Get Strategic About Planning Your Race Calendar

by | Mar 14, 2022 | Technical Articles

4 steps to planning the perfect 2022 race calendar for your best running year yet!

It’s every runner’s favourite time of year! The bad weather is behind us, Spring is around the corner, and it’s time to design your race calendar. Here’s how to do it so you tick off all your running goals without overwhelming other areas of life.

How many races are you doing?

The first step involves a bit of daydreaming. Which races do you want to do? What distances? How many? Are there any specific events you really want to enter (we can recommend the Windsor Half Marathon in September…!)

Spend some time Googling local races, dream events, and unusual one-offs that you might want to include. This will leave you with a wish list of races so you can get strategic with your calendar.

Combining your life and running calendars

Now it’s time to make a plan. Grab a copy of your 2022 calendar and make sure it’s already got key dates like holidays, weekends away, half terms, birthdays (yours and significant others!) and particularly busy weeks.

Look at your wish list of races. Some of them simply won’t be possible due to date clashes. Others will get a green light straight away. The rest are up for debate. This is where you need to get smart with your plans.

Identify your A-race for the year. This is typically the longest (marathon or half marathon) or the one you really want to perform well at. This race is your key focus for the year, and it’s the race you build all other races around.

This knowledge will help you fit the “up for debate” events in. Ask yourself:

– will they help or hinder my A-race

– are they worth the travel, expense, training time

– will I get sufficient recovery between this race and my A-race

– will this race act as good training or race prep for my A-race

Can you use races as training?

Lots of runners only enter a couple of races a year, and we understand this approach. After all, races take time and energy out of your weekend when you could be doing a normal running route. But there are some compelling arguments for entering races as training.

If you’re A-race is long (half marathon or marathon), 10K races are a brilliant way to benchmark your pace and practice race day strategies. You can use local races to streamline your kit, packing list, breakfast, hydration, pacing and mental visualisation.

And if your A-race is a 10K or even a 5K, why not use a low-stakes local race to test your training? Entering a race applies a bit more pressure than a training run, but the outcome doesn’t really matter.

Plan your recovery

With all this race day planning, don’t forget to schedule in sufficient recovery. When you are putting your 2022 races into the calendar, look for the red flags of busy periods. It’s OK to race 3 weekends in a row, if the rest of your life is relaxed and low stress. But if the rest of your life is stressful and draining, don’t pile on the pressure by racing too often.

And don’t forget that racing actually impacts your weekly training runs. You can’t do both. If you are deep in a period of racing, you will need to take more rest days in the week and cut back on running.

Build time into your calendar for intentional rest before and after races. This could be days off, active recovery (walking and stretching), and early nights. Don’t make the mistake of doing from race to race without prioritising recovery as this will quickly lead to burnout and could impact your enjoyment of the whole thing.

Your race season training plan should follow an undulating strategy which includes base training, deloads, peaking for a race, and recovery periods. Look after yourself with a long-game strategy and you’ll perform better at every race you enter.

Windsor Half Marathon Sunday 25th September 2022 Click here to enter today.