As runners we have lots of options when choosing a race to put on our schedule. If you are doing 5K there are 5K races most weekends within a short drive of anywhere. If you are wanting to do something longer like a 10K or Half/Full Marathon you don’t have quite the same number of options, but still plenty to choose from.
Half marathons are the fastest growing race distance in the US. In 2014, for the first time ever over 2 million people finished a half marathon. Another race type that is growing quickly is themed races. Things like color runs, mud runs, spartan races, there are all sorts of of these races that mix running with some other element to make it interesting or different. Not to mention trail races, which I believe will continue to grow and become one of the more popular race types.
When you decide that you want to do a race its important to consider your likes and dislikes as much as it is your physical condition. If you love running, but hate hills a trail race may not be the best option for you. If you love nature and get stressed out in crowded situations a trail race may be perfect. Think about the positives and negatives of a race before you decided to put it on your schedule.
I loved the half marathons I did last year. I did two within two weeks of each so I was training for both at the same time. I felt great about my training and was 100% dedicated to the process. When it came time for the races I felt good and exceeded my goals. This year I decided to bump it up a notch and do a full marathon. This distance is requiring a lot more training that is not working as good with my schedule. I am getting stressed about my goals for the race and having to cut other stuff out of my schedule to make room for more running.
What I have figured out is that full marathons aren’t my thing. I am quite sure when the race is over I will be exhilarated and ecstatic that I did it, but I doubt I will schedule another one next year. That’s OK though. I can’t wait to schedule more half marathons and 10K’s and even a trail race. For me it’s kind of funny, I am figuring out that I am a passionate runner. I want to run, and I want to be around other runners for training and inspiration. But, I am not passionate about running 26.2 miles or 3.1 miles. 5K’s don’t have the distance I need to get into a run properly and 26.2 has way to many miles.
Find your nitch and run it. If having colored powder thrown at you while your running makes you happy then go do it. If climbing 10 foot walls in the middle of your race sounds like a good idea then sign up for a Spartan Race. Whatever seems to be your thing I can almost guarantee there is a race to make you happy. The important thing is that any of these races keeps us up and moving and that is always better than sitting on the couch getting old and lazy.