Choose your races

This may seem like an odd question to write a blog about, but it is an incredibly common topic that comes up between an athlete and a coach for more reasons than you may first expect.


In the end, and yes that is the right place to start, I think you have to go with the 'hell yes' races. If you start with a 'sort of like to do that' attitude it can be very difficult to summon the motivation to do the training for an event if the goal is demanding.

For those athletes without a coach, with lower expectations and more of a healthy lifestyle and fun attitude it still applies, why would you do events that you aren't enthused about doing? More often than not it comes down to too much outside influence doing what you 'think' you should be doing rather than actually what you want to do. Perhaps this blog can help you to unplug from the busy lives of being influenced by social media, advertising etc and find out which events really turn on your athletic self. 

So what are the reasons to choose a specific race? Well there are actually many reasons and some of them can affect your planning for A, B and C races for even the most committed athletes.

  1. Social

  2. Timing of the event

  3. Target Time

  4. Course Type

  5. Qualification Race Status

  6. Tactical choice out of many qualifying races

  7. Total cost of race

  8. Geographic location of race

  9. Distance of Race

  10. Values

1. Social

Why is the social aspects of a race worthy of consideration? Well, many athletes are extrinsically motivated by their friends, family and peers so why not work with this motivation and use it! It is also great fun to go on a team trip and makes life more enjoyable around the whole race weekend and possibly even the training in the run up to the event as well. Social events can help spread and ease pressure over a season for some athletes as well, it is 'just another' race after all. 

2. Timing of the event

This is critical for many athletes and doesn't always follow the traditional triathlon season. Busy periods at work, childbirth, weddings and many other commitments or life events affect what it is possible or even wise to race. 

3. Target Time

Target time it may well be that you are highly motivated by achieving a certain time or you simply feel the need, the need for speed. Either way picking courses with favourable conditions will be wise. What is favourable for you specifically may however vary greatly. The type of swim for example may vary from athlete to athlete some preferring single loop or double, freshwater or sea water even anti-clockwise of clockwise. Short transitions are not to be left out of this equation either. The same goes for the bike and run although a large amount of elevation gain will pretty much always be slower a moderate amount of gain can be quicker it does depends on the layout of ascent and descent. Steep twisty descents for example never give you as good a return on physical investment compared to shallower straight ones with a long gradual run off. 

The geography of the race may come into this as well due to climatic conditions and travel, including jet lag having varying effects on athletes. Also previous course or reconnaissance based knowledge may be a large factor.

4. Course Type

Time may come into this aspect as well but course type is more about what you prefer or what your strengths and weaknesses match. As a stronger cyclist, you may pick a more challenging bike course. A smaller lighter rider going for long steep climbs versus a strong powerful rider going for constant shallow rolling hills with which to soften up the less able cyclists and press home their advantage in this discipline. Crucially however you have to think of this as a 'Triathlete' which kind .of course allows you to execute what for you is the best overall performance.

5. Qualification Race Status

Simply put which races are eligible qualifiers for the event you are looking to qualify for and race at. Which of these events is timed the best for you? Are you expecting to qualify or attempting to qualify?

6. Tactical Qualification

There is a few tactics to qualification, not least of which is a little bit of luck. After all the biggest thing you can't control is who else turns up! However, the timing of an event may need to the likelihood of a weaker field or perhaps you are confident in qualification and you may choose to qualify early in order to allow for a longer focussed block on training for a Championship event or indeed other goals. 

7. Total cost of the race

What is your budget for the race and events across the season? It is true that some races may require more investment than others? An around the world trip with one race may mean cheaper races elsewhere. You will need to consider;

  • Entry costs

  • Travel costs (including possible equipment transport costs/baggage)

  • Hire Car

  • Accommodation costs

  • Food Cost

  • Facility access costs

  • Any currency difference costs

  • Cost of time away from work and family potentially

  • Different or additional equipment required for a specific event

8. Geographic Location of the event

For a few different reasons, the location of the race may affect your choice. Is it a place that you would like to visit, how much does it cost to get there, what is the climate like and what is the topography like?

9. Distance of race

Is it the distance you like to and want to race? Is the event a preparation for a key event later in the season or do you simply want to enjoy some more racing and a change in distance allows for more frequent racing?

10. Values

What do you value in a race?

  • Adventure

  • Challenge

  • Race experience

  • Race environment

  • Travel

This is a really important question to finish on and I feel the one that really brings together the other nine points. It helps you to distinguish exactly what a 'hell yes' event looks like for you. Which type of event sees you satisfied at the end goal? Are you able to focus on goals two years down the line or do you need to focus on more short term goals with more frequent training events? This time next year if you were to sit down and assess the events you have done which events would leave you with a grin from ear to ear?

There is nothing better than really wanting to do something and going out and achieving that goal.

This truly is the first step in #believestriveachieve


Alan WardAlan WardComment