Ragnar Relay Training
YOU MADE IT! You successfully recruited 5 or less friends, found a vehicle (borrowed, owned, rented), got your team some awesome t-shirts (PS – if you have the skills I highly suggest designing your own and going with a local print company to keep costs down), and have made it almost to race day without injury or loosing your mind!! CONGRATS! Now all you have to do is RUN THIS THING!
3 or 6 legs?!?!
I hope you have already discussed this with your team! This is something that should be discussed as soon as possible to help your team train. If not, no time like the present. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to run Ragnar Ultra. For Madison – Chicago 3 legs works just fine if you have some FIT people (the longest someone will run is about 16 miles) and it is a VERY runnable course. For other relays look at the most mileage one person will have to run in a leg and see if you think that is “doable”, encourage your team to be honest. Private message or e-mail each member so they don’t feel like need to impress the group by saying yes to a huge distance. No matter which way you choose the following will be important.
To help your team choose you could make a document like this:
Captain Responsibilities (could be delegated)
Packing for the van (SEE POST HERE)
– Helpful hint here is to have a water cooler in the van you can re-fill with gallons from gas stations along the way
– You may wish to distribute route cards to each member of your team in an easy to carry format. This can be especially helpful for legs with a lot of directions. I have done this 2 ways
1) CAREFULLY re-type the route directions in a word document in the business card template.
2) Using a method to screen shot pull up each map and screen shot JUST the route directions
On the back of each card type/write your name/phone number as well as one other responsible team member, ideally you both have different cell phone providers in case you are outside coverage for one.
Print and “laminate” using clear box tape. This way sweat/water will not wreck them.
Put each person’s in their own envelope with their name. I have also included “team cards” since they can be made at the same time using the same method. These cards usually include the team name, relay logo/date and an inspirational quote. A lot of my team members still have theirs.
Emergency Contact List
Should include: Team member name, cell phone number and 2 emergency contacts. Make 3 copies, 2 for the van and one to leave with a trusted friend/family member you could contact in case the van lists are lost/ not accessible.
Even if it feels like homework READ IT! KNOW IT!
If you are running 6 legs Ragnar now has an awesome pace calculator right on your team page! You are set go plug those times into an excel spread sheet and jump to the “supporting your runner section”.
If you are running 3 long legs. Your team mates should have signed up with and given you their HALF MARATHON average NOT their 10K pace. Take those times and have someone who is good with numbers/excel put a chart together starting with your start time. Helpful information on this chart for EACH LEG: runner name, start time, average pace, predicted running time, predicted end time. In the last column it can be helpful to include the SWEET HAPPENINGS Ragnar advertises for the exchange (Exchange 6 sweet happenings would go in the last column after runner 3) This was helpful to for a quick reference where to eat/change/ special deals you want to hit up. Also include support request information. Team We Run This’ looks like this:
Supporting Your Runner
During some legs you will have no choice but to not offer your runner support. There are areas in a relay where it is not safe/recommended. Other legs you will be able to support them, whenever, wherever. It is important to message/email each runner separately to find out what kind of support they would like. You will also want to re-evaluate with each runner/ encourage them to ask for more/less support during the race. If they are apathetic but seem down, out, beaten up, it might be a good idea to surprise them the next leg with cowbells and cheers. In my experience the most helpful times to have runners willing to go it alone are between the hours of 2a -7a during legs that will last 1.5 hours or more (this way the team can rest at a “normal” dark time) as well as the very last leg (this way your team can get to the finish, park, gather flags to return, find a good place to see you come in, etc.). In my opinion there should NEVER be a runner who doesn’t get support on at least 2 legs!
This is the tricky part no matter how you run Ragnar. It is so fun and exciting people tend to try to stay up and be part of the party. Encourage your runners so rest when they can, especially during the run that is 2 before their next. If possible the runner that is about to run should rest or warm up as they need during the hour or so the runner before them is running. In the same vein the runner after the “on deck” runner should be RESTING as much as possible. This is where is can be hard to find a balance of supporting the team and resting. Sorry captain you will likely pull double… triple duty in this respect. You will be managing the team making sure people rest and likely not resting much. I also encourage you to take time if you need it. Know yourself enough to step back as a leader for an hour or so and SLEEP!
The part I love most about Ragnar is the FUN! Even though you are managing a team and running a lot of miles it is possible to have fun. This is why I make sure I highlight the “sweet happenings” in the runner chart above. For example I LOVE NUUN so I wanted to make sure at Exchange 6 last year I took advantage of their deal. If I hadn’t wrote it down I probably would have forgot. I also brought plenty of fun things like cowbells, glow sticks, whistles, and chalk to add to the fun race vibe. Make sure you take a lot of pictures and/or video! You could even make your own video after to commemorate the accomplishment. Ours is here from 2013. I have watched it ANY time I felt discouraged or overwhelmed with training.
Still have questions/concerns e-mail me at Rachel@werunthis.org I’d be happy to help!
Tighten Those Laces. Let’s Run. Drive. Sleep? Repeat!
Hey look it’s finally MY turn to do one of these! Please check out the rest of team We Run This:
Rachel G, 30, Milwaukee, WI Founder – We Run This
1) How long have you been running? What got you started?
I have been running 5 ½ years and started on a bet. More on that here
2) Why Ragnar Ultra?
After crossing the finish line on a regular team in 2012 I KNEW I wanted to captain/run an ultra team because managing 11 people was rough for me and I LOVE pushing myself in running. Ultra is a different animal. There is less “down” time but my favorite part of Ragnar is spending 30+ hours engulfed in the running community!
3) Where do you typically run?
I run outside as much as possible. This winter in WI REALLY pushed my limits and I relied on the Pettit and my Y membership more than I EVER have. I prefer trails but admit to be a bit of a wuss when it comes to being in the woods alone for too long. That and having small kids it is usually most convenient to road run.
4) Do you cross train? How?
I TRY to get to the gym once a week for strength training/ incline training. I use THIS ab workout and do free weights. For Incline training I spend time on the stair machine and run/walk on the treadmills that go to 25% incline. In conjunction with Ragnar training I’m training for Dances With Dirt – Devil’s Lake – a 50K with A LOT of hills. I also bike to work when weather/schedule permits. I’m a nervous road biker though and haven’t food a GREAT way to work yet so I chicken out and run instead sometimes.
5) Must have running gear?
For longer distances a hydration system that works/fits. For an average day run something to keep my hair out of my face, usually a hat.
6) While running Music/ No music?
No music. I use to not be able to stand running sans music now it makes my head hurt. I will use it sometimes inside but even then it makes me tune out my body and changes my running experience.
7) What are you most excited about for Ragnar this year?
My KICK ASS TEAM!! We have a great group of athletes who are just different enough to keep things interesting. It can be nerve wracking as a captain to stick 5 people plus yourself together because you never know what you will get, personality wise. This year I don’t have that fear!
Also pushing myself by having just over a ½ marathon my last leg!
8) What are you most scared of about Ragnar this year?
Logistics. ALWAYS logistics. Will we be to the exchange on time? What if someone gets hurt? Who can go unsupported so we can sleep? Is anyone mad? Did ______ eat? As a captain Ragnar is a different experience, you have to run but also make sure you get those other 5 people to the finish and on team We Run This we aim to do that while having THE MOST FUN possible. I trust my team so that helps!
9) If one thing could be waiting for you in Chicago at the Ragnar finish line what would it be?
I think the FREE ice cold Sierra Nevada (Ragnar Sponsor) will do!!!
10) Anything else you would like to share?
Thanks to everyone who has followed the series of Get To Know Team We Run This! Follow us leading up to the race and during on Twitter at @WeRunThisDotOrg or #teamWRT or on Facebook facebook.com/werunthis1 or #teamWRT
Let us know if YOU on running Ragnar Chicago 2014!
Tighten Those Laces! LETS RUN!
I have known Taylor for longer then I have been running. My cousin by marriage he has always been active and positive. Taylor was on our 2012 Ragnar Chicago team and easily the fastest person on that team. I’m excited to get to share a van with him this year and nervous about getting to his exchanges on time!
Taylor S, 22, Madison,WI 4th-Year Student at UW-Madison studying Chemical Engineering
1)How long have you been running? What got you started?
I competed in pole vault in High School but never got much into running any distance. I began training for running in order to do better in triathlons. Other than that, I had only done a few short races before doing the Ragnar back in 2012.
2)Why Ragnar Ultra?
I’m doing the ultra because Rachel asked me. I enjoy training and challenging myself so this race is perfect.
3)Where do you typically run?
I usually run outside on roads because I can’t stand running on a treadmill for more than 20-30 minutes. It gets too boring and I like being out in the fresh air
4)Do you cross train? How?
I cross train with swimming, biking, and rock climbing. I plan on playing in the UW-Marching Band for a 5th year next year and I’m trying to do anything to avoid injuries from doing anything too repetitive
5)Must have running gear?
When running, I tend to go with whatever is lightest and keeps me coolest. Light shoes and shorts are what I go with when I can.
6)While running Music/ No music?
I used to not like running with music, but I’ve become more used to it over the last year or two. Any album or podcast by The White Panda works well for me because it is so upbeat
7)What are you most excited about for Ragnar this year?
I am really excited to challenge myself with the distance. I have never raced this far before and I’m looking forward to the mental challenge.
8)What are you most scared of about Ragnar this year?
I’m most scared that my body won’t be able to hold up over the distances. I’ve had knee problems in the past that have been improving, but I just hope that they don’t return during the race.
9)If one thing could be waiting for you in Chicago at the Ragnar finish line what would it be?
If there could be anything waiting for me at the finish line this year, it would be a pool. If this year is going to be anything like 2012, it’s going to be HOT, HOT, HOT and a dip at the end would feel great!
10)Anything else you would like to share?
At UW-Madison, I’ve marched 4 years in the UW Marching Band and plan to do another. It is a big time commitment, but I really enjoy the athletic challenge and the ability to play and perform music all year round. Outside of classes, this is what I spend the majority of my time with.
The race is ALMOST here so be on the lookout for our last installment of Get To Know Team We Run This – Ragnar 2014 as well as an all new Captain’s Blog on race day preparedness!
Tighten Those Laces – LETS RUN
You might have seen here that I had signed up to Ride Around The Clock for the Waukesha County YMCA. That ride was this weekend and I learned a lot! Since last summer I have been biking more both outside and at the gym as a way of cross training. Outdoors I have an alright road bike with a seat that is less than “grandma” like. Inside I usually stick to the recumbent bikes because I rarely have my bike shorts, I HATE how the non-spin upright bike seats feel and there is limited access to spin bikes. No matter what bike I was riding I had NEVER clocked more than 2 hours in the saddle.
Saturday I was scheduled to run 14 miles and had an option for kid care, at the Y, so I thought it was best to take full advantage. Got leaving a later than expected and ended with 12.8 not 14 but I’ll take it. The run was windy and cold but it still felt good to get outside. After all was said and done of our busy morning we were home and the kids were in bed by 1:15. I TRIED to nap. I DID! However, 1:30 became 2:30, became 3:30 and grandma was there to pick them up. After sleep seemed like a lost cause I headed BACK to Waukesha to do some work at a coffee shop. I ended up getting to the Y at 7p NOT my originally planned so I could rest 9p!!!!
I’m happy I was early because there wasn’t much of my team there yet so I got to support our rider by riding (and eating pizza) for 15 minutes on the bike next to her and standing there to chat. At Ride Around The Clock ALL teams must have a rider on the bike AT ALL TIMES. Each team also has a bike next to the “on” bike that can be used for a supporter (you can use either bike for either function someone just needs to be on ONE of them). Teams also have the area in front of their bikes to decorate. After a few hours of messing around one of our members REALLY needed support so I jumped on the bike next to her for another 30 minutes knowing it would add to my total/soreness but I can’t sit around watching someone suffer.
I’m not going to lie and say I even TRIED to sleep. I was in a weird state of awake but lethargic around 11pm and could have probably slept but it was my wife’s turn to ride. She ended up doing almost 4 hours after a board member challenged her! She is a ROCK STAR and rode very close to 90 miles during the whole event. After that I could have tried to find somewhere quiet to rest but I know it’s usually all or nothing with me when it comes to sleep and 3am was too close for comfort.
So I was left just waiting to go, the support bike was open so I thought “why not just start now!” It was 2:40a and I was on the bike. By this time my team was fading fast. By 3:30a everyone of them was down for the count (which is why I don’t have any pictures of MY ride). I was thankful for Dave, the guy who rode 6 hours total and my whole shift next to me and also one of the other staff who was on another team but helped me out by getting me water. The ride went by without incident even though I was worried about my wonky knee. It reminded me it was wonky but nothing more. At 6am my relief came and I have NEVER liked someone I have NEVER met so much in my life! I was really tired and nauseous (probably from lack of eating on the bike/eating crap at the event) when I got off the bike, really just ready to be DONE!
The only thing I would change about this event was food options. I don’t really want pizza, ice cream and chips when I’m riding/going to be riding. There was fresh fruit in the morning but I would have liked the option the whole day. We brought some of our own snacks but didn’t even think to bring fruits and veggies (one of our morning teammates DID bring some at my request). All in all it was a REALLY fun event and probably really good Ragnar Relay training with the sleep depravation, especially since I made it until 10p Sunday before hitting the hay. I am exhausted, and could have slept another 3 + hours, but I am also not all that sore today. Thanks to everyone who donated we exceeded our goal by A LOT!
Have you ever participated in a 24 hour _____athon?
Tighten Those Laces! Lets RUN!!
Here I am in a blogging lull again. After my 50K focused a lot of energy on recovery (eating and drinking) and gaining a good 5lb. I was being pretty lazy in all aspects of my life and you know what I am OK with that. I spent 10 months of 2013 in “training” mode. First for Ragnar Chicago and then for Surf the Murph 50K. All the while I was also juggling a lot of other responsibilities that meant late nights and early wake ups.
So here we are January 2nd 2014! Why not be cliché and write a testament about how I won’t let that laziness happen AGAIN? Well because that’s not really my style and it probably will happen again, next October after an epic year it will be a deserved break, recharge or whatever you want to call it. I really resumed my running life about a month ago (though I had been running for fun and when I wanted the whole time) when I got bored/sick of being lazy starting building a base and eating better (subsequently loosing those 5lbs) so this is NOT about starting new for 2014 but keeping the momentum growing.
What’s up for 2014
Monthly women only fun runs!
– I have accepted the position as the Race Director for Run Like a Mother – Milwaukee. This 5K race will be held May 10th (Mother’s Day). Though I will not saturate We Run This with RLAM posts I will put out a few reminders to register/requests for volunteers. This is an important journey in my running life so I will share lessons learned and field notes from my adventure for anyone considering race directing as well.
– As you may know I am SO HONORED to have been selected into a group of people tasked with promoting Ragnar known as Ragnar Ambassadors. I’ll be running more store fun runs and hosting some 101 sessions to help get out the word because this is probably my FAVORITE RACE! PS Prices increase 1/10 so if you’ve been debating – REGISTER NOW
– I will be captaining and running as part of an ultra (6 person) team again and I am SUPER excited for our cast of characters (who don’t know it but I am going to ask to feature them on the blog).
The BIG run goal
– The BIG run goal for me this year will be to complete 2 50Ks! I had so much fun at Surf the Murph I want to capture that again and again. Timing works out perfectly from a training prospective so as long as I get in to both races I will be running Dances With Dirt – Devil’s Lake on July 12th (for fun/experience/because I have a wedding to go to in Madison at 4:00pm anyways) and the Glacial Trail 50K on Oct. 12th (for time, under 7hrs). That was scary to write!
So there it is. It doesn’t seem like much but on top of a full time job and parenting twin four year olds in a household with a lot of weekend travel it should be interesting. I hope to meet as much of the We Run This community as possible in 2014 and am looking forward to many great runs!
Happy New Year!
Tighten those laces! Let’s Run!!
Registration for Ragnar Chicago opened last week and many other Ragnars are open or about to and you REALLY want to run. The only problem is you don’t know anyone who needs a team member. Why not start your own team!!! Don’t worry it’s not as scary as it sounds and we are here to help. This step by step guide will give you the skills and tools to recruit, engage, and get your team ready to run! The following strategies have been proven successful for captaining both a 12 and 6 person team.
Watch for part II where we will highlight the actual running of the race.
1)Start talking about Ragnar RIGHT NOW! Talk to anyone who will listen because you never know who would be interested. Get yourself educated on your race by reviewing the race specific page at http://www.ragnarrelay.com
2)Start posting on your social media about Ragnar RIGHT NOW! Be creative and post videos/blogs. Feel free to share the video of team We Run This and our ULTRA journey in 2013 or find videos for your specific race by going to the Ragnar Relay YouTube page. If the video evokes emotion in you it will likely get people’s interest. Encourage your friends to share your posts to find runners outside your circle.
3)Encourage people to join you but be straight forward about expectations. How will you handle drop outs? (see below) How much communication do you except? How much participation/special projects will be involved?
4)Do not let people think they are on your team until you have cash (check) in hand!!! You can invite as many people as you want to your group/e-mail list but only invite PAID runners to the official Ragnar team site! As a captain you will register and therefor have sole financial responsibility of the team. I encourage people not to be scared of this go ahead and register before you have a full team. If it makes you feel better to have some of the money to pay back to your credit card/savings wait until you have a few payments.
Once you find a team – keeping them on track!</p>
We can all agree runners are a … unique… group. Now you have 11 or 5 of them to “manage”.
1)Start a Facebook or similar group where everyone can get/share information.
2)Be straight forward about expectations again in your first couple of correspondences
3)Ask about fitness, experience and how they expect to train and encourage people to be HONEST with you and themselves.
4)Tell everyone they need to communicate any concerns, injuries, etc with you ASAP. The sooner you know you need to replace a runner the easier it will be to find one.
5)Keep your team engaged: posted motivational videos, quotes, pictures. Share your ups and downs in training and others will follow suit.
6)Stay engaged! You will likely be forming a team 6 months or more before race day so make sure your enthusiasm holds strong by scheduling group runs with all/some of the team and hosting team meetings (see below) 2-3 times before the race.
1)Plan to hold 2-3 team “meetings”. These meetings can be in person but they do not HAVE to! If you are using a Facebook group you can chat on Facebook. If everyone has the technology you can use google+ Hangout or another video chat site. If this is not your forte it is likely someone on the team knows about or has a kid that knows about technology.
2)The first meeting (about 5 months out) – BASICS – Get to know one another, review runner distances and start to place people so they know what they are training for (NOTE: Distances can always change, be prepared to run a little more than the assigned distance just in case), VOLUNTEERS – talk about recruitment NOW! If you need more runners talk recruitment of them now as well. Do you want team shirts? Who can/will design/be in charge? Does anyone have a suitable vehicle to use? What kind of vehicle to rent/where from? Does someone have connections for a discount? Make reservations sooner than later! PRO TIP: If you can DO NOT rent at an airport location there is usually extra taxes!
3)The second meeting (2 months out) – Do you still need volunteers? Runners? This is the meeting to really start talking logistics. Make a plan to secure a vehicle. If you want to and haven’t you will need to order shirts ASAP. PRO TIP: It is usually cheaper to go with a local printing company than an online source. Are you staying in the start city the night before? Where? Who can car pool? Are you staying in your end city? Where? What if some of the team wants to stay and others do not? Who will bring what? See our tips for packing for Ragnar here! Remind runners to stick with training but take it easy the week before the race. Plan last meeting to tie up loose ends if applicable.
4)It can be fun to plan social meetings if some of you are in the same town(s). As the captain if it is possible you should plan to travel to another town to meet your teammates. If you all don’t meet pre-race it is no big deal you will become fast friends during the race.
Dealing with drop outs
If you have made your expectations clear throughout recruitment, in theory, this should be easy. You have two options when it comes to a drop out 1- replace the runner 2- do not replace them and have someone or multiple people pick up the distance. Many captains hold strong that once you pay it is NON-REFUNDABLE unless the exiting runner finds a paying replacement. You can decide if you want to refund all/some of the funds if the team has to find the replacements. Some teams split estimated race day(s) costs (food, gas, hotel) beforehand and will have to decide about refunding that or not. I have never done expenses this way. I have always had these paid after.
That about sums it up! You are now ready to choose your own Ragnar adventure at www.ragnarrelay.com make 5 – 11 new friends and have the experience of a life time!
Still have questions? Contact Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tighten Those Laces! Lets RUN!!
As soon as I crossed the finish line at Ragnar Chicago in 2012 I KNEW I would be back. After suffering the heat and chaos of a captaining a 12 person team I also knew in 2013 I would put together a 6 person team and call it a day! So I did what any reasonable runner would do and
hired a coach with experience searched the internet for training plans. Though I couldn’t find a Ragnar Ultra specific training plan I did find multiple blogs that suggested one should be in “marathon shape” so I figured I would follow a marathon training plan with some modifications. Since I already had the book “Train Like A Mother” I thought I’d try their “own it” plan. I WILL NOT be re-hashing that plan here. The authors deserve your money so if you are interested in it PLEASE go buy the book. Since I revamped the schedule some and had a few “hiccups” in training you will have to fill in yourself I WILL show you what I did based on my Garmin data (I am also putting myself out there and leaving all the paces, I NEVER claimed to be the fastest). I would also like to mention I am NOT a certified coach/trainer so if you choose to follow any of these suggestions you are doing so at your own risk.
For a video recap of our Ultra adventure head over to Youtube
Training started February 2nd 2013.
Outside of running all these miles I also generally took Monday and Wednesday to strength train. I used a new online library of workouts at www.streamfit.com mainly because it was founded by a local guy and it gives you the option to customize your workouts.
The other important thing to consider when training for Ragnar Ultra is nutrition. I ate the most of anyone on our team and that left me with the most energy and motivation throughout the journey. Even with only sleeping 1.5 hours.
Pre-Run: Start practicing this RIGHT AWAY. Find out how long before a run you need to eat and what works for you. Choose easily packable/storable foods that give you both carbs and protein. There is NO “right” formula for this just trial and error. If you ALWAYS need coffee/caffeine before a run try to ween yourself from that pre race just in case there is nothing available.
On the run: Practice eating!!! Gels, gummies, pretzels, orange slices, anything. I suggest have 2-3 fuel sources that work for you as you may get tired of using the same one for all 3 legs or one might just seem more appealing at 4am. I found it very helpful during Ragnar to “over eat” on the runs. For example I usually eat about 200 calories on a 10 mile run. Near the end of training I started loading it to 300 – 400 to get my body use to it and also used this plan race day(s). I found over loading just a bit and near the end of each leg to help when I didn’t feel like I could eat right away. It gave me a bit of a window before my system was too depleted.
After the run: : Practice with different recovery drinks find one you could get down even with a bit of stomach distress. Many people experience a bit of nausea when they are sleep deprived. Also make sure it is something portable/storable. During training I pretty much stuck with my Post Long Run beer but since there is NO drinking allowed on the course I used GU Recovery Brew. To be honest I had used it before but NOT in this training cycle so I got lucky it didn’t back fire.
In between the runs: This is hard to practice. Even on days when you do your back to back runs you will still be living your “normal” life with access to “regular” food. Try for at least 2 of those sessions to eat less than you normally would and eat foods you think you will be bringing. The food that CHANGED MY LIFE during the race was turkey on wheat bread. If your stomach can handle it I suggest running pretty soon after a meal as well just incase you forget to eat/ are using that time to sleep and you get stuck trying to get loaded right before a leg. Also try using Imodium or Pepto Bismol a couple of times to see how your body reacts. There was not a single person on our team that did not experience some stomach “issues” these things were a game changer!
Be prepared to do A LOT of laundry and try many different top/bottom combos because you never know what the weather will be so you are going to want many options that have been tested on 10+ mile training runs.
As you see above I did not do any 3x runs. I did a few when I trained for Ragnar as a 12 person but this training cycle I found myself REALLY pressed for finding that “extra” time also you are TRAINING you don’t want to beat your body TOO badly. I found doing a few of the 16-19 mile runs at a faster pace really simulated the pounding I felt in my quads on my last leg.
When possible run at ALL times of the day. Especially if you are nervous about a 3am run start. Find a buddy and find a time to run then. Get to know what the sky looks like, what animal noises are around and get use to the silence (I strongly suggest running your night leg sans headphones, it is a wonderful time to reflect, regroup and visualize your strong finish)
Other Ragnar Ultra runners: any other training suggestions?
Tighten those laces. Lets RUN!!!