With 2016 fast approaching, it’s time to start determining our running goals, and what better way to do that than get a race on the calendar? But how do we choose the perfect races to train for? Well, there are a few important steps to consider when planning an ideal race schedule.
- Be sure not to overload your calendar with small races. There are different types of races, typically referred to as A and B races. You want to select one or two A races for the year. These are the events you’re aiming to run a personal record in. This means your B races are then the runs that lead up to your A races. They should be structured so that you have one at the beginning of the season so you can assess your fitness level, one in the middle to keep your competitive edge sharp, and one about two weeks before your big race, to be used as a tune-up. Running too many races in one season can lead to burnout so the key is to keep your schedule simple and to stay fresh!
- Know what kind of runner you are and choose your A race(s) wisely. If you are looking for a race to break your personal record, understand what type of runner you are. Whether you love running hills, sprinting flats, arctic temperatures or gorgeous tropical beach weather, there is a race for you! Choose a race that maximizes your strengths. However, don’t be afraid to challenge your weaknesses either. Additionally, there are the iconic races like the Boston Marathon and our very own NYC Marathon, which can be a factor. Choose the race that will inspire you to actually put the time in to train. If there is a race that is close to friends and family, this may force you to really invest some time into your race prep. It also never hurts to have someone in your cheering section!
- Stay away from back to back marathons. Recovery is just as important as training and with two back-to-back long races, your body hasn’t quite had enough time to recover. Before a big marathon, it’s okay to plan a 5 or 10k race to get some speed in your legs, but give your body ample time to heal and prepare for the main event.
- Be flexible with your race schedule. You may have to redefine your goals if you aren’t in the shape you’ve predicted. Also, don’t get discouraged if you don’t have the race of your life. I like to stay positive and consider bad races as a way of getting the jitters out and shaking off the cobwebs.
- Place your well-being above all else. Staying healthy is the most important goal we all should have! Injuries tend to pile up and before you know it you could be on the bench cheering from the sidelines. Even if injury forces you to drop out of a race, it’s better to be smart and allow your body to heal. The race will always be there next year!
In the end, it is important to remember why we race. To have goals is always a great thing — but never lose your passion, for it is the passion of the sport that will always keep you going. Have fun, stay healthy, and race strong!