It’s that time of year for an ultra trail runner — when the lotteries are being drawn + we’re all getting to know exactly where the lottery gods have put our name. Maybe you got in, maybe you didn’t. Either way, there are still more races to work into your calendar.
Races are exciting + motivating. When there is a race looming on our calendar we have a reason to move, an excuse to put our discipline to use. Come race day we’ll be stoked to take to the trails with friends + strangers, chasing our food cravings from one aid station to the next. When you look at races with just your heart they all look amazing. This makes it hard not to just sign up for everything. You have to get in before they sell out, right?!
Let’s chat about a few things you should take into consideration before you get all willy nilly with your race calendar. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but running every race that looks remotely appealing is not a good plan. It might work for a year, or even two if you’re lucky, but then what?! Rather than struggle with the burn out, let’s prevent it!
When you’re signing up for races this coming season keep some of these considerations in mind. We’re not here to tell you how to race, but we would love to help support you stay strong, healthy + happy while you’re out on the trails.
Give Yourself Time to Recover
There is no set ‘recovery time’ for any race, especially on the trails when the terrain may wear on you more than the distance. This makes the concept of giving yourself time to fully recover a bit tricky. Especially if you’re really into schedules + training plans! There will be times when your training plan is ready for your to kick up the intensity before your body is. This is why we need to be sure we schedule in *enough* recovery time after each race. We need to have the time to let our bodies do the talking.
Since we’re not the ones picking the dates for races it is extremely easy to just make the set dates of these races work for us. Even if they don’t. Remember, the race will still be there next year…or at least the trails will be! Don’t pack your race schedule so full that you don’t have time to recovery from your last race.
Remember Life Commitments
Before you even start scribbling down your race plan for the year check in with your family + friends. You’ll need to make note of important events in your personal life. This goes for big work projects or deadlines as well. Even if your office hours aren’t extended, the extra mental + emotional stress at work will take a toll on your training. Throw those dates on a calendar, then work your races around them.
When you’re attempting to fit everything in, remember just how much time + effort racing [+ training!] requires. If you’re brother is getting married the same week of a really exciting race, you may need to pick a different race to get stoked on. If you have a big backpacking trip planned the week after your longest race ever, you may need to pick a different week to go backpacking. If a goal race has your peak training weeks during two weeks of work travel, you may need to push that goal race back a year.
None of that stuff is fun to plan around as none of it is quite as exciting as dominating life at a race. However, all of those things are important to maintaining your life beyond the trails + we cannot forget to do that.
Don’t Forget Travel Time + Costs
The planning of races is very focused on the calendar…but what about everything else that goes into getting to/from + around these races? Do you have enough PTO available to take on your race schedule? Will you be able to afford the gas, flights + hotels for your hoped for races?
It is strongly recommended that you do a little math before you start signing up for races. Jot down all the entry fees, take a gander at the expected travel costs + add up how many days you’ll need to take off for work. Do those numbers work for you? Did you remember to double your grocery bill + monthly fuel budget? You know, for all that food you’ll be inhaling + all the miles you’ll cover in a car going to/from trailheads?
Again, not the most exciting things to talk about when it comes to planning out your upcoming races. These numbers are important for the same reason you’ll need to take family events into consideration — they’ll make training + racing easier in the long run!
Yea, we know…we did a lot of not-so-fun chatting about your race calendar. But we’re doing it for the right reasons; to be proactive about creating a great year on the trails. If you plan out your training + racing with enough consideration you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
Better yet, we have an awesome solution to get you to amazing races even if you can’t run them. VOLUNTEER! Yes, please! Remember all those incredible people feeding you at aid stations? They were volunteers. Remember how easy it was to follow the trail markers? They were put up by volunteers. Remember that person you hugged after crossing the finish line? Yup, probably a volunteer. If you can fit races onto your calendar but not into your training plan…seriously considering volunteering! Read more about volunteering here!