First Ragnar Relay

by A Newbie Runner

Runners at their first Ragnar Relay!

Runners at their first Ragnar Relay!

I'm running my first Ragnar Relay with friends who are better runners than I am. How do I get ready for it?

I've run a few 5k races, but that's the longest distance so far. I don't have any real injuries (I want to keep it that way), and I do more yoga each week than I do running of any kind.

Should I tell my friends to look for another teammate? Or, can I really make it through this?

Editor Suggestion Regarding Your First Ragnar Relay:

Hi, and thanks for your submission!

First off, congratulations! Participating in a Ragnar Relay Race can be a lot of fun. And, there are a lot of things that you can do in preparation to make it even more so.

I participated in my first Ragnar Relay in 2014. It was a collective 192 miles from Hull, MA to Provincetown, MA.

At that point in time, I'm not sure that I had ever run more than 8 miles at a single time. "Longer" distances weren't part of my running vocabulary or running resume yet.

At that point, there were two types of Ragnar Relay races; trail-based ones and road-based ones, where one teammate runs at a time.

The trail-based races usually have a sort of home base, where teams of athletes set up a campsite. There will be multiple, different loops that each runner will experience throughout the race, which usually includes overnight "legs" of the race (so have your headlamp handy).

The road-based races are point-to-point, so as one teammate is running, the others are in a 12-15 passenger van, heading to the next transition area (where one runner passes off the running wrist band to the next participant for their leg of the race).

In determining whether you should do the race (you should, by the way) or not, there are a few things to consider.

1) Choose Your Teammates Wisely

Be sure that the people that are on your team, whether family, friends, or acquaintances, are people that you'll enjoy being around for however long it takes your group to run a collective, near 200 miles. It could be more than 24 hours!

24 hours isn't that much time. And, there shouldn't be anything so awful that happens that any friendships would be damaged. Just know that you'll be in some pretty close quarters (especially if in a van) for a good period of time.

2) Focus on The Legs of The Race, Rather than on The Total Distance

You'd mentioned that you've completed 5k races, but hadn't done more than that. That shouldn't be a worry, so long as you are consistent in your training.

In my first Ragnar Relay, I believe the total distance of each leg that I ran was 19 miles, over the course of 3 legs of the race. With that, I want to say that 2 of the legs were shorter than 6 miles, and 1 was longer.

I really hadn't know what to expect, or how to pace myself, at that time, so I was mostly focused on feeling good, keeping my energy high (until I felt sleep deprived), and being a good cheerleader to my teammates.

Nobody will remember who did well on what stage or what your times were on each leg (let alone their own).

What you and your teammates will remember are the laughs, the camaraderie, and the finish line (and, finally getting to sleep after the race!).

When you do your next Ragnar race, you'll be able to pay more attention to your pace, your time, and improvements; if you want to.

3) Be Sure to Stretch

This goes for both your training days and for race day.

And, it goes for both the road-based Ragnar, and the trail-based Ragnar.

You'd mentioned wanting to avoid injury. And, if you have so far, then you're doing something right, already.

A comprehensive running program is pretty important. And, that should include Flexibility & Mobility, Strength Training, Variety in your running workouts, Static Stretching, and Rest & Recovery, among other things.

Where you'll be cramped up in a van, or enjoying the comforts of a campsite in between runs, it is easy to neglect the stretches that will keep you feeling good each time it is your turn to run. Taking 10 minutes for static stretching post-run, and 10 minutes for dynamic flexibility pre-run, can be a solid strategy.

And, working similar techniques into your daily training can help in keeping you healthy for the long-term.

We're Excited for Your First Ragnar Relay!

We know you'll love your experience, and we can't wait to hear about it. Be sure to visit us here, and let us know all about it once you've crossed that finish line!

Readers and Runners: any suggestions or tips on running your first Ragnar relay? Leave a comment below!

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