training for running races sucks no matter what, but there is a marked difference between training for a regular half marathon and ragnar. each has their advantages and disadvantages!
- distance: a half marathon is 13 miles all at one go. a normal person finishes in about 2 hours or so, , with a slower than average person (me) finishing between 2.5-3 hrs. either way, training for a half is all about making sure you get your distance in. you can work on stamina, but really, your pace can be pretty static, hills can be pretty minimal, and you can go on auto pilot. for me, the distance was ok up until about 9 miles; body parts just started to hurt a lot at that point. i kept pushing through, though, and if you can run through the pain (and remember to take ibuprofin beforehand), just going can be ok.
the ragnar, on the other hand, is broken into three loops: 7, 4, and 3 miles. each of those distances is more than achievable on their own for me. but they are all within a short time period, so while your leg muscles are recovering from the 7 mile, you need to get going on the 4. i’ve been training for ragnar so far in loose clothing, and today i ran a 7 mile trail run in my loose shorts then the 4 mile in my compression pants. there was a pretty big difference between the two, so i think wearing compression pants the entire ragnar is going to make a huge difference for me as long as i keep training in loose clothes.
- hills: generally i stay away from hills. hills suck. but ragnar trail is all hills, so i’ve been training out in the st. john’s woods on trails. that way i get a taste of running on uneven terrain as well as up and down hills. you’d think running down hills would be the easy part, but it takes a lot of leg work to make sure you don’t go all out on some of them. i’ve been running mostly trails for about three weeks now, and ragnar is in two. i hope my consistent trail and hill running will overcome my lack of stamina and speed. cuz interval training sucks!
- the view: depending on where you run your half, it can be pretty boring. city running, amid buildings. i’ve run through parks in a half, but it’s pretty urban. the ragnar is all woods, which is pretty exciting. being out in the trees while you’re running is pretty perfect for me. unfortunately, i’m so intent on watching the ground so i don’t trip over a rock, root, or divot, that a lot times i miss out on the scenery. weirdly enough, while i’m out at st. john’s, i get pretty close to the freeway, so i’m out running in the trees and nature with the whine of I-94 as soundtrack.
- your knees: concrete ruins my knees. we ran on on concrete for the firecracker four mile in la crosse, and my knees hurt for a week afterward. asphalt is decent enough to run on for my knees as long as i don’t go crazy fast (9-min mile) down hills. trails? bring it on. up hills, down hills, slow, fast: my knees are like LALALALLALA this is awesome! dirt is great for my knees.
- shoes: buy road shoes for road running. buy trail shoes for trail running. that’s all.
- the best part: both training options leave a lot of opportunities to eat a lot of food.
so today i ran 6.75 miles in the early afternoon and 5 miles around 7:30. tomorrow i’m going to try to do 3 miles at some point. my legs are already rubber.