Hold a race rehearsal. For overnight relays, participants typically run three times with two eight-hour breaks. Train your body for that routine by running once in the morning, once at night and then again the following morning. You won’t get the full effect of the race, which involves dealing with sleep deprivation and extra stiffness from riding around in a van for hours. But you’ll get a better sense of how quickly you can recover. “If you’ve ever done two workouts in one day, you know the second one feels completely different,” says Brian Danza, president of the D.C. Road Runners Club.
Practice alone. Danny Dreyer, creator of the Chi Running technique and author of “Chi Marathon” (Touchstone, March 2012), says each member of the team needs to figure out what he or she will be up against and practice for those specific conditions. One runner might have more hills, another might face a strong head wind, for example.
Pick teammates wisely. One of the pluses of relay racing is you don’t need to run at the exact same pace; a seasoned marathoner and someone who’s never participated in a race can pair up. But it’s important that everyone agree on your goals. “I look for a fun time, not a fast time,” says Justin Petitt, who’s participated in four Ragnar relays.