Ragnar: Being Thankful

We asked our Ambassadors to tell us what they are thankful for during this season of giving thanks. Renee Hill, a Ragnar Ambassador from Milwaukee, who has run Ragnar Chicago ’11 and ’12, writes about her team experience.

I will always be thankful for Ragnar. I joined a Ragnar Chicago team in 2011, full of complete strangers. Some of them are now some of my closest friends. We travel to races together. We plan crazy running adventures. We tease each other about football. We compare shoes. We get together on a cold January day for beer and football. We are more than running buddies. We are friends.

I am thankful for all of that. I am thankful that I was not afraid of getting in a van with strangers. Instead I looked at it as a fun adventure with other runners. It was so much more. It was the beginning of friendships. I can’t imagine my life without some of these people. Ragnar brought us together. We shared an adventure that no one else understands. Each team is unique and I loved each moment of both of my teams. Not all the same runners from year to year. I can’t imagine not having this race on my schedule.

Who would have thought sleeping on the ground would be so much fun? But it is. Or not showering? Or not sleeping? And the inane conversations at 4:00am? Those are the best.

Thank you Ragnar and all my teammates.

Want to ask Renee about her experiences? Contact her at: Blog: http://runningtowardsomethingnew.com/ and Twitter: @rshill37

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Surviving a Nighttime Run

We asked Amy, a Ragnarian, to tell us how she survives the Ragnar nighttime runs. Read below and get ready to run overnight with 11 of your buddies!

Comment below and tell us your tips and tricks for surviving a nighttime run.

Along with Halloween, haunted houses, and horror movies, fall also brings us shorter days with limited daylight.  For those of us who often plan our training runs for after work hours, this means that a run or two through the dark will be inevitable.  Admittedly, as someone who has to plug in a nightlight after watching a scary movie, the idea of running through darkness used to be pretty intimidating.  But once I learned how to work though the creepiness factor, I quickly learned that running at night certainly has its benefits.  So read up, fellow scaredy cats: below are a few quick tips on how to survive that p.m. run.

Tip #1: No, that’s not the Blair Witch coming after you.  Don’t psych yourself out.
Someone once told me that I must have a vivid imagination because I prefer to run sans music.  This fact was only further highlighted during my first foray into nighttime running during Ragnar DC.  Jaunting around Sugarloaf Mountain Park during graveyard shift hours, I made myself the unintentional star of my own personal horror movie: the crunching noise that I kept hearing was clearly the Blair Witch coming to get me (or likely a squirrel or a falling tree branch), and the runners visibly napping in their Ragnar vans had been attacked (nope, they were probably just sneaking in some shut-eye).  It’s can be a little too easy to creep yourself out in the dark with ridiculous thoughts.  Try not to let you imagination go too crazy — rather, focus on your goals and happy thoughts.

Tip #2: Glow, baby, glow: Be safe and rock that reflective vest.
Nighttime running is definitely not the time to skip out on any safety precautions.  Aim to run in a familiar, well-lit area.  Grab a buddy or your four-legged friend to hit the pavement with.  If running solo, make sure to let a friend know your plan, and be sure to have your Road ID tag and cell phone on you.  And don’t forget to throw on your reflective gear (at least neon is making a huge comeback, right?).

Tip #3: Watch your step.
Yes, it may look a little goofy, but a headlamp is helpful with expanding your visibility and helping to sight your terrain.  Tripping over potholes, rocks, and branches is never fun, so make sure to always keep an eye on the ground ahead of you.

Tip #4: Embrace your inner badassness.
There is something special about running through the night.  I’ll never forget the exhilaration that I felt after completing my 3:00 a.m. Ragnar leg — it kept me pumped me up through the remainder of the relay, and I often tell people how it was one of my most memorable — maybe even best — runs.  And having a sparkly moonlit sky or quiet city landscape as your backdrop as your crush through a run makes the thrill of the accomplishment all the more sweeter.

So slap on that reflective vest, turn up your confidence, and try that nighttime run …you may find out that you’ll enjoy it!

Amy Anselmo is a Washington, DC based meeting and event planner who caught the endurance sports bug a few short years ago.  20+ endurance events later, she’s hooked.  Amy is also actively involved with Team In Training, the largest fundraising campaign of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society that trains athletes to complete endurance events while raising money to support blood cancer patients and their families.

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Ragnar Training Tips

We asked Coach Lora, the “Blonde Runner”, how she preps for Ragnar and what advice she gives to her clients. Check out her informative response.

When anyone approaches me about training for any Ragnar event, I always suggest to prepare as if you were going to do a half marathon.  Many runners will tell you that the half marathon distance is the perfect race distance. It’s long enough for a challenge, but short enough to recover from, quicker than a marathon. However half marathons take more preparation time than a 5K or 10K, so it is important to keep some things in mind when you are training for one.

Take time to get in shape. It is not wise to enter a race out of shape, and let’s face it, you can really hurt yourself. Running a race unprepared is rarely enjoyable and might prove to be a downright horrible experience souring your feelings towards ever doing one again. To avoid this take the time to get in shape so it can be a great experience that you will want to repeat again.

Training correctly for a half marathon usually takes a number of months; so you can properly build your mileage gradually over time to prevent injury. You’ll find that the average program takes 3 to 5 months to complete even when starting it in pretty good shape. That is running about 15 miles a week consistently. Follow the standard rule increasing 10% of your mileage each week and taking an easy week every three weeks. Allow enough weeks to run one or two long runs consisting of 14 or 15 miles each. This way you will go into the race confident that you can complete the distance. Make sure to incorporate speed work, cross training and strengthening exercises into your routine to keep you strong and injury free.

Train for the race route terrain. Nearly all races have the race route available in advance for you to review and adapt your training. Are there some considerable hills? If so, you will want to add hill repeats into your training plan. Will you be running on loose gravel, a trail, sand, grass or mostly pavement? Most likely there will be a variety of terrain; so practice on various surfaces. This may also effect what shoes you race and train with. You may need to consider altitude differences and add in some high altitude training sessions.

Create a race plan or strategy. Too often runners go into races with no plan in place; no race strategy. Even if you are not out to win it, you should still have a plan. The plan should include, pace variables, and a re-hydration/glucose strategy. Plan out how much water and electrolyte fluid you need to consume at each water stop. Study the map and learn where the water stops will be and what type of carbohydrate sources may be offered. Then practice with the same brand at the same intervals to see how your body tolerates it. Nothing is worse than having to stop and go to the restroom in the middle of a race. Having a plan can also help prevent you for “running out of gas” or “hitting the wall.”

Run your own race. In college, my coaches would often tell me to run my own race, which means to go the pace that I have trained for and not get caught up in the “race,” starting out too fast. It’s important to know your pace and stick to it, follow a plan. By varying your terrain and taking the time to train properly you will find that your half marathon experience will prove to be much more enjoyable.

Coach Lora Erickson is a USATF certified running coach and nationally ranked triathlete. Visit her website  for more information or email her directly: lora@blonderunner.com. Live healthy!


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