If you’ve recently finished a race, you’ve no doubt at least considered doing another one.
Signing up for your next or an important goal race is a great way to stay motivated and focused at the end of one training cycle and before the beginning of another.
Whether you’re running your second race or your 60th, there are important things you need to consider when you plan your next race:
This is the most important factor to consider. Are you still new to running and want to try a shorter race, like a 5K? Or have you been running for awhile and feel ready to step up to a longer distance?
You don’t necessarily need to do it, but it’s probably not a bad idea to progressively increase the length of the races you plan to do. Most runners start with 5K. Move up to 10K when you feel comfortable. Maybe try a 15K or 10-mile (16.1K) before tackling a half-marathon. Finally, when you feel ready and have the experience, consider the marathon.
Be sure to tailor your training to the race distance you plan to do. Longer events generally require more training and mileage.
Timing matters. How long do you have to prepare for the race? What’s the weather like at that time of year?
Figure out how much time you have to train. Ensure you have adequate time to prepare for the race and safely build your mileage or follow a training plan. Consider other life events and responsibilities as well such as work, family and holidays. Be sure you aren’t over-committing yourself.
Consider weather conditions. Races in the spring and fall usually have the most predictable and comfortable running weather and offer an abundance of events.
Are you hoping to stay close to home or do you prefer an exotic locale? A hometown race will make race day more simple to manage but selecting a destination event may add extra incentive and be a fun escape. Consider travel time and expenses when choosing a race out of town. If you’re sticking close to home, have friends and family out and support.
Are you looking for a large event with thousands of participants or something smaller with fewer finishers? A big-city race can be daunting while small-town events offer charm. Also consider the race course itself. Is it flat and fast for setting a new personal best? A scenic, historical event will offer a unique and memorable race experience.
It’s important to ask yourself what you want or expect of a running event. Certain events cater to certain types of runners and offer very different experiences. Ask questions and find out as much info as you can.