Ready, Set, Ragnar: Catching up With Team Nuunjas July 11, 2014 16:27

We are having a blast supporting Ragnar Relay Series participants across the USA and have met some amazing runners along the way. We are pleased to showcase our next runner, Tiffany Henness. Tiffany (aka Hutch) recently raced in the Wasatch Back Ragner series with Team Nuunjas and used our ensō roller to help with training and recovery. We caught up with Tiffany and her team. Read below to hear all about her Ragnar experience, tips for Ragnar newbies, and 

Before Ragnar, we wanted to know...

What inspired you to sign up for Ragnar Wasatch Back
I have ran 3 other Ragnars, plus to other long distance relays. This will be my first Ragnar outside of California. I’ve always thought it would be great to do the original Ragnar and heard how beautiful it was to run.

Tell us about your team!
Our team is made up of runners from all over the US and I don’t think anyone knows everyone! The one thing that ties us together is that we’re all ambassador for Nuun Hydration (or are friends with someone who is) and we all run. We have Boston Marathoners and midpackers. Some of us are running bloggers.

Steve - New Jersey
Sanita Smith - New Jersey
Cameron Smith - New Jersey
Carmen - New Jersey
Meggan Roth - New Jersey
Katie Key - Greenville, South Carolina
Lisa - Colorado
Katie - Oregon
Tiffany - California
Megan Fay - Seattle, Washington
George Okinaka - Las Vegas

How is your team approaching the race - are you taking it seriously OR just running for fun?
I think we’re running for fun. I hope we are! Ha. I know we have some very competitive runners on the team. A few of us are using the relay as part of training for marathons later in the year. Some are recently recovered from injures and just planning on taking it easy and enjoying the run.

What’s your training like- describe a typical week.
We all have our own race schedules and I believe most of us are race ready year round because we all run a lot. That being said, I have been recovering from a foot injury so my training was definitely with this race in mind. I’m a flatlander who is going to die in the altitude no matter what, so I just tried to run several times a week, use a treadmill at an incline, and pray for the best!

What are some essential must-have items that you will be taking with you as a team and as an individual?
As a team, of course we must have our Nuun tablets to drink. Those will be provided of course. We’ll also bring our headlamps and other safety gear. Someone is bringing their GoPro camera so we can get some video. I’m bringing my LightGUIDE LED Armbands for extra night visibility and my favorite red buff, which I often use to cover my ears on cold runs or soak with water to keep me cool on hot runs.

Sanita - Must have Garmin
Steve - Must have Garmin and music
Katie - Must have music
Lisa - Phone

Tell us about your team outfit choices.
Our “costume” is fairly simple - ninja headbands and a few ninja like accessories. The rest of it will be our typical running clothes. Running comfort is a bit more important to us than costume.

After Ragnar, we asked...

If you could sum up this past Ragnar Relay in 2 words, what would they be? Exhaustingly Beautiful!

What did you and your learn about yourselves and each other by doing Ragnar?  
I feel like every time I do one of these I realize that I have a mental battle to fight and I have to learn how to be better at fighting that mental battle. I always come away thinking how glad I am for indoor plumbing, a bed I can stretch out on, and real food I can sink my teeth. I learned my team members are badasses and smart runners. They know when to call it quits if they’re hurting and they know when it’s time to fly by everyone else.

What is your favorite Ragnar memory?
I think flying down Park City hill on twisty single track was my favorite memory. It just felt good to be RUNNING and confident that I could navigate the roots and rocks on the trail. I passed 9 runners coming down that hill and that is when I felt strongest and most free. It reminded me why I love trail running so much.

What was your overall impression of the ensō muscle roller?
Incredibly versatile! In fact, I think there are too many options that I sometimes get a little stuck wondering what I should do with it next. I think it is a great design, like a multi-purpose recovery tool.

Knowing that all of your team gave the EvoFit ensō roller try, do you think it helped with recovery, stiff muscles during the relay? How else did it help?
The ensō roller definitely helped. I personally didn’t get as stiff/sore during this relay as in ones past. However, AFTER the relay I definitely tightened up. It’s nice that the ensō is portable so I could have it post relay as well. Just because you’re done with the relay doesn’t mean you are home free yet!

Would you continue to use the ensō roller in your day-to-day running practice? How do you think it could help with your performance and recovery?
I’ll definitely keep using the ensoō roller, probably primarily for my feet! I have flat feet and the arches get sore very easily. Makes running a lot less comfortable. Being able to roll them out on the bar with two discs elevating the bar is great. So much better than trying to roll my arches on a glass bottle or trying to get my husband to give me a foot rub.

What was the hardest part about Ragnar? The easiest? The most fun?
The hardest part about this Ragnar was the altitude and my general loss of running fitness since I got injured. It was my first in over a year and I’m still building my base back. I could feel that. The easiest part was running with almost all strangers. I actually really enjoy relay teams where you don’t know everyone. It makes the journey more fun. So yeah, the most fun part was seeing my new friends run hard and sharing the experience with them.

What advice/tips do you have for the team members who are running the Ragnar for the first time?
If you’re running Ragnar for the first time, be prepared to be flexible and make fun priority number. You may or may not run the exact mileage advertised. Your legs may or may not be at the time of day you anticipated. You can plan for these things, but if they change, and they probably will, you can’t let it steal the joy of the experience from you.

After completing the Ragnar Relay, how would you recommend training for it?
It really depends on your legs for any relay. However, it is obvious that if you don’t live at 6,000 feet you would benefit from doing some runs at 6,000 to 8,000 feet. I know one of my teammates is going to get an altitude mask to train with and simulate having less oxygen while she runs.

When comparing a Ragnar Relay with a 10K or half marathon, for instance, how would you suggest another runner pace him/herself and what would you suggest they do for recovery during their legs?
If they are experienced runners, I’d say they can approach each leg like a 10k. Physically and mentally they should be able to push through each leg and have enough time to recover to be ready to do it again and again. For beginner runners, I’d tell them to approach it like a half marathon. Don’t run too hard in the beginning and save something for the second half of the race. It’s better to finish your last leg feeling like you were strong than to struggle through it and have that be the last run you remember the relay by. As for recovery, it is important that you force yourself to eat something solid when your van is resting and when it’s about 2 to 3 hours before your next run. Sometimes that means you have to stuff down solid food at 3 AM and you really don’t feel like it. However, you’ll be glad you did when you’re starting your 8 mile leg at 5 AM because you’ll have energy in your body.

What running mantra, if any, did you use to keep you going, keep you motivated?

On my longest leg I was struggling about half way through. So, silly as it sounds, I thought of my puppy, Moxie. She’s just under 4 months old and she’s our first dog as a married couple. So she’s like a fur kid. I sang a little made-up song to her, telling her that I was on my way home. It made me laugh but gave me something to think about so I could keep pushing forward.

You can follow Tiffany on her Blog, Facebook, and Twitter. And make sure to check out her awesome product review of the ensō roller here