Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Running a Ragnar Relay if You're Slow

This question has been posed many times to me.   Can you run Ragnar Relay (or any 24 hour relay) if you're slow?

Yes, of course.  

And you're not slow!

First, slow is relative.  If I'm running with Ryan Hall, then yes I'm slow but if he's out for an "easy run", (and has a broken leg) then it's not slow.  If he's running marathon pace (about 4:45 a mile) then I'm slow.  But it doesn't really matter what the pace is in a relay.

Then what's important?

It is important that you are on an appropriate team.  If the team is running an average of 7 min miles and is competitive, then your pace of 10 min miles isn't appropriate for that team.  But it is perfect for the team where the average pace is a 9 min mile.  But wait, you'd still be the slowest person.  Not really.  If the average pace is 9 min miles then you have some people running 8's and some running 11's.  Depending on the pace and the length each person is running, changes the average.

You may not realize it but when selecting a team or some one is looking for a team mate, there is an interview process. It may be formal (like it was for my friends running the Florida Keys) or it may be a casual conversation.  If a team is competitive they will ask specific questions and make sure the person is equally matched.  Just as if you are looking for a team, you'll ask questions to make sure your getting on the right team. If you are on the team, you are THE PERFECT PACE.  Quit fretting.

One thing that is important is to accurately guestimate your pace.  The contradiction of accurately estimating your pace isn't lost on me.  How can you accurately guestimate 3 runs over 24 hours?  The best thing to do is run a 10K race to figure out your race pace. The next best thing is run 6 miles at a pace where you are pushing it (no, not sprinting).  Let's say I can run 6 miles at a 9:20 pace.  I would report that at 9:20 or 9:30. Most of the race calculators take into account elevation changes or length of the run (as the run gets longer, the pace gets slower). 

It makes a difference what pace you give your team captain because they use that to request a starting time. Your pace is also used to guestimate everyone's time to figure out when the next person runs or when the next van starts.  Everyone's paces helps plan the race while it's running. 

One year in Del Sol Ragnar I was van captain and had an opening and I hadn't learned the importance of interviewing a runner.  She first said she ran 6:30's.  At that point I should have asked more questions because not as many females trying to be picked up on a team run 6:30's for 6 miles.  Then she changed her pace to 8:30's.  I built the spreadsheet based on her 8:30's.  She actually ran 11's and threw off the entire schedule.  It didn't matter that she ran 11's but I wanted to build that into the schedule.

So does it matter if you're slow?  Remember slow to you is fast to someone else. Where you may be fast, someone else on the team is slower.   Everyone is a runner and tries their best during the race.  It's about running together and making memories on zero sleep, upset stomach and very sore muscles.

For more things Ragnar, check out my page with tips for packing, training and my race reports.

Happy Running!


Giorgio said...

You think we have to choose an appropriate team ... as a consequence, if I wanted to increase my speed I would have to change the team :)
Have nice runs!

Johann said...

I agree with the team being right. If everyone is on the same page of what is expected it makes the whole relay more fun.

Black Knight said...

The team is important to become faster ... but I injured my knee when I began to do all my workouts with a group.