Warm Up With a Marathon Relay
Telling everyone you’re training for a marathon can seem impressive, and you might feel compelled to jump right in feet first now that you’ve taken up running. However, deciding to run a full or half marathon is a big deal, especially if you’re relatively new to the running scene. Unlike 5k road races, marathons as events are intimidating. Most have thousands of participants, unlike your local 5k that has a couple hundred runners show up, most of whom are just looking for a fun way to be active on a Saturday morning. At a marathon you will encounter elite athletes who are trying to reach qualifying times for various races, possibly even the Olympic trials depending on which marathon you’re doing. There are pacing groups. There are crowded porta-potties before the race and along the course. And there are people. So SO many people. And if all these periphery stressors affect your race, you will have to spend time recovering before you can jump back into another marathon.
If you’re more than a little intimidated by crowds but still want run a full or half marathon, running in a relay is a great option. A relay gives you the chance to get your feet wet in the marathon scene without including the full-on pressure of actually running 13.1 or 26.2 miles. You’ll get to see what the crowd is like and get a feel for how pacing groups work along with your 2-3 best running buddies. Best of all, you don’t actually need to run the full thing and you’ll still get great swag at the end!
Most full marathon relays are divided among 4 racers, with distances of 4-7 miles per racer (depending on the race), and half marathon relays are often just split down the middle between two runners who run 6.55 miles each. You’ll get to cheer on your buddies and celebrate together afterwards. If you’re just starting to get into running, training for a relay is a great way to get motivated to run along with your friends. You all have the exact same goal–to perform well during your relay–so you’ll all be extra motivated to push each other during hard runs.
Spring is in full bloom, which means races are filling up. So grab a friend or two, register for a relay, and have a great time enjoying a marathon event without running the whole thing! But be warned–the energy and excitement of the race just might have you signing up for the full half marathon next year!