Let’s face it: there are times when all the stars align and training goes well and you have a fabulous race.
And then there are the times it wasn’t a good idea to even start training — and if you stopped to think about it, you knew it. How did your race go then? Thought so.
Although to be honest, some of my most stressful training cycles have produced good races. It’s smart to choose your races wisely, though. You want to have a smile on your face when you’re finished!
Is it your busy time at work?
If you’re an accountant, it might not be the wisest decision to train for an April marathon. Of course, running off the stress of tax season might be just the ticket for you.
Know yourself; know if you thrive on the pressure of training hard while life is crazy or you have a habit of skipping runs because life is crazy and then you have a less than stellar racing experience.
Are you facing a major life change?
A job change. A move. A new edition to your family. A marriage. All of these events are majorly stressful and usually throw us some curveballs, too. When life is crazy, running often becomes something we have to do, rather than something we get to do — and it leaves us burned out in the end.
Heat loving or loathing?
A Fall marathon can sound pretty enticing. Colorful leaves, crisp Fall air . . . but you’re going to be logging a lot of summer miles, too. Are you more likely to skip a hot and humid run, or shorten your long runs if the heat gets to you?
A longer spring race sounds pretty good, too, but you’ll be training through the winter. Depending on where you live, that could mean running through extreme cold and snow, or having to endure a lot of treadmill runs.
What about the course?
Are you a flatlander who won’t run on the treadmill? A hilly race may not be your best choice.
Do you live at sea level? A race at elevation is absolutely doable (I’m about to tackle my second) but you need to consider if your goals align with a race that may or may not be slower than you want due to that elevation.
Big or small?
If you’re a runner who struggles with social anxiety at large races, Vegas or NYC or Boston probably aren’t the right choice for you.
If you need a crowd to draw energy from a small local race may leave you feeling deflated.
There is no perfect time to train
Just as there is no perfect race. Life will always throw us curveballs and the weather can be unpredictable and wacky at any time of year. You always have to be prepared for the unexpected.
No training cycle is ever perfect, and most of the time you may need to skip a run or shorten a run on occasion.
You can stack the odds in your favor, though, by putting some thought into the races you choose and racing wisely.
Talk to me:
Do you put a lot of thought into the races you choose to run?
Have you picked a race at a time that you knew wasn’t a good time for you to train?
Ever regretted picking a race because of training through a season you don’t enjoy?