Setting 2017 Running Goals and Picking Events

It’s the time of year where I’m rubbing my hands together with glee – when I’m not glued to the internet looking up race schedules, elevation charts and considering the prospect of new bling.

Apologies if you’re not a runner, you’re probably going to think I’m crazy if you make it past the next sentence, but I really love picking out the events that I’ll train for at the beginning of each year.
Add the fact that this is my first “real” running year in the US, assuming my visa renewal is approved (fingers glued in the crossed position), and I’m excited. There are so many awesome events to choose from here and they span the year quite well.
I usually start by compiling a list of the events that look interesting. Sites like Running in the USAΒ and Australian Running Calendar are great because they give you a starting point and you can even look interstate if you’re planning a holiday and want to run while you’re there.
The tough part is whittling the list down. There are so many variables to consider:
  • Ongoing injuries
  • Training time
  • Recovery time
  • Will you want to race or just run?
  • Will you enjoy it?

During 2017 I plan to run the Bay to Breakers, San Francisco (half) Marathon and the Rock N Roll Half Marathon San Jose. If you’re still stuck in the decision making process, read on for my thoughts on choosing the “best” races.

Ongoing Injuries

I’m getting sick of talking about it, but I have an ongoing hip injury that I’m learning to run with. It means I’m a little bit worried about being able to ramp up the training kilometres (because even though I’m here, I refuse to train in miles).

There’s no escaping the fact that Second Brother has killer calves.

That’s why the only race that I’ve locked in is the San Francisco half. We have a history and I will be bitterly disappointed if I don’t get to run it this year. I’m keeping an open mind about the other two though. It’s not worth further aggravating my injury just to be able to say that I ran three events in 2017.

It’s also why I’ve chosen events that are as spaced out as they are. Purely to give me some time to rest and recover from anything unexpected that pops up.

Training Time

It’s always good to have a solid base to work off before you begin your 12-week training cycle but, if you’re like me, there also needs to be some recuperation time between cycles. Your muscles need a rest to prepare it for the next round of tortureΒ fun you’re going to put it through.

Don’t forget to factor the rest time in between events. Obviously it doesn’t mean you have to stop running altogether for those couple of weeks, but your muscles will appreciate some shorter, easy-paced jaunts.

Training time plays a big part in deciding which distances to sign up for. If you’re in for a year with a lot of changes or you know that you won’t have a tonne of training time up your sleeve, you probably shouldn’t sign up for an ultra or a full marathon. You’ll need at least three hours to dedicate to some of your long runs and that can time can be tough to eck out in one block.

Recovery Time

What’s your recovery time like? Does your body take a little longer than others to rid itself of muscle-pain after a particularly long run?
If you’re not completely new to others, you know your own body. Don’t compare yourself to other runners – if I’ve learnt anything from running it’s that you’re in your own race, with your own set of circumstances.

To Race Or To Run?

You might be wondering what the difference is. Trust me, there’s a huge difference between the two.

Racing means having a goal finish time in mind, with a plan b and c times in case things go pear-shaped. You push yourself that tiny bit harder during speed sessions because you’ve got that magic PB in your mind that you want to beat.

Entering a race to run it is a much more relaxed affair. Sure, you still train to be able to go the distance and you probably still do speed work and all the rest, but you’re not running to specific splits.

Racing is great because you get that sense of accomplishment at the end when you achieve something that you weren’t quite sure was possible but running, enjoying the event atmosphere and taking in the views can be just as fun.

Is It Fun?

For me, the whole process has to be fun. Sure, I’m not always excited to hop out of bed in the dark to go for a run but I need to be excited about the overall journey for it to work.
If you’re halfway through marathon training and you’re absolutely miserable (it happens), then you should take some time to reassess your goals. Does the end justify the means? If it’s all getting to be a little too much, then there’s no reason why you can’t switch down to a shorter event distance.
The whole point of it is to have fun while keeping fit, not to make yourself utterly miserable. Remember that!

What are you 2017 event plans? How did you decide on what you’d run and when?

28 thoughts on “Setting 2017 Running Goals and Picking Events

  1. This year is going to be a somewhat "off" year from running marathons at least, so I have nothing on the calendar as of yet. Maybe some last minute races will happen though!

    Last year I discovered the awesomeness of running marathons two weeks apart – it worked and was SO much fun! In 2018 I'm definitely hoping to do that again. 2 races for 1 training cycle. It's a great deal.

    Happy racing to you in this new year!

  2. Hee hee! I've just scheduled a similar post. We started the year planning out all the runs that we're going to do. I'm definitely more of a runner than a racer, crossing the finish line in one piece is always my goal! I find running to a time takes so much fun out of my run! We've entered all our Sydney favourites this year but the highlight will be going back to Disneyland for the half marathon weekend. But first we have the Cadbury 10k in Tassie this weekend – bring it!

  3. Oh how fun! I love looking up race calendars as much as you do.
    A race I would highly recommend for you if you're willing to travel is Rock 'n' Roll San Diego. It has the most amazing spectators handing out mimosas, beer, doughnuts, candy, etc. Definitely better for a fun race, not a goal.

  4. I'm sure your body will thank you for the year "off". But there are plenty of halves and 10kms etc that you can sign up for on a whim if you get bored, right? Hehe. I'm an enabler.

    Gosh, I've never run a marathon before, I think maybe my body wants me to stick to halves since I basically fell apart while training for a marathon. I can't imagine running two, two weeks apart! You're a machine Amy.

  5. Scheduling posts is the best, isn't it? I wrote this about two weeks ago when I was in the thick of the planning phase. Now I've got a training plan and I'm getting into the fun part.
    You know, it's funny, I'm a runner until about 2/3's of the way through the run. Then I look at my Garmin, see how well I'm doing, and race to the end. Seems to be the way I do it.
    You're coming back to Disneyland?!? And doing back to back halves! Wow. I can't even. That's awesome.
    Goodluck in Tassie, eat lots of choccies for me and have lots of fun πŸ™‚

  6. I don't really like looking at all the races because there are SO MANY and obviously funds and time are both limited. So I tend to get overwhelmed. But once I commit, I get really pumped up about training. πŸ™‚ And I love how you're not switching to miles. Hahah. I probably wouldn't change to km if I moved overseas either.

  7. Yeah it does make it tough to choose from such a large number of different races – they can get expensive as well. I like to try and plan early to take advantage of early bird rates.
    Heh, I'm totally stubborn about my units of measurement. I look at the temperature and if it's close to 40 I think "OK so it's cold-ish" and if it's around 90 I know it's gonna be hot.

  8. I wish I could see running as fun. Those that are really in to it seem to get so much from it, it's almost like a drug. I can't even run for the bus πŸ™‚ Go for it and good luck.

  9. Those are some exciting races you picked for 2017!! I'd love to run the San Francisco Half, too! I totally hear you about running with injuries – so not easy and yes, as runners we want to run so we need to somehow always adjust our running around our boo-boos. I'm always struggling with foot pain and sometimes hip pain as well…then there is always the question whether to race or to run…
    So good to hear you're back running though!! Have a great week Kat!!

  10. Thanks Ilka! Foot pain is not fun at all, hopefully it settles down for you. Are you staying off it at the moment?
    I just registered for Bay to Breakers and Mr M's mum is so excited for me that I'm starting to get really pumped about it, which is nice. I think I'll just be running it as a bit of a test for the SF Half, and I'll race that one.
    Hope your foot and hip are better quickly!

  11. This is such a fun post- I cannot agree more: ENJOYing it the point, so I always need to remember the overall journey, since the training can be a grind sometimes! I have paired way down this year, but I think short races may get consideration so I stay happy with running, and my body does too!

    1. It’s holding out so far, but it’s got a long way to go. I’m just crossing everything and hoping for the best. Ahh but miles are so long! KMs are over quicker πŸ˜‰

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