Quantity or Quality?

First of all, you need to know that I’m a planner. I don’t show up at an expo to register for a race at the last minute. I don’t run a race I haven’t made an effort to train for. I usually register first (especially if there’s a discount for early birds) and then plan my training around it. And because longer distance races require a couple of months of training, sometimes this means looking at race calendars waaaaaay in advance.

So when I got an email announcing the early registration for the Austin Distance Challenge–six races between October and February, I considered my options. The half-track challenge consists of a 10-miler, two 10Ks, and three half-marathons. I ran three of the six races last year (one at each distance) plus a different half-marathon, and thought maybe it would be worthwhile to take on the whole enchilada this year.

But then the rational part of my brain (i.e. the part not motivated by race discount offers and promises of shiny medals) recognized that taking on the distance challenge meant doing all the work I did last fall PLUS three more races–two of which are half-marathons. Mathematically, that’s 32-ish more miles of racing in addition to the 30-ish I ran last year, not to mention the extensive training required to get there.  Just thinking about that made me tired.

On top of all that, I signed up for the Army 10-miler in Washington D.C. in October. My friend J has run it the last several years and it sounds like a great race. I have enjoyed the 10-mile distance, so I jumped at another chance to run with the same race as her. But this one requires airfare and time off work, so that hammers the budget a bit. The good thing about this race is while it sells out within about eight hours, they let you sell  your registrations later. So I got in just after midnight the night registration opened, knowing that if, six months down the road something went awry, I could recoup my registration fees. Seemed like a safe bet.

Thus, my race decision crossroads. I could spend my money and time preparing for a few big races–the Army 10-miler and the Austin 3M Half Marathon–or I could sell my ATM registration and go for the Distance Challenge which costs about $50 to sign up, plus each race’s regular entry fees. In the end, I chose quality over quantity. I’m going to plan on traveling to D.C. for the ATM and then build up to the Austin 3M half, in an attempt to beat the time goal I missed by four minutes this year. I’ll probably also do the Rogue 10k, which is about two weeks before the 3M. The Run for the Water is a great race too–but it’s the week after the Army 10-miler and I don’t know if I want to do the back-to-back thing. I’m considering volunteering for that one instead.

I like having direction. And now I know that I can take it easy and maintain a solid 10K base this summer, then put my energy into a few significant goals in the fall. Sounds pretty good to me.

What about you? Do you have a packed race calendar, or are you selective about races and training schedules?

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10 thoughts on “Quantity or Quality?

  1. I’m a planner for sure. I only have two races on the docket right now (halves) because I want to concentrate on actually training for them. The local 5ks have lost their luster because of later start times and, let’s be honest, no bling bling. I find that if I don’t have anything in the future, I lose focus and motivation.

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  2. I plan my races out but that doesn’t mean that it is not jam packed. I ran three half marathons in less than 90 days to make sure I would qualify as a Half Fanatic. I am currently training now for my next set of half marathons leading up to my first full in LIttle Rock next year.

    So, yes, I plan them out because like you I prefer a discount. But I also like bling and can be easily swayed by other running friends to do another race with a pretty medal.

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    • Congrats on the Half Fanatic! And yeah, I know what you mean about being swayed by friends and/or medals. That’s how I ended up doing three half marathons instead of one! 😉

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