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:
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!
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.
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:
Now, that doesn’t mean that you should run a race during your birthday weekend, but it’s best to keep that in mind!
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:
If you’re looking for recommendations for races, you can always go to Google and search for reviews. Personally, I’m very partial to BibRave.com – 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.
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.
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!
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?
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?