Annually, millions of people around the world take part in organised running events. For charity, competition or for pure enjoyment, there’s a running event for everyone, and every runner should take part when they can.
With so many different running events available, it can be hard to know which one is right for you.
Signing up to a running event is a massive commitment, so think about these 5 things to help you choose a running event right for you.
1. Your reason
People take part in running events for a whole array of reasons. Whether it’s fitness, competition, charity, a love of running or even a sociable platform for meeting new people, make sure you know why you want to take part in the event. If you’re motivated to achieve a long distance in a decent time to get fit, then a muddy short distance fun run isn’t going to fit the bill.
If you love the idea of helping others less fortunate than yourself, taking on a challenge and increasing your fitness, a charity half-marathon could be right.
Understanding your motivation will help you choose an event you’re going to be excited and passionate about, meaning training will be more fun and enjoyable.
- The race distance
I cannot stress the importance of distance enough when choosing a running event. How far are you realistically capable of running for in one go on the day of the event? 5K, 10K, a half marathon, a full marathon?Selecting a distance above your current capabilities, for a date in the future can be a great motivator to increase your fitness. For instance, if you’re currently able to run only 5K in one go you could book a 10K run, to encourage a new running plan to increase weekly mileage to eventually run a comfortable 10K before the event.However, only select a distance you know you can realistically run on the day of the event. If you’ve booked a marathon and have only ran 10K in one go, with no plans to increase weekly mileage, attempting to run a marathon is not only highly impractical, it’d be a huge risk to your health.You wouldn’t find an amateur sprinter taking on Usain Bolt in a 100m and expecting to keep up with him, in a controlled manner. Like most things, you need to train before you perform.
Make sure you think about distance carefully. You’ll thank me when you’re comfortably running a race well within your limits.
- Course difficulty
How challenging is the course you’re going to run? A relatively flat course, like the Brighton half marathon, is going to be easier and less challenging than the gruelling incline of the Itchen Bridge and undulating hills of the Southampton marathon. It seems trivial, but incline makes all the difference in performance and course difficulty.
You wouldn’t pick a holiday without researching the destination first, so make sure you know what the course is like BEFORE you book it.
If you’re a newbie to running, best to pick flat courses with few hills or twists and turns. If you’re more experienced, you are in a better position to climb hills and take on challenging routes.
Research the course; read a course description on the organisers website, watch You Tube videos, join online forums for the race, visit where the race will be held.
4. Cost of entry
Most events will require a fee to enter. Organisers need to pay for admin costs, marketing, banners, participant race packs, toilets, refreshments, medals, permissions, licensing and insurance.
Make sure you know how much an event costs before you enter it.
Ballpark figures for varied distances are:
Half Marathon: £30-£45
Marathon: £35- £70
Charity entries: Most charities do not charge you to run for them, but require you pledge to fundraise a minimum amount prior to the run.
Get the most out of your money
As the saying goes, you don’t value what you don’t pay for. If you pay a lot for a book, car, musical instrument, or a meal, you naturally want to get as much value of your spending as you possibly can.
Try using the cost of entry as a powerful motivator to train and prepare more for the race, particularly if you’re paying a lot for a half or full marathon.
Where is the event going to be held? In your local town? The nation’s capital city? A hundred miles away? Naturally, most runners choose events closer to them for the convenience of time, effort and money.Work out how far you’re willing to travel, say within 50 miles of your house, then use that to determine whether you will enter a race. If it’s a particularly special event, say the London Marathon or even the Boston Marathon, you might consider making the effort to travel further.
Try and travel further afield once in a while
Occasionally, it’s good to go further afield to participate in races; exploring somewhere new, taking on a new course, with runners in the field, will make your running adventure more fun.