You have trained all winter and planning on continuing with some more intensity as the racing season approaches. Now it's time to pick the races where you can showcase all your hard work.
Many races offer significant discounts for signing up early and others such as Ironman and major marathons require registering a year out due to the demand.
Here's how to approach planning out your race calendar and choosing the best events for you.
More: Triathlons to Do in 2014
GoalsBefore planning out the race schedule, goals need to be determined for the upcoming year. Is it to complete your first half marathon, set a personal record (PR) in a 10K or qualify for Kona in an Ironman event?
These goals will be your "A" races and fill in the racing calendar first. I don't recommend picking more than two or three "A" races per year and have them spaced apart for best performance. Secondary "B" races are crucial for a dress rehearsal for the A races, as well as to keep training fun by competing. These races can fill in between the "A" races.
Racing can be very expensive not only with registration fees, but also travel costs. Setting your annual racing budget will help determine if traveling out of the area with airfare/hotels are realistic. This will help decide if you should look at just local races and pick from those or be able to expand the race search.
Lately, it has become even more popular to go longer in distance such as marathons and Ironman. But don't get pressured into making these your type of race; some of the best athletes in the world race shorter distances. Take the Brownlee brothers for example; they compete in Olympic-distance races (1,500-meter swim, 40K bike and 10K run) and are able to run a sub 30-minute 10K after the bike. Now that is impressive with some serious results.
The amount of training time you have available as well as strengths such as endurance and speed will help you determine what distance you excel and have fun at.
What kind of competition and participants will be at the potential race? Some athletes like large races with great expos and can get lost in the crowd. Others enjoy smaller races to either stand out or have a more personal feel.
If you are an athlete looking to compete against others at the start line, don't just cherry pick smaller races, expand out and compete against some of the best to push your limits.
Your strengths can come into play when selecting races. If hills are where you tend to shine, pick a course with elevation gain. If in a triathlon, cycling is your weakness, a flatter course may be best.
Regardless of what race you pick, remember the number one goal is to have fun. Take a minute during the race to thank a volunteer, people that have supported you and for the ability to get out there and compete.
Search for your next triathlon.