Thursday, February 16, 2017

Race Fever: How I Plan My Race Calendar

Race Fever. It's a real thing. The irrepressible urge to sign up for ALL the races and events. I'm pretty sure there's no right or wrong number of races or events to do, that's all down to your own preference, but as someone who frequently has their head turned by shiny looking events, and someone who has missed out on preferable events because something is already booked in, I've found planning my races really beneficial. It also helps me to stagger the cost of any expensive races and prevents me from over booking myself.

I know a lot of runners who swear by spread sheets- a page for events with their sign up dates, event dates etc, but personally, I'm a pen and paper kind of a girl..


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Actually, to be more specific... I'm a multiple notebook, sticker, coloured pens and pencil kind of a girl, and a all green everything kind of a girl. My bad.

For real though, I like the act of writing things down, it helps me to remember things and I find it easier to view than using a screen, especially in my own time as I spend most of my work day glued to a computer and a phone.

I use a Moleskine extra large 2 month planner. It shows each week to a page with a notes page opposite and it has a year calendar at the front, showing each month to a page. And it's predominantly this way that I plan my races.

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First port of call- enter any holidays, important dates, work commitments etc into the year. It stops me from booking races when I know I'm likely to be on call with the business or when I'm planning holidays.

Next in go races already booked- I had one or two events I'd already sorted for 2017 before it started- if you like big events, you may well find yourself entering ballots or signing up for events more than 6 months ahead. This year, I knew I had the Cambridge Half Marathon in March and Endure 24 in June.

Now comes the FUN bit. Races and events I already know I really want to do in the year. 10k is my happy place and I already know in 2017 I want to revisit the Vitality 10000 where I set my PB in 2016 because it was an awesome course and the high of finishing with a PB added to a great atmosphere and well organised race. It's become tradition for Tom & I to ride to Southend on the BHF London-Southend ride because it also usually falls on the Rapha Women's 100 weekend which I love, and I can usually tell whcih weekend it'll be based on the last 3-4 years. As well as these 2 biggies, a few highlights to include, in case you fancy any for yourself:

Wings World Race For Life: a role reversal for most runners, you are chased by the catcher car, so it's down to you how far you get. I had friends who ran it last May from Cambridge and I'm looking forward to giving it a shot myself. The race raises money for spinal chord injury and happens at the same time in cities all over the world.

Royal Parks Half.: You might already know I did secure a ballot place for this. I knew it was going to be luck of the drawer, but I alo knew when it would fall and the Women's Running Magazine 10k series would have been my alternative race as it falls the same day, local to me in north London, Finsbury Park.

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Oh yeah!

March AC Summer Run: having join a new running club in 2017, I thought I'd better mark the race the club hosts into the the diary fairly swiftly this July. For anyone reading in Cambridgeshire, we'll be hosting on July 2nd.

London Marathon: I'm not running it, but decided I wanted to volunteer this this year. I'm supporting the Cancer Research administration team on the day as it's a cause important to me, and I get to soak up some of the atmosphere

Ride London: I represented Team Skoda in Ride100 in 2016 and had a blast. You can check out my photo diary from the 100 mile closed road route if you missed it. I didn't get a ballot place, but as last year proved- anything can happen! It's also hellish trying to get around London on the day, so it's a useful date to be aware of.

And last off, I've been pencilling in races I've been too late for or unable to fit in this year as well. I know this might sound a bit odd, but it'll help me keep track for next year- I'd love to do the Disney Paris Half in September 2018, which I can't fit in this year, and I quite fancy running my 'local' half marathon- The North London Half, which is just a bit too close to the Cambridge Half for me this year.

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So far, 2017 is shaping up to be a fun year event wise. I'm excited for the events I've decided to do and have been lucky with my Royal Parks place. I'm eyeing up more cycling adventures for the summer months which is typically when I run a bit less- I'm not a good hot weather runner!

As for frequency, this seems to be a hotly debated issue. There are stories of heroes running marathons weekly, I have friends who race once or twice a year, just keep them in their trainers and people who book lots of events and struggle to complete them all due to injury or conflicting commitments. In 2015 I raced a lot- if you're new around here and you want to know why (and what got me running) you need to read this post. In July 2015, I spent 3 weekends of 4 attending races, and for me, it was too much. I'm not an early riser and cherish a weekend lay in, so extra early starts didn't help, travel time to-from venues meant I lost at least half a day at a time, and I was shattered. As an inexperienced runner, I didn't have enough time to recover before throwing myself into the next event. In 2016 I went the other way. I imposed a one race per quarter limit, and I was bored, missed out on things and ditched the idea mid-year.

This year, I'm aiming for roughly one event per month, cherry picking my wishlist races first and foremost, and then taking it as it comes. It's not exact- I have 3 events between May 7th & June 11th, but not consecutive weekends, and I'm nipping off on holiday straight after Endure24 on June 11th. My point- it's very much a personal thing. Family life, work, cost and time are all factors so what works for me, might not work for you.
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