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One of the more important things to remember when running a relay, is to hold on the baton. When instructing a team of runners on how to run a relay race, this point should be emphasized. In most meets where relay races are run, there is a rule that any team who drops the baton, and it leaves the surface of the track, is disqualified.
Keeping possession of the baton is an easy thing to do, and if practiced, as is more necessary for the 4 x 100m and 4 x 200m relays with blind handoffs, will allow your team to remain in the race.
The strategies for how to run a relay race deal mostly with the order of the runners. Who runs first, who runs second, and so on? The most popular strategy for running a successful relay race is running your best runner last, and your worst runner third.
The second best runner will run first, or "lead off" the race, and the remaining runner runs second. This strategy of saving your best runner for last is used mostly because that runner will know what they have to do in order to win the race by the time they receive the baton.
If the team is leading, they simply need to run in control and maintain the lead. If the team is behind, then the last runner, or the "anchor," has to try to make up the distance to the leading team. This is something that your best runner should be able to handle, and thus would give the team the best chance to win.
The classic approach to building speed is running intervals. How many at what distance would vary with the event you're aiming at. The longer the distance you plan to race, the longer the distance you'd repeat during your interval workouts.
Intervals are typically run at distances shorter than those at which you race, and at a pace faster than your race pace. Between repetitions, you would jog a set distance or amount of time - usually not long enough for full recovery.
Running hills is another good way to build speed. Hill workouts are similar to interval workouts, except of course you're running uphill repeats.
For runners who compete at longer distances, "fartlek" (from a Swedish term meaning "speed play") can be a nice break from running long interval workouts on the track. Fartlek can be as informal as varying your running speed between telephone poles while running on the road.
Finally, some runners find that adding weight lifting to their training program helps improve speed. This is especially true for those racing at relatively shorter distances.
The exchange of the baton is very important in relay races. This is where a runner completing their leg passes the baton to the next runner beginning their leg. In most races, this is where the team can loose time and position, or be disqualified. When a runner is finishing a leg and is preparing to hand off the baton to the next runner, the passing of the baton takes place in the exchange zone.
This zone is marked off on the track, and is the only place where the baton can pass from one runner to the next. If the baton is handed off outside of this area, the team is disqualified. This is usually not a problem in most longer races, but in the shorter races where the speed is greater, this becomes a delicate issue. When the exchange of the baton is practiced frequently, the exchage goes smothly, and the team can continue without hesitation. It is when this exchange is not practiced, where teams will face the most difficulty.
Running a relay race is not always easy to do. Relay teams are usually made up of the best athletes on the team, and as such, are very selective. There is also an aspect to the relay race that is not involved in the other races: the baton. Running with a baton, and passing a baton, are both things that a runner usually does not have to think about while running a race.
In a relay, you must ensure that you always maintain possession of the baton, and when it comes time to pass it, you must make it gets to the other runner without dropping it. Dropping the baton can cause a team to slow down, or in some cases, be disqualified.
Relay races are very fun and very exciting. They involve teams of four runners, each running a separate race, known as a leg. The relay race begins when the first of the four runners begins their leg, and ends when the fourth runner finishes their leg.
In order to continue the race without starting a new one at the end of each leg, the four runners pass a stick, known as a baton, to each other, signifying the end of one leg, and the start of another. The runners carry the baton during their entire leg.
Relay races are not only for adults or experienced runners. There are also relay races for kids. Running a relay race for kids can develop a sense of team. The races are always supervised by adults, and cover much shorter distances.
These races might not be as fast or as long as others, but they are just as fun to watch and be a part of. The children have a much better time running relays than other events because they can do it as a team, not on their own.
Relay races are not necessarily always running, but can cover many events in track and field. There are all types of relays ranging from the hurdles to the high jump, but field event relays are only run in special meets. All running relays have two things in common: four athletes are comprise a team, and the sum of their efforts are the result for the team. This is what that makes watching relays so exciting; very member of the team needs to be successful in order for the relay team to succeed.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|