It's the beginning of the season, and for us triathletes, that means setting goals and picking races to match. Everyone chooses their races using a different factors, some more common that others. For example, many look for races in locations that double as holiday destinations, and even more seek the courses that promise the fastest times.
Here's a simplified race-selection protocol broken down into two steps: two initial factors to consider when choosing your races, and a list of additional factors many people forget to consider, or leave to the last minute.
Step 1: Goals and getaways
First, take a look at your goals. Are you are interested in setting a personal record? If so, the course will be your first consideration. If you want to qualify for the IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship and you dominate on hills, trade the races in Florida and Arizona and opt for a hilly course such as IRONMAN Lake Placid or IRONMAN 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake. Ask yourself whether you race better in extreme heat or cool, and choose accordingly. (Tip: If you are gearing up for a first-time race, choose one with a similar climate to your home to better simulate race-day conditions.)
If your goal is to create a fun family vacation, your main consideration will be location. IRONMAN 70.3 Hawaii could be the perfect romantic getaway, for example. Ask yourself if there's a race near family or friends you'd like to visit—perhaps in St. George or Boise. Next, consider the time of year. Planning an early race might seem like a fantastic idea, until you start training and realize the majority of your preparation will take place during the coldest, darkest time of year. (Unless you love indoor training, which will turn the tables entirely.)
Teresa Nelson, coach and owner of TN Multisports, says that choosing races is the first part of success. "When choosing an event it's important to look at all elements that are important to you to aid in your racing success," she says. "That includes climate, terrain, having family present and the time of year that works best for you to have balance in your training and life."
Step 2: The nitty gritty
Choosing your race(s) is just the first step. Once you've got the dates circled on your calendar, there are a host of other things to address—things you may not have included in your scheming and dreaming. A little advanced preparation and thought can help you make this coming year your best yet.