How do you choose your races? Is your preference to stay local or adventure abroad? Is mountainous terrain a deal-breaker or the preferred venue when it comes to running on trails? Maybe your preference is a mix of everything. Below are a few things to think about when selecting races this year.
Most of us are looking to maximize our budgets and need to limit our travel expenses. If that’s the case, make sure to research your local and regional race options to find a selection of distances and diverse terrain. UltraRunning’s race calendar on ultrarunning.com can filter ultras by distance, date, state and more.
Elevation gain can deter those training in flat regions and vice versa. We all want a challenge, but it’s a personal preference. We’re already challenging ourselves by running long distances, so adding extreme elevation to the mix might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Look at the elevation gain of a race before signing up. If it’s a trail race, research typical weather on race day – it might only include 3,000 feet of gain, but mud could make it feel more like 6,000 feet.
Weather can be a little more predictable during racing season between April and October, however, races are going on in most corners of the country all year long. If you prefer running in heat, you might want to wait until summer for your “A” race, but if you prefer cooler temperatures, squeeze your training in before summer is in full swing and run a late spring ultra.
In this issue, we have advice on spring training for upcoming races including ways to transform your training on page 10 by Jason Koop. Ellie Greenwood offers advice on how to build your own training plan on page 12. New columnist Jazmine Lowther writes about the decision of whether to hire a coach on page 16, and gear editor Donald Buraglio reviews a full training kit, from head to toe, on page 26. Finally, new columnist Andrew Miller writes about an ultrarunning veteran who has been in the sport and taking care of ultrarunners for over 50 years on page 69.
Choosing a race, whether it’s your first or your 50th, should be a well-researched process, as it’s not just a financial investment but an investment of your time and training. This year, I’ve selected races because of the ultrarunning community, both locally and beyond. There are plenty of amazing communities of ultrarunners across the country and I’m planning on running with a few. While I tend to rely on my gut instinct more often than not, do what feels right for you this year–something new and exciting or old and familiar—it’s hard to go wrong with ultramarathons.