More goes into planning a destination race, but you can get ahead of any problems.
Sarah asks: My friend and I have been running together for several months, and we have decided to train for our first half-marathon. We don’t know if we should target a local one or travel for the event. Are we setting ourselves up for a bad experience if we travel for this first big race?
If travelling for a race is within your means, why not? Races can be a great way for a runner to travel and see the sights. And, adding the dimension of travel to training and racing turns it into an adventure. You first have to set yourself up with focused training, but you also need to consider the elements that come with a bit of travel.
It is important to realise that targeting any race increases your commitment to training. You have more invested, especially when choosing an out-of-town race. Your training will have a specific timeline and structure to it as you prepare for a specific event, so be sure you and your running partner are ready for this new level of commitment.
Because you are new to running and racing, target some shorter local races during your training to gain some race experience along the way, regardless of whether you decide to travel for your half or not. Consider these your “rehearsal races”. Participating in shorter races, like 5Ks or 10Ks, will help prepare you for your half marathon in many ways.
Shorter races introduce you to the racing environment, you learn to run with crowds, they boost your training, and you gain some confidence as you become more comfortable at conquering various distances.
Shorter races can also help you establish your pre-race routine. Learn what you want to eat the day before a race, what to eat for your pre-race dinner, and what you want for your pre-race breakfast all before your half-marathon race day.
When considering signing up for any race, it’s important to look at all the race details carefully to be sure it fits with what you are looking for. Consider the course, start time, number of participants and even the location to make sure it’s a race you want to do.
An out-of-town race has even more considerations, so in addition to looking at the race itself, you must also consider all the travel logistics and added expenses that may be involved well in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute to book things like flights, rental cars, hotels, and restaurants. While there is a lot more homework to do when travelling for a race, it’s also a great new adventure and a wonderful reward for your months of training.