Life, Running

How To Choose YOUR Perfect Race!

Hi Friends:)

I recently signed up for my first post-injury race (hooray!)

I’ll be running a 5k on September 17th, and I’m pretty psyched about it:)

I’ve run a whole lot of races; many 5ks, almost a dozen halfs, and a full marathon. I’ve run in five states, and I’ve used every mode of transportation to get to and from a race. I was even hoping to run the Toronto Waterfront Marathon this October so I could cross an international race off my bucket list, but I have to defer until 2018:(

Choosing a race, and choosing the right race, can be hard. I know I chose totally wrong at first; I actually skipped the first race I ever planned to do because I just wasn’t ready in so many ways. Firstly, I had only been running for a total of four months. Like, I didn’t even own real running shoes yet, I was still just wearing a 4 year old pair of Sauconey’s my mom got me off a clearance rack when I was in college. Also, I had no idea what training actually was, and I decided to run a half like, 6 weeks before.

Nowadays, my choice of races is a little more informed and procedural. I know what I’m looking for in a race, I know how to factor in my training in to my choice of races, and I know how to create a game-plan around race-day travel that enables me to be my best self.

My best tips for choosing your perfect race are as follows…

  1. Research training Plans & Create Your Training Calendar: Preparing for a race requires commitment and consistency, which is why most runners choose to follow a structured training plan. Shorter races, like a 5k or a 10k, might follow an 8-10 week plan, and for a half marathon or full marathon, you’re probably looking at 12-18 weeks of training. Plug your runs into your iCal or datebook so you can visually spot where conflicts might occur (for example, you’re not going to be able to do a long run the morning after your best friend’s bachelorette party) and where you might need to switch around some runs. Always factor in an extra week or two in any training plan, as well, just in case you face an injury or unexpected event.
  2. Choose Your Distance
    Now that you know how long it will take you to train, and what distance you would like to train for, look at your calendar and choose a few weekends to block off for racing! Start googling around to find races that match what you’re looking for. On Active.com, Raceroster.com, halfmarathon.net and runningintheUSA.com, you can search events by date.
  3. Research Race Dates
    Now that you know how long it will take you to train, and what distance you would like to train for, look at your calendar and choose a few weekends to block off for racing! Start googling around to find races that match what you’re looking for. On Active.com, Raceroster.com, halfmarathon.net and runningintheUSA.com, you can search events by date.
  4. Consider Locations
    If you’re someone who loves to travel, it can be really fun to run a race in a new destination. It can also be really comforting to head right back home after running your buns off. Think carefully about how you personally fuel and recover. Race day is not the time to try out a new bagel spread in a new city, and it’s definitely no good to be tossing and turning on your friend’s poorly-inflated air mattress either. Pro Tip: Try to avoid very long drives the morning of a race!
  5. Sign Up!
    Head to active.com, runningintheUSA.com, halfmarathon.net, or raceroster.com to find a race that aligns with all these considerations! Take a glance at the course maps and read runner’s reviews from previous years if you’re able to. Pro Tip: Also consider the cost. You’ll feel just as accomplished after a rural $40 half marathon as you would after a $150 big city race.

So there you have it…my thought process for choosing races. In the end it all comes down to knowing yourself, though! If you love hills, find a hilly race, if you hate hills, find a flat race. Don’t sign up for a race that starts at 6am if you’re not a morning person. And don’t go head- and wallet- first into a race that’s too ambitious distance-wise. Know yourself, know your limits, and know when not to follow the crowd:)

PS check out the cool infographic I created down below!

Now You Tell Me…

  • How do you choose your next athletic adventure?
  • Any tips on balancing the costs of racing? I raced a ton last year and it was HARD on my wallet!
  • First race stories, anyone?