Fall Race Season Is Around The Corner | This Is What You Should Consider Before Signing Up To Race

Updated: Sep 25

Photo by: Around The Crown 10K "One of the most exciting road races of the Carolina’s. An opportunity to run on I-277, it's a can't miss event for runners of all levels." ~ Seth (ATC finisher '20)

Racing is the reward for your training. Whether you've been running for a few months or a couple of years, regardless, a race should excite you. This race is the cap and gown to all of your hard work, and there's no better way to celebrate than to toe the starting line.

1. How Do I Know When I'm Physically Ready To Run A Race?

As a rule of thumb, we recommend that you've conditioned to the point where you can comfortably complete at least half of the distance in training that you plan to run on race day. For example, if you plan to run a 10k race or 6.2 miles, be sure that you've comfortably completed a run of at least 3 miles in training. If your goal is a half marathon, try to complete a few training runs between 7 - 8 miles in length.

Second to completing half the distance in training, it's essential to assess how well your body has recovered from completing this distance during training. If you find yourself with significant soreness or new aches or niggles, from running half the length of the planned event, we advise you to push your race date back and allow more time for your body to acclimate to the increased mileage.

Do not be afraid to postpone your race or event if there's doubt in your mind about your physical abilities—the rewards from running come from months of slowly increasing mileage and base-level fitness. Racing before you are ready can lead to increased injury risk. It may prove beneficial to consult with a certified running coach if this is your first season of racing.

2. What Should My Goal/ Goals Be For This Race Or Race Season?

If this is your first race or an event where you're attempting a new distance, your top priority should be to finish. While setting a specific time goal can be tempting, this may negatively impact overall performance by placing too much pressure on yourself. However, if you insist on setting a time goal, give yourself some flexibility by having an A, B, and C goal.

"Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running."experience-dependent

There are many variables in racing, such as weather, course conditions, nutrition and fueling in the days leading up the race, and even your sleep patterns that may impact performance. By formulating multiple goals for this race, you create space for success regardless of the outcome.

When looking towards an entire race season, be mindful of your race distance, how much time it will take to build up to completing that race distance safely, and what recovery time will be necessary following the event.

*The details below are structured to consider entry-level runners' fitness.


3. How Do I Decide On A Race Location?

When choosing your race destination, the primary factors to consider include race terrain and climate. Runners who complete most of their training on the flat Florida coast might not fair well in a race taking place with elevation changes. However, it is possible to acclimate during the build-up for these variables, something to address before registration.

Climate and weather conditions are considerations because changes of just 5 - 10 degrees from typical training conditions can significantly affect sweat rate and nutritional needs during a race.

When selecting a race destination, it's ideal, when possible, to choose a race with which you have some emotional connection. Perhaps it's a race close to home, and the course shares portions of your training loop. Or maybe you consider a destination that excites you, such as a race by the beach. Regardless, it can be beneficial to pick a race that carries some sort of meaning beyond the fact that it's just a race. Often runners draw energy from external influences like crowd engagement or beautiful scenery to stay engaged during difficult stages of the race.

4. Mirror The Race Formate During Training

Once you select a race, spend some time researching the course. Familiarize yourself with the general layout, including elevation changes and the frequency of aid stations. Try to mirror the race formate in your training leading up to the event as best you can. If the race demands include significant climbing and you live in a relatively flat location, it might be worth taking a short trip to a neighborhood with hills to practice and assess how you respond to the increased demand. If it's logistically not feasible to commute to a location for training, opt to use a treadmill to simulate the race's elevation demands.

If this is a summer race, be mindful of the potentially warm temperatures. You might consider running mid-afternoon vs. your typical pre-dawn, morning run.

Although some runners may prefer to enter race's blind when signing up, having some general knowledge of race details can help limit unknowns and potential risks the day of the race.

5. Have fun!

Lastly, you should be excited about your race. Regardless if you're a first-time racer or reaching for new milestones, this will be a huge accomplishment. Celebrate with family and friends after crossing the finish line. Before you know it, we bet you'll be itching for the next.

"The person who starts the race is not the same person who finishes the race."