Now is the time of year that many people start looking at the season’s calendar to get an outline of which races they want to do. This is a personal choice, based on many factors. Where do you start?
Begin by deciding what type of racing you want to do for the next year. Perhaps you will choose to do frequent, short distance races (sprints and Olympics) with the focus on speed and fun. Or maybe it's mid-distance (like Olympic or X-50) to find a balance between speed and endurance. Then of course there are the 70.3 and 140.6 options to choose from. Knowing how much time you will be able to dedicate to training will factor into what you choose to do. Keep in mind that when you choose long distance racing you most likely will do fewer races during the season. When you choose short distance races, you can race much more often. Knowing your time and budget constraints is also a key factor in choosing your seasonal race plan.
My approach is to do some research on what events are available locally as well as destination races that I may be interested in. I compile a spreadsheet which lists all of the possible races that I might want to compete in. I will then select my “A” “B” and “C” races.
“A” races are my most important events, where I want to have my best performance. For an “A” race my training periodization will be geared to prepare me peak for that race day. I will taper (reduce training), rest and be focused on preparing for that day. “
B” races are races that I want to do well at but are not my primary goal races. For a “B” race I will taper slightly.
“C” races are races I am doing for fun with my family or friends. “C” race days can also be used as a workout, or even as a test. I may do a sprint race to see how hard I can push the bike, for example. When doing a “C” race the overall goal won’t be on winning or a PR, but on what you or your coach have designated it to be.
There are many things to think about when selecting races:
Support is extra important in longer races
Who is the race director? Have you completed races put on by this race director before and do they do a put together a quality event?
Spectators - Is it easy for family and friends to see you compete? For longer races cheering crowds can be an important motivator
Repeating Races - Is this a race you have completed before? Repeat races allow you to compare performances year to year.
Is it a hilly course for the bike or run?
Is the swim smooth or rough?
Is it likely to be Hot? Cold? Windy? Rainy?
Are your friends/teammates planning on competing in the race?
Is there an age group competitor that you know is doing the race that you would like to compete against (or not)?
No matter which races you select, just make sure you have fun while achieving your goals.