Running towards Ragnar Napa

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”).

team nuun ragnar napa

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.)

overview map

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.Photo Jan 05, 12 35 58 PM

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:

  1. Build my weekly mileage to 20-25 miles per week.
  2. Comfortably run a 12-mile long run.
  3. Run back-to-back days at least once per week, with a long run day following a run the previous day.
  4. 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.

alsoranagain philly

Yay, me!

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. 

I hope you’ll follow along with me as I train to run with Team Nuun Ragnar Napa at the Ragnar Relay Napa Valley.

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?

21 thoughts on “Running towards Ragnar Napa

  1. I’ve never ran a Ragnar before but have many friends who have and loved it. Sorry to hear about Chicago, but looks like you’ve got even better things planned!!! I’ve always wanted to visit Napa…It’s on my bucket list for sure. I love almost all wines, but lean towards white as red gives me headaches.

  2. I am running Ragnar DC next weekend. I am totally not prepared (injuries over the summer too) but glad to be a Solemate for Girls on the Run so gonna get it done even if I have to crawl. I didn’t even think to ‘train’ using Ragnar training…why didn’t I think of that?!? Total mileage for me is 13.4 and I have a half the following weekend in Brooklyn.

    San Fran to Napa-i can only image the beauty!!

    I use to be a purely Reisling drinker but since turning 40, I have become more drawn to reds specifically Petit Shiraz.

    Sorry to hear about Chicago -i hope you will be able to run it one day.

  3. Napa is a great Ragnar, I’ve run it two times and I’d do it again! Part of me hopes to jump into a last-minute spot this year if someone needs a runner. I don’t think it was in the post – what runner # are you?

  4. This is going to be SO MUCH FUN, Molly! I’ve never done a Ragnar race, but I’ve heard tons about it from Debi and Cecilia and they absolutely love it; they are constantly trying to recruit me (their race in TN is in October), but I have yet to cave. I think you’ll do great; I’m excited to follow along!

  5. Running +Wine + Awesome Scenery = An AMAZING time in my book. I love SF and Napa/Sonoma. I ran the Healdsburg Wine Country Half (which is a little northwest of your finish) and it was such a beautiful course. Will you have some extra time to explore the other wineries that weekend? I really like Chappellet for their Chardonnay and IronHorse for Sparkling Wine (love the bubbles). I ran Key West Ragnar in 2012….but I found it a bit too hot for my liking.

  6. I am so excited for you! Ragnar TN last year was seriously the best time of my life and I can’t wait to do it again at the end of October. As far as the 2 a days…I would consider trying to run at night and then sleep and run the next morning. It would be the same concept but maybe mentally it would be easier. Also, I did no special training for Ragnar last year. I was in the middle of marathon training so my base was fine, but the special running conditions are something that you get through on adrenaline. I can’t wait to see how it goes!

  7. Sue @ This Mama Runs For Cupcakes says:

    OMG, I am so freaking excited for you and maybe a touch jealous. That course is going to be amazing. I’m running Ragnar DC next week and can’t wait. I’ll be honest. I didn’t really train for my 1st Ragnar and I’m in the middle of marathon training right now so I haven’t done anything different. You will do great no matter what, the adrenaline gets you through those other legs!

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