Rachel Ragona Orange Mud 

Athlete: Rachel Ragona

Lives City/State: SoCal

Go to Orange Mud Gear: Hydraquiver Single Barrel

Primary Sport: Running.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your passion, your joy in life, anything

special you’d like to share.

I'm just a gal who loves to run. My joy in life is my family and striving for badassery.

What sports do you participate in?

Trail and road running

What is your favorite race food?

There are so many! I love Lara Bars and Justin's almond butter packets for longer races. And homemade banana-nut cookies. They feel like a comforting treat to look forward to.

What is your go to hydration mix?

CarboPro and CarboPro-C5.

Do you have a major quirk you’d like to share?

Again, there are so many... I'm super scared of heights, so always email RDs asking if there are any exposed cliff/drop-off sections if I don't know the course.

If you were relate to an animal, what would it be?

A whippet.

If a newbie to your sport asked for one piece of advice, what would it be?

I'd say refrain from competitive/comparative workout tracking sites and devices to start with. It's easy to get caught up in numbers and what you "should" be doing (because you see others logging X miles per week, etc.) instead of enjoying the innate act of running. Starting out is all about falling in love with the sport, learning your body and finding your niche.

Do you have any racing pet peeves? (Gel packets, mud, thorns, smelly runners, etc).

Any sort of trash left on the road or trail is probably my biggest peeve. I always stuff my trash in my pack or waistband till the next trash can; it's not that hard!

What do you do for fun?

Cooking is fun for me. I'm really enjoying creating healthy treats for the kids and homemade versions of standard sports nutrition options.

What is your post race ritual?

I gulp down a recovery shake and change clothes within 30-minutes of finishing. Then I feel human again and ready to hang out for a while.

How long have you been running?

I ran to commute for a few years after moving to the US because I didn't have a Drivers license. Coming from England (lots of public transport; no need for a car) to California was a bit of a shock! I have been racing about 6-7 years with several long breaks for injuries and my babies.

Why do you enjoy the sport?

Running takes me to my happy place. Racing adds the challenge of new courses, new distances and trying to better yourself. Running is so simple and yet not. I love that it represents grit and determination and a willingness to suffer, but also a confluence of wonderful people.

What's your favorite trail race?

It's hard to have a favorite per se, with so many vastly different races. But I will always have a soft spot for the Bulldog 50k. It was my first ever trail race and first ultra.

What's your favorite local trail?

I just raced in Paramount Ranch for the first time, thanks to Keira Henninger, and have been back twice to re-run the course. Super pretty and you get to see horses! I normally run with the kids in the stroller though, so have a lovely 40 minute street loop around the nearby lake.

What's your go to piece of Orange Mud gear and why?

The HydraQuiver Single Barrel. Most of my runs are pretty short and this is perfect for carrying a little water, keys and my phone without getting in the way or feeling bulky. But it is also perfect or up to 50k as well, since I can stash my Carbopro refills in the shoulder pockets!

Profession and educational background?

My degree is in Physiology and Sports Nutrition, so much of my career has been centered around the Health/Wellness and Fitness industry. Since we started a family, the kids take up most of my time!

What is your biggest accomplishment in your sport?

Finishing five, 100-mile races within a year of my first 50-miler (which included breaks to pump breastmilk for my newborn!) was pretty amazing, although probably a little foolish physically! I think the more important accomplishment from that was learning my body's limits and how to be better at working within them.

Do you have a set training schedule and if so, what's it like? If not, how do you decide what to do?

I don't have a set schedule. I have had many injury setbacks; plus the challenge of trying to plan around young kids who don't always want to get in the stroller or sleep so I can rest and get up early to train! My method is to do *something* most days, whether it's a quick stroller run or a SPINNING class and some strength training at the gym. And if I want a longer or trail run, I'll often try to schedule a local race. I decide mainly based on what I can fit in, how the kids are and how my body is feeling. I do log my training, old-school, in a notebook, but the key for me is keeping it constantly varied to avoid pesky overuse injuries.

What's your dream race?

I'd love to try Western States one day. I also want to run the London Marathon. I'll never forget watching Paula Radcliffe break the WR in 2003 and deciding that I wanted to someday finish a marathon.

Favorite book for athletes?

I mostly read research journals if I want something aligned with training. I was impressed with Jack Daniels' Running Formula though. It's definitely more of a raining book than entertainment, but I feel like I learned a lot.

Do you listen to audiobooks or music during exercise?

I definitely listen to music at the gym. Not as much while running, although I sometimes put it on speakerphone if I want a boost or "company". Never earbuds though. They never stay in and I don't like not hearing my surroundings.

What advice would you give to a new runner coming into the sport?

I'd say refrain from competitive/comparative workout tracking sites and devices to start with. It's easy to get caught up in numbers and what you "should" be doing (because you see others logging X miles per week, etc.) instead of enjoying the innate act of running. Starting out is all about falling in love with the sport, learning your body and finding your niche.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I get a major sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from running. Where I've been in life, and where I want to go... those are the things that keep me running, pushing through the setbacks and crushing personal goals, year in, year out.

Have you struggled with any injuries? How do you manage them?

Yes! I often quip that over the years I've spent more time NOT running due to injuries! I have pretty vulnerable joints, and develop chronic injuries easily and frequently. I manage them by trying not to do too much of any single activity, since the repetition seems to be a key factor for me. Ironic for an ultra-runner! But a stint on the elliptical followed by a stroller run is far less injurious [to my body] than trying to get through a 90-minute run. I've also embraced walking. When I started out, I was all about going X miles without stopping. But walk-breaks aren't stopping; it's active recovery to help maintain better running form. And in trail running - especially hilly ones - it's a legit and effective race tactic.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I'm so grateful to be part of the OM family. You guys are authentic and awesome in every way. I'm also forever indebted to my own family. Without them, I would not be here, and it's because of them I'll someday be able tell my story.

What was the best advice you were ever given?

In terms of running, "It's meant to be fun" and "you only have one body; use it carefully". That's always stuck with me. Sure, it's sometimes a gnarly, tear filled grind to get to that finish line (or not; finishes are never guaranteed), but at the end of the day, running is first and foremost meant to be a fun form of fitness and a way to release. We (except maybe elite/world class athletes) don't run to pay our bills, so no training schedule or race is worth making ourselves unhappy or causing long-term physical damage.

What is your favorite local running or biking store?

I get my race fuels from Feed The Machine and my favorite running store is Fleet Feet because the carry OM and Altra!

What blogs and social profiles would you like us to feature here? 

IG @rachelragona

FB \rachel.ragona