Many of us start running to race. Some start running for fitness and health, and then decide to run a race. Regardless, careful planning must take place in order to determine if racing and what race is best for you and your goals.
How do you choose the best race?
Before you hop on the bandwagon of “I want to run a marathon this year, but I can’t run a mile, yet!”
1. Your current level of fitness. You don’t need to be an athlete. However, if you are extremely overweight and are unable to run/walk a mile without being out of breath and want to run 26.2 miles within the next 6 months, I would recommend you start with a Half Marathon.
2. Look in your local area for the races. See what appeals to you. It might be the date, the theme or even the medal. Find the race that attracts you. That is your focus for the at least the next 6 months.
3. If you are determined to travel for your first race – you have a multitude of options. When traveling, you need to consider hotel, food, spending monies – in addition to the race registration fees. Calculate that before you register for the race. Races do not offer registration refunds. Make sure you can afford to travel, before you register.
4. Develop a good training plan. You can find a host of training plans online or hire a coach. Again, keep your eye on the prize – your focus race (at least 6 months out from your training start date.)
5. After training for 3 months, if you want to participate in the race experience, sign up for a 5k or 10k. This isn’t required, but it might help you mentally prepare for the big day
6. Be realistic on your first race, especially if it is a Half or Full Marathon. Your one and only goal should be to finish upright and healthy. Time goals shouldn’t matter. You only get on First Half or Full. Relish in it and do the best you can do that day.
Charlene Ragsdale is a RRCA Certified Running Coach, IFA Certified Sports Nutritionist and member of the USATF Master’s All-American Team. She can often be seen at on the podium as a frequent Age Division & Overall Winner in several distances. She lives with her Chef husband, two sons and two dogs in Las Vegas, NV. You can follow her at her blog: www.RunningWithCharlene.com