running.
Run twice a day.
Once you have established a plan (which by the way, Pear Sports Training App offers Ragnar specific plans), you’ll want to add in two-a-day runs once you’ve built up your base mileage to get your body used to that type of demand. About 5 or so weeks out from the race, you should start adding in runs in the AM and in the PM (preferably in the dark as you would during the relay) to train your legs with shorter recovery time in between. These runs don’t have to be all out, in fact they should be at an easy effort. Typically I’ve done about 4-5 miles in the morning and then another 4-5 miles at night. Be sure to recover (roll out, hydrate, refuel) as you would while running Ragnar. Speaking of…
Another vital component of running any sort of long distance is fueling properly. You wouldn’t fuel with random foods/gels/chews the day or your marathon and you shouldn’t do it right before you run a Ragnar Relay either. Practice and experiment with different types of fuel as you train to see how your body reacts to them as you run. Mind you, you’ll also be getting little sleep which can also affect digestion so seeing what your body can tolerate really is key.
Add in some musical motivation.
Safety is key first and foremost on these runs but in order to get through some of the longer legs you might want to make yourself a motivational playlist (like my Hill Pusher Playlist) to keep you going until you hit that One Mile to Go sign. Seeing that sign usually kicks me into high gear and it’s all I need to get me to the end of my leg 😉
Ragnar is unlike your typical races. It’s really not about the destination as much as it is about the journey and creating an adventure together. When I recall each of the Ragnar races I’ve done, the medal and our finish time is not what comes to mind. It’s the memories, laughs and pure ridiculousness that I recall and that makes me want to immediately sign up to run another. The key is to really have fun, not worry about how fast or slow you’re going and really take in each miles of the 200 mile journey.
For more tips on how to make the most of our your experience, check out my post on how to create an EPIC Ragnar Relay adventure.
For more information on how to make Ragnar Relay the best experience ever, check out more of my tips and race recaps:
If you want to register for Ragnar Relay Adirondacks but haven’t yet, be sure to do so before prices increase on Thursday. Sign up to run, drive, sleep? repeat, here.
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