Why Pick That Race?

It’s January — that magical time of planning, resolutions, and goal setting.
Here I want to talk about planning. Planning and goal setting go hand-in-hand, of course, but when you’re planning out your racing calendar for 2023, there are some important things to keep in mind:

  • The purpose of the race
  • The prep for the race
  • The big picture surrounding the race

The purpose of the race is the reason why you’re including it in the training cycle.
Is it to run fast? Is it to get a mid-training cycle gauge of where your fitness is at? Is it just for fun to break up the monotony?
There are no wrong answers, but it’s important to know the purpose so you can pick a race that lines up with what you’re looking to achieve.
If your goal is to run fast, you probably shouldn’t pick a super hilly course. If you’re training for a hilly marathon and want to check your fitness, then it probably doesn’t make sense to run a flat or downhill course. If it’s just to have fun, then you better pick a race that actually sounds fun!
The prep goes along with the purpose — making sure that you have enough time to actually achieve the purpose.
If the purpose is to run fast and your fitness has taken a hit over the holidays, then you probably need some time to build back up before the race. If the purpose is to gauge current fitness, then pretty much any time is ok.
Regardless, if you don’t allow an appropriate amount of prep then you ruin any chance of achieving the purpose.
The big picture is how the race is going to fit in with the rest of your life.
An early fall marathon might mean lots of long, challenging training in really hot, humid summer weather. Aiming for a race like Houston in Jan will mean stressful training during the height of the holiday craziness. Would a tax preparer really be at their best in an April marathon?
Also think about the situations where you normally run well.
Do you want a big race with lots of people to run with, or do you do better running your own race in a smaller, more relaxed atmosphere? Do you want something with a lot of pageantry to distract you and crowds of people cheering to help push you along? Does traveling to a new place wear you out or invigorate you?
Thinking about those areas — the purpose, the prep, and the big picture — as you plan your year will help make sure that your racing is productive both in the short and long term.


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About Coach Carl
Coach Carl is a USA Track & Field Level 2 endurance coach who works with runners of all ability levels to reach their goals. He has been featured in Runner’s World, Women’s Health, Men’s Fitness, and Competitor. For information on his coaching services, click here.