There are so many races out there. How do you pick the ideal race for you? Today I'm talking about picking the ideal race for you.

Stephanieruns Fitness

March 17, 2019 Newsletter

Picking the Ideal Race

There are so many races out there. There's really no shortage of races to pick from. However with the busy lives we lead and the rising costs of races it's important to pick the right race for you. You want to make sure that the race or races you run are a good fit for your goals. I'm finding besides fun races my athletes are wanting to pick races where they can have a personal best. So how do you determine the right race for you? This week I asked on twitter what makes a race ideal for you. You told me, location, price, the course, race organization and swag. Let's look at some factors to consider when picking a race.

Factors to consider when picking a race:

  1. Location: Where the race is located will influence the logistics for your race day morning. Is the race close to you or far away? If you're running a destination race you'll probably want a hotel very close to the start line to help with your race day morning. If you're driving to the race you need to consider parking. Parking is especially important if the race starts and ends at a different location. There's really something to be said about running local races. It'll help ease your pre race jitters which can in turn help you have a personal best.
  2. Price: I can't believe how much the cost of races has increased over the past ten years. Running has become more popular and we are seeing a lot of theme races which are more expensive. Races today can be anywhere from free (think parkrun) to hundreds of dollars. Now there's nothing wrong with spending hundreds of dollars on a race but if you have a set racing budget for the year it can quickly erode that budget. So you have to decide do you want to run more cheaper races or one big premium race. There's no right or wrong answer, it's a personal decision.
  3. Safety/Course Organization: i'm putting these two together because I think they go hand in hand. A well organized race is very likely to be a safe race. Safety is very important to me. I did run a half marathon when I was about six months post partum. The course did not have water at the water stations, which is pretty important. I also ran a race pregnant once where there was no water at the end of the race. To know if a race is safe or well organized you want to ask other runners who have run the race and read reviews. The race director's response to complaints about the race will tell you a lot about the race organization. Well organized and safe races might cost a bit more but in my opinion it's always worth it.
  4. The Season: The season you'll be racing in is important to consider. Humid weather can derail your chance a personal best if you're not prepared. The season is also important because it dictates when you'll be training for the race. If you're running a fall race you'll need to train in the summer. A spring race means training in the winter. Considering the season will help you better plan your training to set you up for success.
  5. Swag: Now for some runners swag means nothing and for others it means everything. What I've found is the better the swag the higher the race cost. I've run two races where there were Tiffany necklaces at the finish line. You better believe those races were more expensive than other races of the same distance. If the swag is important to you that's okay. I know some runners will sign up for a race based on the swag alone.
  6. Race Course: When I asked on twitter no one mentioned the race course but in my opinion it's pretty important, especially for longer distances. Does the course have crowd support to keep you going? Does the course have good scenery? A marathon that I ran had charity cheering stations set up along the course. There were prizes for the best cheering station. This kept me going as the miles piled on. I ran a half marathon in San Francisco. The course started downtown and went to the water and along the coast. It was a beautiful course that kept me going. I was also able to go into the ocean after finishing. How's that for an ice bath! You want to pick a course that will keep you going, not bore you!
  7. Crowds: Some races have a hundred racers others have ten thousand or more. When you're signing up for a race you should consider the size of the race. The number of racers will determine how crowded the course is. This will influence your overall race experience. If you're running a really crowded race it could also impact your ability to have a personal best.

There are other factor that can influence if you should sign up for a race or not but I think this is a good starting point. Do you consider the above when you sign up for a race? Let me know! Send me a tweet @srunsfitness

Dealing With Crowded Races

A lot of us runners are drawn to these big races that have a lot of runners running. Races with ten thousand or more runners. Usually these races are well known and could even be a series of races that have races across the country. These races usually have correls and different starting waves of runners. However if you ask a runner that has run one of these races you'll hear that people don't always put themselves in the right correl, along with the volume of runners can create a crowded running experience.

So what can you do about a crowded race? When you're lining up in your correl, assuming you are putting yourself in the right correl you can line up at the front of the correl so when you start there won't be people in front of you. This should mean that you have to do less weaving around runners. Another strategy is to put yourself at the end of the next fastest correl. However this could backfire and cause you to start your race too fast. Which makes it something I don't recommend.

Weaving in and out of runners can take up valuable energy that you need to race. Which means another consideration for these crowded races is to run them for fun and not necessarily a personal best. It can be incredibly frustrating to train for a race and pay a lot of money only to spend the time weaving around other runners.

What do you do about crowded race courses? Send me your tips and I'll compile them for a future newsletter. This is a topic I want to discuss further!

Have You Heard of Parkrun?

Have you heard of parkrun? It started in the UK in 2004 but is now taking North America by storm. It's a free timed 5k race every Saturday morning held at a local park. It's as simple as signing up, printing your barcode and showing up. I haven't had the pleasure of running a parkrun race yet but have heard nothing but good things about them. Parkrun promises to always be free and for everyone. You can walk, run or volunteer.

Why do I think parkrun is important to the running community? It creates a supportive, accessible running community right in your own backyard. You'll be able to connect with local runners and from what I hear a lot of the parkruns also have social events after the runs. In a world where everything is so expensive it's nice to peel back running to your local park, good friends and free timed run.

I don't think parkrun can replace all of your races, and it might be hard to fit into your training schedule. However if you're looking for a fun, social summer of running what could be better? No frills races are becoming more popular. It lets you get out and run for the love of running without the expense of a big race. Not everyone wants everything that a large race offers. I'm happy that as runners today we have a lots of options for races.

Have you ran parkrun? What did you think about it? I'll be showing up to run at my local parkrun when it starts this summer. I can't wait!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Be sure to check out my Training Peak's store. I'll be adding new training plans shortly. Right now my Learn to Run Program is on sale for $35. If you've wanted to start running this is the plan for you!

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Stephanieruns Fitness

461 North Service Rd West
Oakville Ontario,  L6M 2V5 - Canada

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Disclaimer: Always seek medical advice before starting an exercise program. This newsletter is not medical advice. Medical advice should be sought from a medical professional. Stephanieruns Fitness assumes no liability for any injuries or damages as a result of the above content.