Monday, December 20, 2010

Set a Goal: Find a Race!!

Has a month really passed since my last entry? I suppose the holidays claimed my priorities once again- argh balance!! Did someone say "balance"? Hmmm, I'll put that on my list of things to achieve...
What a great lead-in to my topic! I keep trying to motivate clients and friends to broaden their goals to include fitness achievements rather than focus on that stupid scale. My short-lived brainstorming led me straight to participating in a race. It didn't take an all-nighter for me to find that registering for a race or group fitness activity inspires a fresh outlook on your current fitness regime. Heck- that's what I do when I'm feeling mopey (yep, the act of moping. urban dictionary says so).
Here's some brief tips for finding a race perfect for YOU.

Type of Race
Road race vs. Trail Run: One question- where are you training now? On a road or a trail? Train for where you plan to run, meaning, if you're not trail running now then do not register for a trail run. If you would like to begin trail running, purchase trail running shoes and test them out on a safe, popular running trail. There are a lot of considerations necessary for trail running: narrowed paths, tree roots, rocks, puddles, etc. I'm all about challenging yourself but chose a race you plan on training for. Twisted ankles= not fun.
Running Race vs Biathalon vs Triathalon, etc: Do you like mixing up your workouts with a fun bike adventure? Were you raised in a lake and love to swim? If running is not your obsession then consider signing up for a multi-faceted race: a bi- or triathlon. Training involves conditioning in all areas (besides just running) and can keep things interesting. If running flat out bores you half to death, training for a triathalon could keep you in the saddle. Considerations: $$ for bike, suit, shoes, etc, time to feel comfortable competing in several areas.
Single Entry vs Relay vs Team style: Did you know that most half marathons and full marathons offer a team or relay aspect? I figured this out after running the Windermere Half Marathon last spring. Who are these people standing on the side of the road in running gear and why didn't I know this option? If you prefer the team/group aspect of training, this works for you. Get a group at work or some family members with a fitness goal together. A team or relay team also fuels accountability- bonus!
Themed Races: Highly recommended- especially if you're just starting out. St. Paddy's Day Dash, Jingle Bell Run, Rock 'n Roll, all aid in keeping you distracted in your quest for the finish line. You may also want to look into races benefiting a local non-profit or charity. Check out your local Susan B Komen Race for the Cure 5k.  Makes you feel good!
Race for the Cure Spokane 2010
Race Distance
It's time to get real with yourself. How far do you run now? How many days can you train? How long do you have to train for this race?
For example, when I train for a 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles) I usually try working up to 3 training runs of 10 miles each. This is 75% of the total distance of the race- 10 is 75% of 13.1. No matter if you train for a 5k or 50k, apply the 75% rule to your training.
Back to "How far are you running now?". If you run 5 miles a day, 3x a week skip the 5k and register for a 10k or even a 1/2 marathon. The key remains in challenging yourself and setting goals to achieve higher levels of fitness!

Local vs. Out-of-state: The main task to consider here is cost. Setting a goal to finish the Las Vegas Rock n Roll Marathon sounds great when you register but what about flights, hotel stays, etc? However, is doing your local fun run just not interesting enough for you? Sometimes setting a dramatic goal tickles your feet to the street.
Hilly vs Flat Terrain: This topic relates closely to the topic on distance. What can you train for? If you've done your fair share of flat races, challenge yourself with hills. Yes, your time may reflect this obstacle but your legs will thank you for it. Do you live near hills or frequent a favorite running trail yet avoid hills there? Attempt a flat course before a hilly one- this way you focus on one thing at a time (distance then terrain).
Time of Day, Time of Year, Season, etc.: A piece of advice: Don't register for a December marathon in North Dakota if you live in LA unless your lungs are made of steel. Try training runs in the environment that most mimics that of the race you train for. Make sense? Race at 7am? Get your booty out of bed and get your body and diet acclimated. Otherwise, you could face intestinal issues due to your lack of familiarity with running at varying times of day. Same goes for winter vs summer races. A 9am race in Phoenix in July looks very different from a 9am race in New York in February. Check average temps here.

Helpful links in finding a race near YOU: