Today I am linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for their weekly “Tuesday on the Run” series. This week’s topic is “How Do You Choose Your Races.” For the last few weeks, I have been trying to choose a fall marathon, so I figured this would be a good link up to join. Writing out the thought process of choosing a race just might help lead me where I want to go.
Spoiler alert: It did! Keep reading …
I like to race a lot! I think the process of choosing a race definitely varies by race type, so I am going to break this down into a few different sections, culminating with the marathon selection process, which is by far the most difficult (in my opinion).
5Ks & 10Ks – There isn’t a very complex thought process that goes into choosing a 5K or 10K race (for me at least). It’s usually just based on location. I’ll pretty much do any 5K or 10K within a 50 mile radius. I typically do anywhere from 5 to 10 5Ks per year and 1 or 2 10Ks per year and most of those are just going to be small, local races.
Half Marathon – The half marathon is my favorite distance to race! If I am choosing a half marathon as a goal race, I am going to consider 1) time of year, 2) location and 3) course.
- Time of year: I’m probably not going to be doing a half marathon in the months of May – September (at least not a local one). October – April are fair game though.
- Location: I am definitely willing to travel a little bit further for a half than I am for shorter races. All of the half marathons that I have done have still been within driving distance, but I’d say that my radius is closer to 200 miles for a half.
- Course: The flatter the better!
Marathon – Here is where it gets tricky! There is so much that goes into choosing and training for a marathon. I have been trying to decide on my next marathon here for a while and it’s not a decision I wanted to make lightly. I basically run one marathon a year. I ran my first one in 2011 and I’ve done 6. Over the course of the next 3 or 4 years, I would like to try to do at least 2 or 3 per year, but we’ll see how that works out.
When choosing a marathon as a goal race (side note: I’ve never done a marathon just “for fun” so I don’t know exactly why I am qualifying that it needs to be a goal race, but nonetheless …), I am going to consider 1) time of year, 2) course, 3) race size and 4) scheduling.
- Time of year: My marathon window is shorter than my half window. November – January is pretty much when it needs to be. Weather and my work schedule dictate this. I realize that I will have to be open to other months in order to get more marathons in going forward, but I think that will likely just involve a little bit more traveling to get out of the South. I’m cool with that though.
- Course: The flatter the better still applies here, but it isn’t quite as much of a concern. It’s harder to find pancake flat marathons and a few (small) hills don’t really bother me too much.
- Race Size: I prefer smaller marathons. I’m not a fan of crowds in general, so races like Boston & New York kind of freak me out. I’m glad that I have done them, but I can’t say that I would *choose* those. I mean, when you qualify for Boston & New York you run them, but I am good with a one and done on those.
- Scheduling: One of the reasons that it is tricky to pick out a marathon is because I want it to fit as seamlessly as possible into my “race” schedule. The marathon basically takes you out of other races for at least two weeks leading up to it and then probably at least two weeks (if not more) afterwards.
Ultimately, I landed on the fact that this was probably the most important factor for me. I made a list of about 10 marathons that fit into my November – January window and also made a list of the fall races that definitely want to do and then I compared the dates.
Here is the work in progress …
Before I did this, I was really leaning towards Rock ‘N’ Roll Savannah. I realized that if I did that race, I wouldn’t be able to do the fall 10K that I want to do or either of the “turkey” races that I usually do (10 miler the weekend before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Day 5K).
So after mapping out the dates and compiling a list of other races that I want to do, I was able to at least narrow it down to one weekend that stands out as the best. The first weekend in December is when it’s going to be. That’s a huge start! A training plan can be built now that the date is set.
Right now the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon is the top candidate. It is advertised as “a flat and fast, double-loop course that starts and ends at the Baton Rouge Beach and passes through the LSU campus, around the LSU lakes, and alongside waterfront estates.” I have never done a double loop course for a marathon before, but Daniel and I talked about it and we decided that maybe it won’t seem as long that way?! I think that’s probably being overly optimistic, but we’re just going to go with it.
P.S. I think Daniel is going to run this one with me! We will likely have similar goals for the race, so that will either be A) really great, fantastic and wonderful or B) a disaster. Time will tell! Lol!
What are the most important factors that you weigh when choosing a race?