It is time to start thinking about racing! You know, 5k’s and 10k’s and marathons, oh my! I am setting my own running goals for the year so I wanted to share a cute printable to help you see at a glance your race schedule for 2017.
I also have 10 simple steps to planning your yearly race schedule.
But first, download your printable race planning calendar:
How to Plan Your Race Schedule in 10 Easy Steps
1 Set your overall running goal for the year.
What do you want to accomplish this year with your running or walking?
- get in 5k shape?
- run your first marathon?
- do a race each month?
- beat your half marathon PR?
Your goal is unique to you and will shape how many races you put on your calendar and when you schedule them.
For me, with the pesky knee and back issues I’ve been struggling with, my goal for 2017 is simply to get back into 5k shape and run a 5k every month, starting in April.
2 How can your race schedule support this goal?
Depending on your goals, you may want just one “priority” race with a few other races complementing it. If your goal is to run your first marathon, that marathon would be your priority race, but you may want to add a few 5k, 10k or even half marathons as you train.
Just be sure the other races SUPPORT your goal and fit into your training schedule. If you raced a half marathon at all-out effort the week before your first marathon, you are probably making a big mistake.
If you are not setting a competitive goal, your schedule can include races you’ve always wanted to try, a destination race, or a fun themed race, like a Thanksgiving Day 5k with the family.
3 Find local (or destination) races.
This is the fun part… you get to fill out your Race Planning Calendar! If you already have races on the books, go ahead and add them to the printable.
If you need to find races to run, here are a few options:
- Visit Active.com. You can search for races in your area, sort by distance, month, etc.
- Google “5k races Kansas City 2017,” obviously filling in the distance and location you are looking for.
- Ask your running friends what they recommend.
- Check in Facebook running groups.
- Look on one your local running club’s website. For instance, in the Kansas City area mararunning.com is the most comprehensive list of races that I have found.
4 Check out the race website.
I like to get the scoop before I commit to the race.
Here are some of the questions I want answers to:
- Are walkers welcome?
- Do you get a finisher’s medal?
- Where exactly is the location and where do I park?
- Is it family friendly?
- Are strollers a no-no?
- Are there activities for kids?
- Does it have a competitive vibe?
- If I am trying to PR, what is the age group break down?
- Are there awards for 1st, 2nd & 3rd?
- Is the prize a medal or something else? (Once I got a shoe ornament and gift card for winning my age group, lol.)
- Is there a theme? (Themed races, like Christmas or Mother’s Day are so much fun!)
- Does it look like people dress up in goofy costumes? (If you’ve raced before, you know this is a thing.) I like to dress in costumes when it is appropriate. However, I don’t want to show up with my pink tutu and tiara if it’s a super competitive race.
5 Invite some friends!
Running is always more fun with a friend! Who can you recruit to go with you? If it is a low-key family friendly race, maybe you can walk with your kids or your mom.
When you’ve decided exactly which races you want to do, go ahead and register. Most races have early bird pricing so unless you are worried about injury or something else coming up, pull the trigger and pay the fee.
7 Add the race(s) to your calendar.
My goal is one race per month starting in April (gotta get in 5k shape first!) so I’ll jot down either the races I know I want to do, or some possibilities on the printable race planning calendar. As it gets closer, I will check the REGISTER box for the race I’ve chosen, and cross the others off.
Also, make sure you put the race on your “real” calendar as well!
Info to include on your calendar:
- Race name
- Location (link to directions if you are using an online calendar)
- Date of race and time
- Packet pick up dates and times
- Any other events surrounding the race, like a “race eve” pasta dinner
8 Start training.
Unless you are already in racing shape, it’s time to start training! Be sure the plan you choose is geared towards your goals. For example, if you just want to complete your first 5k, you might choose a Couch to 5k. Plan. If you want to competitively race a half marathon, you’ll need a schedule that focuses on speed and endurance.
If you are a newbie, here are some training plan resources:
- Work with a local running club or group/coach. They can help you choose a training plan.
- Sometimes the race website will have a training plan.
- Google training plans for your distance. There are tons online.
- Hal Higdon’s website has plans for all distances.
- Like to run/walk? Check out Jeff Galloway’s site.
- Here is a Couch to 5k plan. (There are also smart phone apps.)
Yay, it’s race day!!! Have a blast!
If you are doing your first race, don’t be nervous!!! (I was terrified before my first 5k in 2009. I had never run 3.1 miles all at once and wasn’t sure I could finish. Good news is I did, and was hooked on racing!)
Bonus: My two best tips for newbies….
- Arrive at your race location at least 30 minutes early. I am chronically late (much to my husband’s chagrin), but I am always on time for a race. I plan to be ON SITE 30 minutes before the start, so I even factor in the time it takes to park and walk from the parking lot to the start line. This gives you time to figure out where you are going and use the porta potty before the race. And definitely use it. 🙂
- If you plan to walk or you are not fast (and be honest!), don’t line up near the front. Sometimes you will see corrals with pace signs so if you know you run a 10:00 mile you can line up by the 10:00 sign. But many races don’t. Please don’t make the mistake of lining up near the front. The front of the line is for runners who are seriously racing and, trust me, you don’t want to be in their way. I see this mistake all the time, but it’s really because people don’t know any better. So be warned: walkers and slow runners in the back.
There you have it, how to plan your racing season in 10 easy steps! Don’t forget to snag your free 2017 Race Planning Calendar… just click the link below.
Are you racing this year? How many races will you put on your schedule? Please share in the comments!