Picking your big race wisely

If you have read my articles you know I am fan of outcome performance based goals and prioritizing competitive efforts. I have all of my athletes, whether they are recreational or competitive cyclists, runners or multisport athletes prioritize their events/races by applying a letter grade to the event. The grades we use are A, B and C priority events.

A-priority events are your most important competitions or events of the year. These events could be championships or just your hometown race. In any case the A priority events mean that the athlete has created a structured training plan that culminates in amazing fitness in time for the A-event. Athletes take special care in their training in the 2-3 weeks leading up to an A priority event to “peak” in order to show up in top form.

B-priority events are important events and usually lead up to our most important A-events. B priority events do not require special care leading up to the race like an A-event. B-events may even serve as a back up plan to an A priority event.

C-priority events are low priority events that may be scheduled for training or for the experience of competing on a new course or in a new town.

Most new competitive endurance athletes would be wise to schedule only one, maybe two, A-events a year. Trying to schedule more than three A-priority events in a year for intermediate to elite endurance athletes can lead to burn out.

So when you schedule an A-event you want to make sure of a few things before you make an investment in time, energy, finances and emotions before committing to your big event.

Here are some things to think about before committing to the big A-Event:

  • Do you have enough time to train prior to the event?
    • Depending on the event and your current fitness, training could take as few as 6 weeks to as long as 6 months to prepare.
  • Do you have the finances to train and participate in the event?
    • Training and competing can be expensive. Create a budget.
  • Is this a new event?
    • New and newer events have a habit of getting canceled.
  • Is this event well sponsored and attended?
    • Ask around about the event if you have never been before.
  • Will your motivation last until the big event?
    • Planning an A-event in the same year your currently training in will help reduce the lack of motivation to train and or participate.

Have you ever had an A-event canceled for any reason? It’s tough when it happens. Actually this happens to athletes I coach regularly. The bigger question is how are you going to deal with it.

This just happened to me and it’s actually a bit like the grieving process. There is this shocked disbelief, sadness and eventually anger. I know that this may seem a little foolish, as it’s just an amateur event, right? Sure. One that we may train hundreds of hours for, sacrifice for and even make large emotional investments in.

I am fortunate that I scheduled a couple of B events in the same month as my first A-event so it wasn’t as huge a crush when the news came out. Having the back up plan helps especially if you have several events that you plan on participating in.

For those of us who can only afford to train for a handful of events a year pick you’re A-event wisely, do your research and make sure you have a back up plan.

If you have never planned to peak for a race it can be daunting task. If you feel like you need help but don’t feel that you are ready for a coach or think you can afford one, contact me and we can talk about building you a custom training plan.

Good Luck and have a great event/race,


Coach Rob



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