At least once a year, it seems like runners all talk about what their upcoming race schedule looks like. Most of the time, a schedule greatly depends on the type of runner you are, but there can also be a few other factors. Here are some ways to help you plan your upcoming races- or at least help understand how others make theirs.
Do you have a goal race?
This should be the first question you ask yourself. If you have a goal race, then the other races you schedule should support your training schedule for that race. For example, if you plan to run a marathon and your schedule calls for a 20 mile run with some goal pace miles, it is probably not the best idea to race a 10k on the same weekend. Your legs will not receive the benefit from the goal pace miles for your long run, and will also be tired from the pace you held during the 10k. Racing distance that do not help your goal race can be detrimental to your training as they can really tire your legs for the upcoming workouts in the week ahead.
My favorite way to race during marathon season is to enter in a few half marathons and turn them into long runs. I’ll either tack on some warm up miles, cool down miles, or both to reach my scheduled distance for the day. Earning a medal and running with course support is a great way to keep your mind off of the distance, and to practice your race day tactics too!
Do you want to travel or stay local?
Does your city or town offer a lot of races to choose from, or will you have to travel to find a race that suits you? If you can race pretty close to home, that makes life a bit easier. You don’t have to worry about taking off of work to travel or reserving that hotel room months in advance. You can also use your money to enter into more races, rather than paying for plane tickets and travel expenses. However, racing out of town is not at all a bad thing. You get a completely new race experience and course. Having the excuse for a runcation is always a lot of fun – I mean, what’s better than exploring a new city by running 26.2 miles on foot?
Are you running with friends?
Traveling in a group can either make things harder or easier, depending on who you are traveling with. Be sure to fully understand everyone’s agenda for the trip and learn to be a bit flexible. Remember, you don’t necessarily have to do every single activity together either. Have a loose schedule to follow – how and when you are getting to the expo, your pre-race meal, etc. – and the rest of the trip should be a piece of cake.
What type of year is best for racing for you?
Some people thrive running in warmer weather and others just hate running in the cold. Look at your most important races’ average temperatures and try your best to plan around that. Of course, be sure to know that average temperatures are by no means written in stone. It could be way warmer or way cooler than expected. A rule of thumb: October and April/May races can easily be hot or cold. Otherwise, November-March races tend to be a bit cooler for the northern states (most of the time).
What does your race budget look like?
I know not everyone uses budgeting tools, but I sure do. If you have a goal race, take that money out of your budget first. Then, look for races that fit within your training schedule to help support your goals. Like I mentioned before, littering your marathon schedule with a bunch of 5k’s isn’t the best idea. However, if you are aiming for a 10k or 15k, a few 5k’s may be just what you need to work on your legs speed.
How do you decide on races for your race calendar? Share your tips in the comments for everyone to benefit from