As we count down the days until the start of 2013, this is the time of year many runners pull out their calendars and start planning out their races for the next 12 months. But before you end up regretting your race choices, consider these race planning tips:
Plan around big races. It's easiest to pick your big races, like a half or full marathon, first and then schedule your shorter races around them. You can use the shorter distances as training or tune-up races in preparation for your bigger events.
Do your research. Find out as much as you can about the race before you sign up. Many race web sites will include information about the course, the number of participants, the course amenities, race giveaways, and typical race conditions. There are many sites that include reviews of running races from real runners so you can get the real scoop about the races.
Give yourself enough time. If you're fairly new to running, you should plan 8 to 10 weeks to be ready for a 5K or 10K race. You should allow 12 to 14 weeks for a half-marathon and 16 to 20 weeks for a marathon.
Register early. Once you've picked your races, don't wait too long to register. Many races, especially big marathons and half-marathons sell out early. Plus, signing up for a race will make you feel more committed to your training because you'll have a date on the calendar and an "official" goal that you're working toward.
What races are you planning on running this year? Are you thinking of running your first race? Share your plans in the comments section.