Monday, August 24, 2009

5 considerations when choosing a race...

So, you've been running for a little while now and need a goal. You know you want to race, but you just aren't sure what you are looking for. Here's some things to consider when you are picking a race...

1. Go for the bling. Pick a race that offers a medal or other unique memento of the event. There's all sorts of things out there from t-shirts to Tiffany necklaces to chocolate. And the medals themselves are a reason to pick a race, such as a Mickey Medal, Flying Pig Medal, Pick a race that offers something fun as an incentive.

2. How about the munchies. Some races are known for their post race feasts. There is the typical fare of yogurt and bananas and cookies, but then other races go all out on food. You can find Spolumbo's sausages or ice cream or chocolate or even turkey dinners or beers and wines. It's up to you to ask around and figure out which ones have the food or drinks you are after.

3. Go the distance. You might choose a race based on distance. Start out with a 5km, then move onto 10km, then a half marathon, then a full marathon and then even an ultra. Or maybe you want more than one sport and are looking for something like a triathlon. How much training do you want to commit to and how far do you want to go. And maybe you are using the race to qualify for Boston, in which case you are doing a marathon and might want to look at the race course itself. What types of challenges are along the race? Any big hills to think about? Do you get to run past cool stuff?

4. Location, location, location. For short races, I generally stick close to home, yet if I'm doing a half or full marathon, I start looking for places I want to go (combined with the bling of course). You can race pretty much anywhere in the world these days so figure out if you are after sun destination, or somewhere more historic, or maybe you want to be in the mountains, or perhaps a big city. Nothing is more fun than planning a race and getting a vacation out of it!!

5. Cause. A lot of races out there support different charities and organizations. Is there a particular cause that is close to your heart? Some races simply donate to charities while others encourage you to raise pledges. It's up to you which race you choose. As well, you can join groups like Team In Training, Joints In Motion, Team Diabetes or many others where you train as a group while raising money for a particular charity, and then on race day you get to wear a special jersey and run the race in honour of someone facing one of these illnesses. It gives special meaning to the race and makes it so much more meaningful when you cross the finish line.

So, there's lots to think about when you pick a race. And maybe you will combine several of these when you make a decision. Races are usually on a weekend and most marathons offer fitness fairs, pasta dinners, speakers and celebrations to go along with their race. Races are my main motivation and I always like having something coming up on the horizon, like right now I have a sprint triathlon, a 10km and a half coming up this fall... what are you training for?

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