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  • Writer's pictureMikhail Kapitonov

How did I prepare for the Ragnar: an inspiring story about relay race participation in Sweden

You have never taken part in an epic relay race and would like to read more about other runners' experience? Or do you want to know more about various relay preparation techniques? Here you'll find what you're looking for.

Today we are sharing the story of Rickard Björnekärr from Escapist CrossFit in Berlin, who participated in Ragnar Relay Lake Mälaren in 2019. He tells about his way of getting ready for this race and describes what it looked like to run several laps in a relay race. Let's give the floor to Rickard:

This weekend I had an amazing experience with ten other guys doing the Ragnar Relay Lake Mälaren in Stockholm Sweden. This is the second race I’ve participated in I want to share why I think it is important to commit to doing things outside your wheelhouse. 

To be able to impart the true meaning with you, I believe it is important to share some of my perspective and that will make it easier for you to understand my paradigm.

So, let’s go back ten years to a time where I just took up training again for the 100th time. I went running every morning with a great friend and we sucked; we ran at a 7 minute pace. After a couple of months my running improved, but my pace was still slower than 6 minutes per km and I was running maximum 7-8km. Fast forward to today, and I’ve been able to run at 5 minute pace or below for 12km or below 5:30 for 16km: and without any running training at all.

So how did I prepare for the Ragnar?

This year I tried to train as when possible and that resulted in maybe three times a week of CrossFit classes and two times a week of training on my own in the park, in the basement, in the livingroom etc.

Six weeks from the competition I made a decision to get my nutrition better on point and therefore I hired our nutrition coach Marc to work with me for six weeks. My goal was to drop as much extra weight as possible and I weighed in at the beginning at 106 kg. To my positive surprise, Gerardo, David and Annett also joined the challenge and in addition to dialing in our nutrition, we committed to a training schedule of three days on/one day off (the classic CrossFit recipe), mixing CrossFit days with some running days. Since we all have tight schedules, we trained on the same day but maybe not at the same time, but still held each other accountable.

I had one issue and that was that my achilles had been really bad since February this year and the pain had not gotten better very much at all. I always woke up with a tight achilles, making me limp in the mornings and avoiding running or jumping too much. 

This obviously had to change, and the cure lay in mobility and working continuously on specific mobility drills.

The drills I did the most were the couch stretch, smashing of feet, calves and a lot of hip smashing. By Ragnar, almost all the pain was gone - for my first run, I had to do some calf smashing, but since then, I’ve been pain free.

Tuning in and getting the diet on point had many positive side effects, as my energy levels were great all day without any drowsiness sensations in the afternoon. My head felt clear and free from any fogginess. In the first two weeks I was down about 3kg and the progress was noticeable. Doing workouts became easier and my body was recovering quickly.

What was missing since the beginning was running, and even though running is fairly easy to do, the urge for it was minimal. Therefore my running was kept at once a week, where my longest distance was 12km. I knew this was not optimal for the race where my longest distance was 16km, but I saw it as a challenge too.

We all travelled to Sweden beginning of June and I did my last training on the Tuesday before the run on Saturday. We went down to Strängnäs on Friday and had a great team day prepping for the Saturday with buying food and gear for the run. We had a short night’s sleep due to our race starting at 7am the next morning. 

We finished the 285 km in 27 hours and all participants did great; we saw a lot of improvements and great spirits. My laps went ok, but I underestimated the heat and the sun and got dehydrated during my 16km run, which was my first one, and it took me 6 hours to bounce back from it. I believe I drank about 10L of water to which I also added sodium and magnesium, which enabled me to run my last two shorter heats of 6,2 km and 6,7 km runs. After runs my calves were really tight but I had no bigger issues or pain in my shins and my weight had dropped down to 99kg.

Would I recommend this preparation for anyone that wants to win the next marathon? No! But it shows that just doing CrossFit training combined with a proper diet you can manage to run at a decent pace and still be able to deadlift over 200kg, clean 130kg, do muscle ups, handstand push-ups and front squat 100kg for 15 reps (or I think I could do 20...).

Next year I will most likely do the same race again but before that I might do another challenge, but it is still to be determined.

What will your next challenge be?



We thank Rickard for sharing his experience, wish him luck with new adventures and join the question - what will your next challenge be? Could it be one of the epic relay races, what do you think?

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