How to Pick ‘A’ Races

I’m going through the process of picking some ‘A’ races for 2016. Those would be my goal races. The ones that I would like to build my training around. I will have other races, which I call my ‘B’ and ‘C’ races. ‘B’ races are those that help build up to my ‘A’ races. And ‘C’ races I do just for fun.

So some of my considerations when picking races:

A Races: These are the bucket list races, or the goal races, or the ones that I want to do a PR in, or ones that I really feel I would be stretched to do. There should only be a maximum of 2-3 of these races in any given year. Any more, and I would start to lose focus on what I am really training for. These are the races I am the most excited about and probably talk about the most. I need to be sure of my schedule before I pick these races so that nothing comes in the way of them once I’ve set my eyes on them. Sometimes this is impossible and I need to pick a backup A race.

One of two A Races in 2015 - Ironlegs Ultra

B Races: These are included in my training schedule for the ‘A’ races. So if I had a marathon on my ‘A’ list, a ‘B’ race might be a half marathon one month before the ‘A’ race. Or it might be another marathon in the months following my goal marathon if that second marathon time didn’t matter so much.

The problem with B races is that it is very easy to slip into making them A races by going out too hard. They are not meant to take anything away from the big races, only either to let you know how well your training is going, or to fine tune some speed, or nutrition or something else you are working on. You are usually in great shape by the time you do your B races so the temptation is huge to go all out. Don’t! Save it for the big ones. Don’t risk injury.

C Races: These lower priority races cannot jeapordize either my A or B races. These would be short and fun, and probably with friends or family. They might be just a cool race that I can fit in on short notice. I wouldn’t be too disheartened if my time was horrible but if I got injured it would be devastating.

Definitely a C race - the Color Run

In 2015, my two A races were the Vancouver Marathon in May and Ironlegs Ultra in August. In the marathon I wanted to get a PR so I trained really hard for it (but I missed it). For the ultra, I wanted to finish, mostly just to finish but also to get a good time.

I had a lot of C races including a half marathon, 8k cross country series in early spring. These helped me stay fit but didn’t push me very hard. Looking back I guess this year I didn’t really have any B races. I had one planned in April that didn’t pan out and another in July. I was training very specifically on the weekends and pushing myself quite hard on those training runs. B races didn’t quite fit in that schedule. And my kids’ A races trumped any of my proposed B races, but such is life. Perhaps I might have been able to squeeze some in if I had been prepared to travel a little further to the races. I have fit them in on other years and I plan to do so again next year.

I am still planning my 2016. My one A race I was counting on (Pikes Peak) probably won’t pan out due to our family schedule so I need to switch gears. Another possible A race (Blackfoot 100k) conflicts with a C race I am coordinating a charity team for, so that won’t work. So I am researching a couple others to see if I can make it work.

The goal is to have this figured out early in the New Year. Planning is half? the fun. Maybe not half, since racing and training is pretty fun too.

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