Running 101: How to Plan Your Next Year of Running

By Janelle @ Run With No Regrets | running tips

Nov 29

We are rapidly approaching December and that means we’re wrapping up this year and moving on to the next!

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what my race plan is for 2018.  I’ve already announced that I am signing up for a spring marathon (my second), but beyond that, I’m extremely flexible!  Since I’ve been hearing a lot from other runners/bloggers that they haven’t nailed down their race calendar, I thought this would be a great Running 101 topic to help you figure out where to go next!

That’s right, Running 101 is back in session!  I have really enjoyed creating posts catered to beginners and offering tips to help maximize your experience as a new runner while providing some friendly reminders to the more experienced runners!  I really hope you appreciate my tips on how to plan your next year of running – now is the time!

I’ve previously shared the following Running 101 topics:

I’m linking up with MarciaPatty, and Erika for Tuesdays on the RunDebbieLora, and Rachel for the Running Coaches Corner and Annmarie, and Nicole for Wild Workout Wednesday! 

Time for some #runningtips on how to plan your next year of running and racing! #sweatpink Click To Tweet

If you're new to running, you may be wondering how to keep this thing going in the new year! For this month's Running 101 I'm sharing tips on how to successfully plan your next year of running and racing! Find more tips at!

How to Plan Your Next Year of Running

If you know me by now, you know that I’m a planner.  I am most at peace when I have created a plan that I’m ready to execute, and that’s definitely the way I like to operate when it comes to running, training, and racing!  Unfortunately, since there are so many races to consider, the planning process can be very overwhelming!  Since I’m planning a wedding in 2018, I really need to be on top of things and get my plan together.  Here are the steps that I take when thinking about my race plan – I hope you find it helpful!

Think About Your Running Goals

It’s so important to break down your running goals from year-to-year.  In 2016, my big goal was to run my first marathon, so every race I signed up for was in preparation for that moment.  In 2017, my big goal was to PR in the half marathon, so obviously, I ran a lot of half marathons!  If you’re really focused on getting a PR, trying a new distance, or running in as many different states as possible, it’s important to know that from the jump, as it will shape what types of races you consider for the upcoming year.

It was great to PR the half marathon in my hometown of Buffalo, NY!

Block Off Important Dates on Your Calendar

Obviously, there is more to life than running – shocking, right?  I recommend noting the important dates that you already know about so that you can schedule your running and racing accordingly.  For example, I’m getting married(!) in Fall 2018.  I don’t have a date yet, but I know that my weekends from September to November will be very busy and not the time for training for and running big races.

Here’s a quick list of dates to block off:

  • Vacations/Holidays
  • Birthdays
  • Weddings/Graduations
  • Work Trips/Conferences
  • Community Events

Now, that doesn’t mean that you should run a race during your birthday weekend, but it’s best to keep that in mind!

Make a List of Your Top Races for the New Year

Now that you have your goals in mind, get together your wish list of races.  Here’s a way to think categorize them as you develop your plan:

  • Races that you loved – Did you run a race and love it so much that you want to do it again?
  • Races that are a tradition – These are the races you’ll always do no matter what, like an annual Turkey Trot or company 5K run
  • Races in a location you’d like to visit – It could be in a new city or a new country!  I loved getting to run in Seattle and Montreal!
  • Races you missed out on last year – This could have been due to an injury or scheduling conflicts.
  • Races that are for redemption – Maybe you want a do-over of a disappointing race.
  • Races that are expensive – Disney, anyone?  The sooner it’s on your radar, the better!
  • Races on your bucket list – I was so happy to finally run a Ragnar Relay in 2017!
  • Races that fulfill your goal – If you want to BQ, find the races that you know are flat and fast!
You may also like:  The Philly Half Marathon: My Worst Race Ever

If you’re looking for recommendations for races, you can always go to Google and search for reviews.  Personally, I’m very partial to – you can find very detailed race recaps for thousands of races around the country!  You can also reach out to local running groups to find out about the hottest races.

Key In on Your Upcoming Season

Even though you may have a list of potential races for the entire year, you have to focus on what’s immediately coming up on your calendar!  I like to think about racing in two seasons:  Spring and Fall.  How many races do you think you’ll want to run in a season?  Do you prefer spring races (i.e. training through winter) or fall races (i.e. training through summer)?  That will definitely impact your decision on scheduling races!

I like to plan my races in a way that ensures that I can achieve my goals.  This past spring, I was focused on the half marathon so what did I do?  Ran several half marathons and a couple of 10 milers and 10K’s.  Some of the races served as additional training runs, and I was fortunate to reach my PR goal!  There was a method to the madness and it worked, but I was way too burned out to plan a similarly busy fall!  You have to be realistic when you plan how much you want to race and consider how it will shape the rest of your year.

Register as Early as Possible

If you’re new to signing up for races, it’s important to know that the longer you wait to sign up, the more you will pay to race!  That’s why it’s important that once you know for sure what races you’re running, sign up ASAP!  It’s not a real commitment until you’re officially registered.  Trust me, I’m going through this right now as I’m almost on the verge of signing up for that aforementioned spring marathon for 2018!

What is the most annoying type of email in the world?  Notifications when race prices are increasing!  Even though I ran the Rothman 8K this year, I’ve been getting all kinds of emails from the Philadelphia Marathon promoting discounted prices for 2018.  I wish I could say that once you sign up the annoying emails will go away, but that would be a lie!

A note on race insurance – some of the larger races now offer the option to purchase race insurance in the event that you can no longer participate in a race due to injury, pregnancy, etc.  First off, let me say FINALLY!  If you’re worried that you may need to pull out of a race, make the investment to protect yourself!

Don’t Forget to Find Race Discounts

If you’re still gunshy about signing up for a race too early, keep an eye out on race discounts throughout the year!  How do you find them?

  • Follow the races on your radar on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook.
  • Check out Facebook Groups that share race discounts – you’ll find some great deals!
  • Look for Race Ambassadors – they usually have a discount code available.  In the past, I have been an ambassador for Rock ‘n Roll, The Love Run, The Perfect 10 Miler, and ZOOMA and currently I’m a BibRave Pro Ambassador – check out my Race Discount Page for a ton of discounts!

Know You Can’t Do It All

Even with the best-made plans, you still may not be able to run all the races.  It’s okay!  At the end of the day, a race plan is a guideline, not a bible.  Every year I want to run a Turkey Trot but sometimes plans change or life gets in the way.  Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t meet the arbitrary racing goal that you set for yourself.

I hope you found these tips helpful and that you have an exciting year of running and racing ahead!

What’s your approach to race planning for the following year?  What races are you most excited about in 2018? 

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