Right about now, at the end of another calendar year, many of you are planning your racing schedule for 2016.
With more races to choose from than ever before, you can be very selective about the races you would like to run, so now is the time to do your homework.
At this time, I must repeat my mantra that, today, many people have the tendency to overrace. By racing too frequently, you 'water down' your performances, thus earning you a place in the chapter of my first book, Running Shorts, www.muldowneyrunning.net, amazon.com/author/joemuldowney, entitled, 'Excuses, Excuses.'
You know who I mean. The runner, who after you beat him or her reminds you that he would have finished ahead of you if not for the fact that he or she had run 15 races in the past three weeks!
First, my recommendation is to not schedule more than two marathons in a calendar year. The marathon does some deep tissue damage, so you can expect to remain less than racing fresh for a month or so after running a marathon.
Vary your race distances. Run 5Ks up to half marathons. Sometimes, local communities offer one and two mile races during the summer.
Few things in running frost me more than rip-off races. Over-the-top entry fees, for races that offer very little, and big cities that boost hotel prices when they know a race is in town. If I find a race where my entry fee is going toward a worthy charity or cause, I'm more likely to run that race than a race that is paying a race director a six-figure salary.
Review the race course before you enter. If you want to climb hills, find a race that suits your needs. However, if your training is going better than ever and you want to run a personal best time, look for a relatively flat course.
Check out weather trends. You may find an exotic island location that also features a marathon, but tropical heat and marathon running is usually not a good combination.
Support your local races. More often than not, those races support worthy local causes. At local races, you meet other runners like you, and often you can forge relationships and gain new training partners. Mega-races are fine, but local races are the backbone of road racing.
Finally, look at the race organization. Is the course well-marked? Is it accurate? Are the amenities what you are looking for in a race?
It;s definitely a 'buyer's market' out there. Thousands upon thousands of races exist, and they are looking for you to come and run.
Be smart. Be selective. But, most of all, do your homework.