The first and most important aspect of registering for a road race is planning ahead. Understanding which race you want to do will afford you the necessary time to organize your training regimen and register. Many popular races fill up within hours of opening, so if you know you want to do a race that's widely talked about, be ready to register as soon as it's available. See below for a step-by-step process from the road race search to the starting line.
Step 1: Do Your Research
Road races come in all shapes and sizes, so before registering try to get a sense of what type is right for you. Understanding your running expertise and strengths, whether it be short, long distance or even triathlons will help you narrow down the pool of races for you. Once you've figured out the distance you want to do, be sure to ask friends, family and co-workers for suggestions on specific races. Those who have run before will be able to give you insight on race course and conditions that websites can't offer. Most big cities host races in myriad distances, so look to the place you reside as a starting point.
Step 2: Go Online
Registering for a road race online offers the same conveniences many web transactions do, so be sure to search your designated race for online registration offerings. When registering online, make sure to accurately enter your age and gender, as these factors will most often determine what category you're placed in when the race results come out. Even if you don't win the road race, understanding how you placed alongside your peers is an excellent indication of your success in the race. Many races offer late or race-day registration, but these are better for runners who decide last minute to hop on board, as spots are less guaranteed.
Step 3: Do the Legwork
Once your registration is official, it's time to train! Ideally you've been running prior to registering, but once you've registered, you can tailor your training more specifically to that particular race. Research what kind of course and terrain your race entails and try to simulate those environments in your training. Enlisting a few friends to do the race with you is a great way to keep your motivation in the interim between registering and racing.
Step 4: Arrive on Race Day
While you've supplied most of your information in the online or pre-registration process, you'll still need to pick up race material ahead of time. Many races allow you to obtain your number, time-tracking device and t-shirt (if it's offered) the day or week before the race, so be sure to check the race website for directions. Getting this gear ahead of time will save you time on the morning of the race, when you'll want to put all of your energy and focus toward the race and not the preparatory details. If you're picking up your number at the race course itself, eyeball the area to get a good sense of the starting line and necessary facilities, such as bathrooms and first aid.