We think everyone has a marathon in their legs. Well….at the very least a marathon relay, and where better to start than the Edinburgh Marathon Festival Team Relay ? What else are you going to do with your day on Sunday 27th May 2018?!
But what on earth is a marathon relay? Basically, it’s where you share the fun of 26.2 miles between four of you, with the longest leg (in Edinburgh’s case) being 8.3 miles and the shortest leg being a pretty palatable 4.4 miles. Doesn’t sound quite so gruelling now does it!
2018 is our sixth year of joining in the excitement of this wonderful event, with a 10 week training programme taking place in Glasgow’s stunning Pollok Country Park every Saturday morning, to help build up cardiovascular and running fitness.
It’s a very progressive 10 weeks, which is accessible for everyone no matter what their running ability. For example, amongst our athletes we have someone who’s going to run the full marathon, another who has had a significant accident and struggles with walking, and others who are somewhere in between.
When people first join us, they understandably feel a bit nervous, anticipating what’s in store, but we quickly see a strong commitment to the training: we all feel the same sense of achievement and are supported by each other, no matter which level we are at.
“I almost didn’t come. When I was sat outside your house I was making up reasons in my head not to go. I’ve been up since 7am nervous about going, which is ridiculous, but glad I went. And glad you sent that email as I needed something to make me move.”
So how do you train for a marathon relay?
At the outset we split our training sessions equally between outdoor circuit training and actual running. As we get closer to the actual event, this proportion shifts towards more running.
Our circuit training focuses particularly at balance and core stability, building up muscle endurance – short, sharp circuit training. We focus on six core exercises, often training in pairs: single leg balances, rotation planks, gentle back extensions, hopping drills, balancing side lunges and the dreaded mountain climber (not that there are any mountains on the marathon course 😊). We tend to stick to the same exercises so that people can see their progress each week. As we reach the half way stage in our ten week programme, the durations will decrease but the intensity goes up, requiring more effort.
We take the same approach for the running, building up distance and duration each week, to reach between 4-5 miles in our training session, and throwing in some fartlek training for good measure.
We also know it’s hugely important to support people’s training outside the Saturday morning team sessions, so we’ve got an online members training zone which they can access. This provides home workouts, core workouts specific for runners and then running sessions to do on their own as well – very short sessions as we know time is a scarce commodity for most of us!
Keeping up our team spirit, we provide a bus to take the teams to Edinburgh, stocked up with some fruit and energy boosting food to help you run your best, and some dark chocolate treats for the way back. The bus is a funny place – on the way you can feel the sense of anticipation, particularly for people who are taking part for the first time, whilst on the way back there’s noisy jubilation and a massive sense of achievement….not to mention looking forward to meeting up with friends and family for a celebratory team meal back in Glasgow.