Ermagawd you guys! One month from today I will embark on my very first long-form relay, Ragnar Relay Napa Valley. I am immensely grateful Nuun Hydration chose lil’ ol’ me to be on their 12-member team (working title, “Team Nuun Ragnar Napa Valley”).
The relay promises to be challenging while also exciting and fun, fun, fun. I’m excited to cheer for my teammates, make new friends, and have a legitimate reason to dork-out in the name of Nuun and friendly competition. The stunning starting- and ending-locations certainly won’t detract from the experience, either.
I mean, a course that runs from San Francisco to Napa Valley, you guys! What could be better? (If you said “Wine at the water stations,” we need to be best friends. DM me.)
Excitement and silliness aside, though, there’s a serious side to a Ragnar: Making sure I can run all those legs I’ve committed to run. I’m dedicated to meeting the challenge of running about 17 miles over 3 legs by the time the relay starts on October 23, 2015.
As you may or may not know (if you don’t know, start here and then read this), I’ve been battling injuries off and on for the last 16 months that have led me to DNS not 1, not 2, but 3 marathons. Ugh.
Most recently, I made the difficult decision to drop out of the Chicago Marathon, although the disappointment was softened by the consolation that I would be able to run with Team Nuun at Ragnar Napa approximately 2 weeks later than Chicago race day.
Since July, I’ve been slowly but surely rebuilding my fitness and running foundation–which includes not only increasing my mileage, but gradually improving the tolerance of the bones and soft tissues in my legs and feet to withstand those increased miles. I was even able to run a 5K, and not too poorly.
Training for a Ragnar Relay is all new to me. I’m used to training only for marathons, the preparation for which involves a fairly structured plan involving a calendar and frequent advice from my coach. I haven’t trained for any race shorter than 26.2 miles since I prepared to run my first half marathon in 2011, so I’m feeling a little lost and pretty half-assed about the idea of training to run 17 miles in 3 segments.
To prepare a training strategy for Ragnar Napa, I’ve consulted the plans on the Ragnar site, read other mid-pack bloggers’ advice, and talked to a running friend or two with experience. I’m not buying anything wholesale, but have picked and chosen from what I’ve learned.
Decisions are hard, guys.
The resulting training “plan” isn’t a plan, but merely a strategy consisting of goals to reach in advance of the race. Those goals include:
- Build my weekly mileage to 20-25 miles per week.
- Comfortably run a 12-mile long run.
- Run back-to-back days at least once per week, with a long run day following a run the previous day.
- Run 2-per-days (1 run in the morning, followed by another the evening of the same day) once per week.
So far I’ve met goal 3 up to this time, as this is usually how I run–a shorter, faster run on Saturday and a long easy run on Sunday. As for my weekly mileage, I’m up to about 18 miles per week, so I don’t foresee a problem getting within my goal range. My last couple of long runs were only 8-milers, but I’m ready to advance to a 9-miler this coming Sunday and should be able to run a 12-miler before October 23.
Finally, the dreaded (to me) 2-per-days: I’ve never run twice in a day before, and I’m a little nervous to do this based on my history. However, I have been building mileage so conservatively over the last several months that I feel starting with low-mileage 2-per days is fairly safe–even for my injury-prone bod. I intend to take a stab at this next Tuesday or Thursday, when I plan to run 2 miles in the morning and 2 miles in the afternoon.
Have you ever run a Ragnar Relay or similar long-form relay (e.g., Hood to Coast)? Any training tips you can provide? Have you ever been to San Francisco or Napa Valley? Red or white wine?