Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Race(s) For You

Now that the fall running season has come to a close, many runners are now focusing on their 2017 race calendars.  With an infinite number of race options out there, its easy to become overwhelmed when choosing which race(s) to register for.  There are a number of factors that runners need to consider when choosing the right race for them.

choosing-the-right-race

Are you trying to go for a PR?  For me, I usually focus on going after a PR at smaller, local races (the one excpetion being a half marathon PR because there aren’t many small half marathons in the DC area).  Local races are usually less crowded and you won’t have entertainment as a temptation for distraction.  Instead, you can focus on your running during the race.

Running towards the finish line at the Ringing in Hope 10k in May 2016 Photo Credit: PR Races

Running towards the finish line at the Ringing in Hope 10k in May 2016
Photo Credit: PR Races

Are you looking for a flat course, or do hills not bother you?  I’ve run plenty of races that fall under both categories, and while its certainly easier to PR on a flat course, many runners are more accustomed to running hills because of the terrain of the area in which they live.

Running up Calvert Hill during the Rock 'n' Roll DC Half Marathon in March 2016

Running up Calvert Hill during the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon in March 2016

Are you looking to make running a race part of a vacation?  Racecations have become quite popular, and I’ve traveled both near and far for many races.  Its always fun to explore a new area, especially when celebrating post race.

It was fun to travel to Virginia Beach for the Shamrock Half Marathon in March 2015

It was fun to travel to Virginia Beach for the Shamrock Half Marathon in March 2015

Are you looking to be entertained during the race?  Or are you looking for a race that is a major experience in and of itself?  While my husband and I are both Disney fans, and enjoy the fanfare that is runDisney, they are pricey races.  Its at these races that I usually focus on the experience of the race itself and not on my pace or pushing myself to a PR.

My husband and I crossing the finish line of Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November 2016 Photo Credit: Disney World PhotoPass

My husband and I crossing the finish line of the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November 2016
Photo Credit: Disney World PhotoPass

Are you looking for a unique race experience?  Some of my favorite race experiences have been the couple of times that I’ve run on an airport runway.  There are also color runs, zombie runs, obstacle course runs, and runs through vineyards.  There are so many different race experiences out there!

Running on the runway at Dulles Airport during the Dulles Day 10k in September 2014 Photo Credit: PR Races

Running on the runway at Dulles Airport during the Dulles Day 10k in September 2014
Photo Credit: PR Races

One thing is for certain – you should only register and run a race that YOU want to run, not just because everybody else seems to be.  Its easy to get caught up in the excitement of race registrations and have FOMO (fear of missing out), but its important that you make your race choices based on what you’re looking to get out of them.

QOTD: What factors do you consider when choosing the right race(s)?

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30 Responses to Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Race(s) For You

  1. My choices also include “who’s going to look after my kids if my husband is working”. I do a lot of the same races over and over again.

  2. Carla says:

    For me it’s all about the friends. Friends to do it with. Friends around to cheer me on 🙂 I need the cheer 🙂 I’m woman enough to adkit that.

  3. Some races have been destination races for me–those are always fun but I don’t usually do as well at them. I know that now. And I do love a flat race course!

  4. Racecations are certainly a blast but I find I don’t run as well at them. I think I need my own bed and foods the morning of a race.

  5. Lesley says:

    If I’m choosing local races, I look at how easy packet pick up is, where the race is held, and what parking is like. Things might get easier moving to a smaller city, but DFW is huge, and packet pickup may not always be easy to get to after work. Sometimes there’s race morning pickup, sometimes not.

  6. I feel the same way about bike races and picking out the “just right” ones for me. Glad you had fun this season!

  7. Pricing, size, and fun factor are all things I take into consideration. I tend to not run smaller races because I like running side by side amongst fellow racers. It makes me happy. Haha I do want to PR next year so maybe I should look at the courses more carefully. Thanks for your thoughts!

  8. All great points 😉 I have learned that I’m not a racer…not matter how hard I try to convince myself otherwise. I can’t stand the pressure to always be seeking a fast finish. Granted, some days the stars, moon,and planets, etc. all align just perfectly and things go well…but those seem to be more the exceptions than the norm. And, I’m alright with that, I’d rather focus on enjoying the experience than be checking my watch every few minutes.

  9. Ha, I can say I never choose my races based on FOMO cus I’m too lazy for that…lol. If i’m gonna put the energy into training it for sure better be one I want to do!

    Disney races are for sure ones where you want to get your monies worth, so why not stay out on the course longer, right??..hehe

  10. SuzLyfe says:

    Love this! Everyone runs and races for a different reason–not every race has to be a RACE–sometimes, you just want to have a good time!

  11. So many great tips! YEs, the small races are often the best PR races because the pressure seems less!

  12. These are all really good!! I choose all kinds of races as I like variety. I’m not turned off by big races so I do those too. I wanted a marathon PR and I chose NYC–crowded and a bit hilly, lol!! But I have a good time anywhere 🙂

  13. I’m not looking to PR anymore, but I do like a race that I can have fun and possibly place in my age group (which means a pretty small race 🙂 ). And price is a factor. I’ve raced for too many years and I’m still shocked at the price of races these days.

  14. tonee78 says:

    Great post! I do love local races because they are usually less crowded but I am finding that they are starting to get more crowded and highly competitive…..

  15. That airport photo is awesome! I would also love to do a Disney race one day. For me, I look at scenery, specatators, and course. I don’t mind hills but don’t want anything too crazy 🙂

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