How to Survive a Relay Race (And Live to Tell the Tale)

While sitting in the airport on my way to the Ragnar Napa Valley Relay, I was told several times how crazy I was for doing relay races. “You don’t really survive and I don’t know why anyone would put that stress on their bodies.” – random grumpy guy next to me. Well, good news, buddy…you totally can survive. There are definitely tricks of the trade and I’ve got a few up my sleeve 😉

Whether it’s a Ragnar or another relay race, there’s something hilariously fun about constantly driving around in a decorated van with a team of 12 people who are all decked out in costumes, munching on a smorgasboard of food and goodies, keeping the windows down for the smell, cheering on teammates and other runners, pulling to the side of the road to sleep for 2.4 hours and having energy to all cross the finish line at the same time. 2013-06-22 18.20.01

Sounds a bit tricky, eh? Well, it’s somewhat easier than you think. Trust me. It’s totally doable! And there are great things about relay races – meeting new people & making new friends, traveling to new places, seeing new things, discovering new tricks/treats for your next running adventure and, if you’re planning on more races, it can be good for training.

So how to survive the lack of sleep and running on and off for 24 hours and be able to walk the next day? I’ve done a few Ragnar in my day (5 total-my favorites are the trail relays! Try them out). Here’s my 10 all-emcompasing tips I always share about relay races:

  1. Before you go, do your research. Become familiar with which legs you’ll be running. Know the distance. Know the elevation changes. Know if you’re running on pavement or dirt trails. Mentally prepare yourself for however long, short or strenuous your legs will be. story-27-ragnar-2-205914
  2. Do a pre-run shake out & post-run stretching. Regardless of what time it is. It could be hot or cold, windy or rainy. You might be running 9 miles or 2. It doesn’t matter-warm your body up and cool it down (and don’t eat too close to when you run). stretch-me-out-skinnyrunner_thumb
  3. Get out of the car any time you can! Take the chance to stretch your legs and body. Move around when you wait at the runner exchange. Don’t be sedentary and stay crammed in the car until it’s your turn to run. No bueno. Picture-8
  4. Share your goodies. Letting others eat your frozen banana-peanut butter bites is, strangely enough, a great way to bond. They might love them and it could start a running recipe exchange. By trying things everyone brings (a pot-luck of goodies), you’ll find things that you bring that others like and things others bring that you like and you might be surprised if you find yourself sick of the food that you brought. images-2
  5. Sore? Tired? Hungry? SO IS EVERYONE ELSE. So please, don’t whine. Do something about it! There will be food in the car – eat it. There will be jackets/pillows – take a nap on one. There will be moments to stop – get out and stretch. Duh. 1 Ragnar Lupe Sleeping
  6. Cheer on your team (and other runners). You never know when all that one person needs is a little encouragement from a random car passing by. You might hit your own mental wall and need some motivation from others! image25
  7. Take care of your team! Be aware if runners need more hydration, pain killers, gu or other things to munch on. If the weather changes, ask if the want their visor, jacket or more water. One of the BEST things that my team did for me during a 4 mile 2,000ft elevation climb in 99 degree weather – toss a spray bottle filled with ice water out the window. I spent that 45 minutes constantly squirting myself and other runners with cold water. Couldn’t have survived without them! 2013-06-22 12.46.53 2013-06-22 14.21.09
  8. TAKE WIPES. 24 hours of stinky runners crammed into a car-they’re a portable shower. Just trust me on this one. Remember, even liquid awesome can smell bad. 9a87f0f828a4854245d193affb6718eb
  9. Take pictures. Take them of your car decorations, the entire team at the starting and finish lines, runners smiling (or not) during their legs, people sleeping, strange things that happen, the scenery that you drive past, team members making funny shapes…anything and everything. Beautiful scenery (there’s tons on the Ragnar-pretty sure they do that on purpose). It’ll be more fun 🙂 422052_10100879747066799_1810023603_n
  10. If you’re not having fun AT ALL, you’re doing it wrong. Though there is a competitive air that comes with any race-Ragnar included-one of the greatest things about the Ragnar though is that it can be an absolute party. Seriously. Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 9.36.23 AM

Wear clothes that won’t but (or chafe you). Sleep any chance you get (for real). Make new friends. Have a team splurge meal after the race. Have a team meal before the race. 478876_10100245036698224_601272120_o

Love the new scenery-there are some absolutely beautiful running paths on the Ragnar. Embrace the craziness. Have massive amounts of fun. Run your own race. Own that 24+ hour relay like a total boss.

So, good people of the running world – keep calm and Ragnar on #fistpump

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Throwback Thursday-Running Lens

It’s Thursday…time to throw things back! To last September, at least.

I take my phone with me when I run. Mainly because I run by myself majority of the time, so it’s a precaution in case anything were to happen. I don’t always love carting it around. However, it has come in handy when I’ve come across some beautiful sunsets and sunrises, amazing views, unique experiences and other things I could only really see when I’m out running.

*If you follow my Instagram, some of these will be a repeat of what you’ve seen…sorry 🙂 Here’s some of my favorite photos I’ve captured while running in Utah, California and Washington (September 2012-September 2013):

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2012-09-27 11.19.51 2012-09-25 19.37.282013-01-28 17.16.27 2013-02-06 20.59.56 2013-02-04 08.13.09 2013-02-04 08.17.18 2013-01-28 17.28.25

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78792AB9-8804-44AB-BF22-E000D57F7B87 2013-04-28 12.08.49 2013-03-27 18.23.02 2013-05-26 19.23.27 2013-05-14 06.09.35 2013-06-13 11.44.212012-07-25 13.18.302013-05-06 18.16.14

2013-05-11 09.05.36 2013-05-14 06.09.35 2013-06-03 17.41.51 2013-06-16 22.32.07 2013-07-03 22.42.38 2013-07-10 21.01.21 2013-07-20 07.10.30 2013-08-01 21.48.45

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photo[3] 2013-08-02 20.16.42 2013-08-03 08.47.45 2013-08-18 16.12.26 2013-08-31 06.30.50 2013-09-01 08.31.06

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Good thing 2013 isn’t over yet! I’ve got a lot more runs, races and adventures to add to my folder and I can’t wait to see where my running shoes take me.

Lost Your Running Mojo? Time to Get it Back

Morning comes. You hit snooze three times before finally slinking out of bed to pull on your running shoes and hit the trail. You’d rather cut your exercise time down because of some tiny excuse that, at the time, seems like a totally legit reason to not go. You’re discouraged because you’re no longer loosing weight like you were months ago. You get tired, not physically…it’s more like you get sick of your workout routine and therefore just don’t want to do it.

Ever had this happen before? It happens to everyone – seriously. Losing your drive to exercise isn’t uncommon and the great news is that it’s not permanent! Only if you don’t allow it to be permanent, though. YOU have a whole lot of control over choosing to rekindle your love for pounding the pavement or leave it where it is and let things fizzle out.

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One of the biggest reasons I think we can loose our fitness mojo is because we forget that exercise, though it’s physically demanding, can be and should be fun. That’s right – FUN. When we were younger, running and biking were our main modes of transportation. The games we played centered around physical activity (Red Rover, street hockey, water gun fights, kick the can, steal the flag, all forms of tag) and we’d all run till our sides were sore and then keep running because the happiness we felt from the fun we were having outweighed the side stitches. I’ll get back to this – promise.

So what do you do when your exercise drive is gone? And how do you get over it? Well, it’s different for everyone.

Just like how you needed to change things or shift them around when you first started your path to personal fitness, you’ve got to do some shifting again. Some things may feel weird at first, especially if you’re not use to them yet. You may not initially like these changes. Trust me, it’ll be TOTALLY worth it in the end.

Here are a few tips for getting your mojo back! Try one of them; try a few of them. It’ll take time and patience to find something that works well and really lights a fire under you. Basically, you’ve got to find a way to put the ‘fun’ back into your run 🙂

  1. Change where you run – if you’re always running the same trails or the same streets, it’s time to find a new path! Find a new river trail or lake path to run along. Take a new turn, explore the area around you. One great way to do this is to run while on vacation! You’ll see new places, smells, people and it’ll help take your mind off of your lack of mojo.
  2. Join a running group/club – being accountable to someone or something helps get you out the door. It’ll also help you meet new people, which can refuel your motivation to get yourself pumped and excited to get up and move!
  3. Give yourself a destination – I love this one though it can be a little tricky. Run to work. Run to a friend’s house. Run to a new park. Plan a place where you’ll go to and get there-don’t worry about the time it takes, just enjoy the journey! The tricky part is that with things like this, if you don’t want to run back, you need to either leave a car somewhere so you can drive home or have someone come and pick you up.
  4. Change when you go – if you’re always running in the mornings, try an afternoon run or a mid-day run. Some of my best runs have been between 11pm and 1am (granted, I don’t go by myself on those). Believe it or not, just changing the heat, lighting and amount of city life can help you keep going.
  5. Mix it up – don’t underestimate the power of variety! To break up your long runs, add in a day of speed, sprints or “hills of insanity” (find a good, long incline, whether it’s in the city or out in the country, sprint/run up the hill to the top, do a 1 min plank, jog back down–do 3xs).
  6. Run without a watch – if you know you’ve got a good chunk of time with no appointments to be to, don’t take your watch. Just run. Don’t be afraid to stop, stretch and look around you. Don’t worry about how fast you’re running or how many miles you’ve gone – just run.
  7. Quit your old playlist – running tunes slowing you down? Scrap the playlist you’ve got and start a fresh one! Ask friends for suggestions of their favorites for running. Pick songs that make you happy AND motivate you. If you need to, rock out on the trail mid-run. It helps.
  8. Healthy is happy – check out your food intake. Has anything changed? Maybe you’re a little more lenient with the sugar? Decide if you need to make some adjustments and then STICK TO THEM! It’s hard – totally doable though.
  9. Hit the trails – if you’re a city runner, time to head to the mountains. Fresh air, unsteady terrain, killer climbs and amazing views help to clear the demons from your head and keep you going.
  10. Race, race, race – sign up for races. Giving yourself a goal will help pump the motivation back into your muscles! If you want to go further, pick a marathon or half marathon to run in 6 months and add in 5k/10k races into your training.
  11. Too tired to run? – instead of not running, break up your run with walking breaks. That being said, I’m more of a fan of speed walking breaks. Run when you feel you can, if you need a break, take one! Just don’t STOP-keep moving! Something to keep your heart rate up, to keep your legs moving and to keep moving your forward!
  12. Pool running – might sound a little crazy, but it’s amazing. AND it’ll help you get in your “running” workout without overheating on the pavement.
  13. Have a daily goal – Scott Jurek says “Maybe it is a technique goal, maybe a pace goal, maybe a goal of running faster at the end…” Give yourself something specific to work on for each workout.
  14. New suede shoes – well, running shoes aren’t suede, but getting a new pair along with new shorts or tops will help you want to use them. If you feel you look good in your workout getup, you’ll want to wear them and show them off! Win-win.
  15. Reward yourself – for small things, like running 0.06 seconds faster than your last run or adding more miles to up your distance. Give yourself something to look forward to-your favorite iced drink, a new running top, chocolate milk (hey, it works). Anything. Little rewards for small accomplishments, big awards for big accomplishments. A favorite of mine is to schedule a massage after I finish a race and that’s my reward for my training and performance 🙂

Something important to keep in mind when getting your running mojo back is to listen to your body. Maybe you’ve just plateaued. On the other hand, maybe your body has been overworked and needs a break. One week, one month – listen to your body! Cross train. Stretch. Nourish your muscles with proper fuel and hydration.

It’ll take work. It’ll take time. It’ll take patience. It’ll take experimenting and figuring out what works for you.

Runner Resting with Hands on Knees --- Image by © Bernd Vogel/Corbis

Good news is – it’s ALWAYS worth it.

The Day I Became A #sweatpink Ambassador

For starters, I don’t believe in bad days. There are good days and great days – never ‘bad’ ones. That’s just my belief. Mainly because you choose whether or not it’ll be good or great. That also means that you choose if you’re going to let the things that happen during the day influence you to choose to have it be a bad day. There are bad things that can happen and we can decide if it’ll taint the entire day or just that piece of it. Confused? I’ll write more about it soon.

So. Now that that’s explained…it was a great Monday. Why was it so great?

  • Started the day off with yoga & TRX
  • Had a delicious breakfast (avocado & tomatoes on whole wheat toast)
  • Hit every green light on my way to work (ka-ching!)
  • Finished all my work projects early
  • Learned my sister and brother-in-law are moving back to Utah
  • My new Lululemon Bitty Bracer bra finally came in the mail (I’ll write a quick review on this later-all you need to know right now is that I love it. One of the best sports bras I’ve had)
  • Found $20 in my back pocket
  • New pair of Newton Running Shoes came – LOVE these guys
  • After work I was meeting up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years for a trail run

Sounds like an overall great day, right? Right! I got home and changed to go running. While heading out the door, I was skimming through emails on my phone and read, “Sweat Pink Ambassador – welcome to the team!” Honestly, when I first read it, I thought I had read it wrong. I had submitted the application form to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador about a month earlier and hadn’t heard anything, so I for sure did a double-take! Read through the email. Giggled with excitement. Started my car with a HUGE smile on my face. Turned the radio on and this song was playing:

Went and picked up my friend Jess, told her about my new Sweat Pink adventure and the rest of the car ride consisted of us brainstorming what gear/clothes I could buy that are hot pink. You know, to match the awesomeness of it all. We got to to trail, singing and dancing along to the radio, and began the 12 mile loop. With our dance backgrounds combined with a great day, great news, the excitement of seeing each other and the songs stuck in our heads, there were moments during the run that were kinda like this:

Yes, we may have skipped, grooved, body-rolled and cartwheeled numerous times. And yes, we’d stop, strike a pose, and sing to the valley from the side of the mountain. You know, keeping things fun on the trail. I just hope it was quality entertainment for the houses that backed the trail.

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So now I get a sweet badge on the side of my blog (see?) and I have mass connections to other fitness ladies in the exercise world. They’re all super supportive, willing to help, comfortable to ask any questions and love every level of exercise. It’s great 🙂 And I’m convinced that I actually do run faster in pink shoe laces. FAmantramailer01

Best day ever? This year…pretty much. It was amazing.

{and I recommend that you all try dance walking at some point-it’s actually very freeing}

Why I Trail Run

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Why I Trail Run

I run to feel.
I run outside to live.
I run in the mountains to find myself.
I trail run because it makes me happy.

This is EXACTLY how I feel every time I reach a summit or end of a trial. With my heart pounding, lungs and legs burning, I put my hands on top of my head, look around, breathe in deep and soak in all of the smells, sights and sounds. And each time-every single time-I think, “This is it. I’ve found my happy.” And I smile.
Even though it’s only one thing that brings happiness, it’s good enough for me.