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Which Road Race Is Right for Me?

The world is your oyster when it comes to selecting a road race. They come in short, medium, long and mega-long distances and occur throughout the year, in a variety of geographic locations. When choosing which one you want to run, use your strengths, experience and goals to determine which race is right for you. Be sure to consider which time of year you want to run the race and what type of course terrain you can handle. Ask friends or coworkers for suggestions on particular races. Those who have run a particular race before can give you insight on the actual experience of running it. 

Find Your Strength

Road races come in such a wide variety that they attract an inherently diverse population of runners. To determine which race is best for you, first figure out what distance you are most comfortable and successful running at. Set a time to run for about five miles and gauge how you feel throughout the run. If you prefer to expend all your energy initially and tire or bore after the first few miles, a shorter race such as a 5K might be your niche. If you feel like your body takes those first few miles to warm up and you only start to get into it by mile three or four, you're better suited as a distance runner. This can mean anything from a 10k to a half marathon, so to determine how much of a long-distance runner you are, conduct another test run. Increase the distance and see how you feel throughout.  If your body feels comfortable continuing by the end of it, you're well-suited to very long distances. 

Examine Your Experience

Once you've determined which distance is best for you, work on crafting your particular goals for a road race. Are you looking to say you finished, or are you trying to beat a previous best time? If you're striving for a certain time, look for a race that requires you to qualify. This will require a great deal of training up front and is typically for the more seasoned runner. If you're instead looking for the experience of running a race or a certain distance, look for races coming up in your city that will still allow you the time to train. If you're a running novice, be sure to add several weeks to your training regimen, specifically geared toward getting used to running form and cardiovascular exercise. 

Consider the Course

Not all races are created equal, even those of the same distance. Before registering for a particular race, research the terrain and route. If you're looking for a challenge, opt for a race with a hilly course, while if you're a new runner, you should look for something a bit more level. Be careful to consider what time of year the race is. Running a race in the middle of summer heat might present a challenge to a first-timer, so look for races during more moderate-temperature months. 

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