Thursday, January 22, 2015

Time to Shop That Fall Marathon

Fall marathon shopping? Yep. Most runners have spring fever on their minds this time of year, planning out their spring 5K, 10Ks, and/or in training for those spring half and full marathons. But it’s also time to start planning ahead for fall.

Fall marathons have become so popular that many now cap the total number of runners and/or use a lottery system of registering runners. It’s no longer a given that you’ll get into NYC, Marine Corps, or Chicago, just to name a few. Even some smaller races have gone to a cap and lottery system in order to keep their races small and manageable. 

Because of the cap and lottery it’s best to have Plan B or maybe even a Plan C option. Many races open registration in the spring, but don't announce whether you've you’ve made the lottery until summer. There’s nothing more frustrating than to have started training for your race only to find out that you didn’t make the lottery and all the other races are closed.

There are other considerations too. Where do you want to run? Do you want to travel or stay local? Flat or hilly? Warmer climate or cold? Is your goal to run hard with the hopes of a PR or are you running to enjoy the view? Use this time to ask yourself these questions so you can shop for the race that best fits what you're looking for.

Also, use this time to prepare your family. They need to be on board with your training and racing
expectations. They need to know that you’ll have to put in lots of hours hitting the road or trail, particularly on the weekends. Are they expecting to go with you to the race? Racing and family trips often don’t mix very well unless you’ve set the ground work for expectations early on.

The Disney races have become extremely popular the past few years. Sounds awesome, but “The most magical place on earth” can quickly become Dante’s Inferno, if everyone isn’t on the same page. Exploring a 40 square-mile theme park the day before a marathon in which you plan to PR isn't the best idea. Is your spouse or significant other ready to tackle the park with kids solo? No kids? Is your spouse or significant other ready to do things solo or be stuck in the room? Seems like simple questions couples and/or families would have discussed, but they're often overlooked.

Below are some things to consider when planning your fall marathon:
  • List the races you’d like to do. Rank them in order of preference.
  • Find out if your race of preference has a cap and/or uses a lottery registration system. If it does, create a Plan B and Plan C in case you don't get your top choice.
  • Have a family meeting to discuss the upcoming training. Recruit their support. If the family is coming to the race, discuss what you will and will not be able to do during the trip.
  • Plan enough time to train (12-14 weeks for a half marathon; 16-18 weeks for a full-marathon)
  • Build your base mileage so you’ll begin your training strong and decrease your chance of injury.  The month before your training begins your totally weekly mileage if training for a half should be 15-20 miles. If training for a full marathon, it should be 20-25 miles.
  • Investigate lodging and travel details early. Hotels tend to book up fast for the larger races.
  • Mark your calendar with the race registration opening date. Popular races can fill up within minutes of registration opening. So mark your calendar not only with the date but the time of day that registration will begin so you can plan to be sitting at your computer at the ready. 

1 comment:

Half Crazed Runner said...

I'm looking to Chicago! I can't think of any other races (half marathons) until my son finishes his wrestling season!