There are so many determining factors in how to choose a race. I remember picking my first “big” race- the Princess Half Marathon in 2013. Believe it or not, I actually discovered Run Disney through browsing Pinterest. Even though Princess was my ultimate goal, at the time, I ran multiple local races to prepare myself. With very few miles on my 1st pair of pink running shoes (I used to buy based on color- newbie mistake), I had to register for races with no prior knowledge.
Nowadays, I can pick out the races I want to run without tons of effort. But it’s taken a while, and running a few horrible races, to decide which to pick. I even have a bucket list of races I’d love to run.
To help you out, I’ve got the quick steps to take to determine which race you should run.
How To Pick a Race
1) It’s All About Location
Just like buying a home, location is everything. It’ll determine the financial obligations involved, the predicted weather and time required. A local 5k will obviously be cheaper and less time consuming than a racecation that requires a travel budget.
I also like to research typical weather for the location of a race in relation to the time of year. A NorthEast race sounds awesome to me, but not in the Winter.
2) What Is Your Goal?
Are you pushing for a new PR on a favorite distance or are you looking to run a new distance all together? Decide on a goal that will keep you motivated enough to train. I progressively ran a 5k, 10k and 15k prior to Princess being my 1st “big” goal race. It was important for me to progress and get a feel for each race distance.
The race distance will also determine the time commitment you need to make. For instance, a half marathon training plan can range from 15-22 weeks long.
3) Is it in the Budget?
Racecations are so much fun and a great way to stay motivated, but it costs a lot to run them. I spend anywhere from $20 on local 5k’s to $360 on challenge registrations. That’s before airline, hotel and food expenses. Decide on a total budget and that’ll help narrow your location too. Know what is included as well.
4) Experience Level
I’ll never be a fast enough runner to qualify for Boston, so that’ll never be a goal of mine. Put some time into researching if any prior running experience is required. Do you want a new PR? Something to think about too.
Are you more of a walker? There’s a race for you too! Some races are totally walker-friendly, while others are more strict with a cut-off time. Every race has a “pace requirements” section on their website. Determine if you could finish the race based upon the required pace.
5) Ask Around
For every single race I’ve thought about running, there’s a runner who has run it before me! Facebook groups, Twitter and blog reviews are a great way to find out information from somebody who has already run it. Races start earning reputations over the years. If I hear that a race “ran out of water” or “started an hour late” (believe me- it happens), I won’t register.
Once you’ve taken these research steps, it’ll be easy to pick a race. I promise that there is a race for everybody regardless of pace. Just remember, whether you’re running a color run, obstacle course or the Boston Marathon, you’re a runner and part of an amazing community!