How to pick an A Race?

It was easy to pick an A Race when I was training for a marathon or my first half marathon. I don’t know how to do it anymore. I pick some races because I like the course or I want to run in a certain location, but how do I determine which one I am really aiming for? How do I decide when is the time to go for my top goals?

I know I can’t PR every race. I know I have to work on speed and endurance to get to where I want to be.

I don’t know how I went from running my first half marathon in 2009 to now. A half marathon was such a big deal. I think I have let it become not enough of a big deal. Running 13.1 miles is still an accomplishment. I still need to train for it.

I raced too much this fall. I have been fighting my body. I want to race smarter next year. I already decided there will be no marathon in 2012 so that won’t be my A race. I still want to break 1:55 in the half marathon. And I am so damn close it just makes me mad.

How do you choose an A Race?

Is it location?

Is it the course?

Is it time of year?

I am willing to listen to any and all ideas here.

Help me.

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3 thoughts on “How to pick an A Race?

  1. I have no idea. I think any of those reasons are great reasons to make a race your A race.
    I’m wondering the same thing. Looking at next spring I’m wondering what I’m getting myself into…

  2. Location – I think if I’ve never been there before and am essentially a tourist, it’s not in my best interest to pick that as my A race, because I want to look around and see things and remember. Also, I probably will have walked around the entire city the day before, so it’s hard to run well then!

    Course – DEFINITELY! I like (mostly) flat courses with some rolling hills. Bonus points if it’s on a bike path or another pretty trail.

    Time of Year – Another definitely. I will not run a PR when it’s hot and nasty outside. Period. End of discussion. Late fall is good for me personally, but I had a heck of a great May and beginning of June, when it was sunny but still cool in the mornings.

    I think another thing to consider is how big the race is. You don’t want to be dodging around people the whole time if you’re trying to run your best time. My half marathon PR is from a really small race, where the morning was nice and cool, and the course was a few rolling hills on a bike path.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Location: That’s a factor for all my races, not just A’s. I’m not going to even bother going somewhere I don’t want to go.

    Course: For long races (half marathons and marathons), I tend to stick to conventional course surfaces and stay away from the trail runs. Would rather not risk turning an ankle or something like that. Hills don’t matter too much either way, I find them a good challenge. The course itself doesn’t matter too much, although bonus
    points if it’s scenic.

    Time of year: Probably the biggest factor. I tend to stay away from half marathons and marathons in the summer, too much risk for heat, but even fall is no guarantee for cooler weather. I stick with 5k and 10k races in the summer. I like the fall for longer races – cooler weather and usually in the best shape of the year by then, so that’s a pretty good time for an A race. I run some halves in the spring too, but I’m not quite as caught up with my time during that time of year, it’s more of a barometer of where I am and how much better I need to get for the fall. Being in the upper midwest and dealing with the winters cuts into that training time for spring races, so that’s a factor.

    Mo had a good point on how crowded the race is. Just last Saturday I was hoping for my top 5k time of the year. The crowded course was a big reason I fell short. I was not able to get a good finishing kick because I was just trying to avoid bumping into people. That kick is where I tend to pick up a lot of time. Ran my best 5k times this year in some really small town races.

    Hope this helps.

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