Thursday, February 28, 2013

Life lessons learned from running my Ragnar Relay Race

The team at Ragnar Relay Miami finish line

Running a Ragnar Relay Race was truly life changing experience for me. In reflecting back on the race I've come to realize that there were many lessons to come out of it all.

If you read my five part race review you'll remember that I had some GREAT moments and I had some AWFUL moments but those moments all added up to get the team to a finish line nearly 200 miles from where we started.

Lessons learned from Ragnar:
  1. Planning. There is a popular saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail" and no where is that more immediately evident than during a Ragnar. From making sure you have the right recovery snacks on hand to packing your sneakers, you have to plan. If you forget your headlamp or reflective vest, you won't even be allowed out of the van never mind allowed to run! Planning for any goal is crucial. If your goal is to lose weight, you might plan your meals, you might plan when you're going to exercise and you might plan some time to peruse healthy recipes. Winging it just doesn't work for most.
  2. Preparation. Preparation goes hand and hand with planning. You must pack your bags, you must prep your race outfits, you must prep your fueling needs. I didn't prepare myself properly for the heat, for running in the middle of the night and probably didn't prepare (or plan) my nutrition properly and my middle of the night run was a disaster! In any goal you must take the steps. If you plan to eat clean and vegetarian for a week then you have to prep your vegetables and prepare your meals. If you plan to do Ironman you have to prepare with months and months of training. 
  3. Leaning on the team. When it comes to Ragnar as it is with any goal or challenge in life you are stronger when you work with a team and lean on the team when necessary. When you are weak, let others be strong. My team cheered me on when I was feeling exhausted, passed me water when I thirsty, got me to a restroom when the hydration was challenging my bladder and even ran a good few miles of my leg when my body cramped up. Whether you are running a relay or trying to lose weight - leaning on others for support, turning to them for advice and having a kind ear to vent to can make all the difference between reaching the finish line or finishing short. 
  4. Flexible. Even with all the planning and preparations in the world, sh*t happens. You must remain flexible when going for a goal. During Ragnar you'll have several instances where things will change and being able to roll with the punches gracefully will help you to be successful. During our race, the whole team had to be flexible and make all kinds of game day changes because of my miserable middle of the night run. Without the team stepping up and being flexible, we would've never made it to the finish line. I know many people who have a hard time with flexibility. For example - Bob has a six mile run planned for after work. Unfortunately a business meeting runs late and now Bob doesn't have time to run six miles. Being flexible means saying, "Oh well, I will run four then." Being unflexible means, "Forget it, if I can't do six I might as well not do any." Bob just got a little further away from his goal instead of moving four miles closer to it.  Don't laugh. Do you know how many people I know sabotage their dreams and goals because they look at things in such a black and white way? But in Ragnar, you have no choice to be flexible. 
  5. Just keep swimming. My five year old son is a big Finding Nemo fan. There is this dialogue between Dory and Marlin: Dory:"Hey Mr. Grumpy Gills... When life gets you down do you wanna know what you gotta do?" Marlin:"I don't wanna know what you gotta do." Dory:"Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim." When I was running my third leg and still unsure of whether I could do it or not I just kept thinking to myself, "Just keep running/moving/walking/crawling/swimming..." whatever. Perseverance is key and as long as you are going forward you are making progress. And with any goal, even when you feel like it's impossible, like you'll never find Nemo or get to the finish line, you just have to blindly "keep swimming" and have faith that you'll get there. Don't be the one so quick to give up.
  6. Celebrate the success and grow from the stumbles. Ragnar is awesome. When you cross 200 miles of road with a team it's an indescribable feeling. And each small step, each leg means something. With each step you celebrate getting closer to the finish line. Along the way their are stumbles, a nutrition choice that didn't work out, a sleep attempt foiled, a leg that has to be picked up by another, etc. The stumbles along the way to your goals are not anything to be upset by, they are learning tools whether you are gunning for a Ragnar Relay finish line or a finish line in any other area of your life.
What are some life lessons you've learned from Ragnar or any other race?

XO
Jen
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