Register, train, race: It’s that simple to set up your race calendar

A group of people posing for a photo at a race.

img_7385-400x274-1399630I ran into a long-time friend of mine who is recently returning to the gym after taking some time off following the birth of her son.

She mentioned that she wanted to try her first official running race this Spring. “But, you know, I don’t know…”

As her voice trailed, I seized the moment to offer her some motivation and support, “Do you have a race in mind?”

“Yeah, I’m thinking about the April Fools Run,” she replied. The Atlantic City April Fool’s Run offers some odd distances (to play on the April Fool’s theme): 7k, 11k, and a “traditional” half marathon.

“Awesome! That’s a great race to do. When you get home from your workout today, go online and register right away,” I told her. “If you register, you’ll have to do it. It’s that simple.”

She gave me a somewhat dubious look, but agreed. “Yeaaahh, if I register, I’ll do the training, and then I do the run. That simple, huh?”

“Yup,”I encouraged further. “Register, make your plan, train and race. It really is that simple to set up your race calendar. Then, you’ll have something to shoot for to keep you motivated.”

Now, when I say “it’s that simple,” I don’t mean to imply that the process of training and competing in a race will be simple. It won’t be. But, the challenge is what makes it worth doing.

If you want to do a race, then the first, most important step, is to sign up. The act of signing up is a commitment to a specific, measurable goal. And it is a very simple step you can take to make your goals real and to make yourself accountable to reaching that goal.

Yes, you will still have to figure out how to balance your time for life, training and work. However, with a race in mind, you are now training for a specific goal, rather than simply working out. As a result, you will be less tempted to just veg out on the couch and more likely to put in that training session to bring you one step closer to your desired outcome. You will come to see yourself as an athlete, and athletes must train.

Yes, you will still have to push through difficult and maybe even painful training sessions. Again, having a specific goal in mind will help you push past those temporary moments of pain to find places of inner strength and will you didn’t realize you had. You will find that the limits you thought you had were simply self-imposed, and you have more to give than you could ever imagine.

But, you have to take the first step: Register for a race.

This advice isn’t just for first timers. Maybe some of you have been wanting to try a new distance, or a faster speed at a familiar distance. This process works the same way: register, train, race. It’s that simple.

Team No Limits at the 2010 Atlantic City Marathon. From left: Tracy Simone and John Jenkins (both qualified for Boston that day); Jeanne Jenkins and Helena McAdams, both of whom completed their first 10k that day. There is a space for everyone!

Maybe some of you are thinking, “But, but, I’m not competitive! I don’t want to race!” That’s okay too.

The endurance sport community is diverse – and there is room for EVERYONE in this tent. Whether you want to go fast, or you just want to survive, your goal belongs to you and it’s something only you can make happen. And that’s what we celebrate on race day: individual perseverance, commitment and accomplishment.

Following the race, the camaraderie of the endurance sport community is uplifting and offers the type of support and encouragement that just might have you signing up for the next race as soon as you get home.

Take the time now to get your race calendar set up by identifying potential races for the upcoming running and triathlon season. It’s important to realize that many triathlons and popular running races often sell out weeks and months before race day. For example, many Ironman races sell out a year in advance!

Taking some time to register now can ensure you claim your space at the starting line.

Some of my favorite resources to help you set up your race calendar include the following sites (alphabetical order):

  • Active. All types of events across the U.S. and the globe- running, triathlon and more. (Many race directors also use for registration sign up, so it can be a one stop shop – once you find your event, you can register!)
  • Cycling calendar featuring races and other cycling events, mostly US events.
  • Iron Distance – full Iron distance triathlons (non-IM branded)
  • – for all Ironman-branded race series events
  • Marathon Guide. Half and full marathon events around the world. Searchable by U.S., Canada, and other International.
  • NJ Shore Run. This site includes a race calendar for running and triathlon for NJ, as well as the surrounding states. Updated regularly as new events are added.
  • Race Forum. NJ, NY, PA & DE running & triathlon events.
  • Rev3 Triathlon Series. A series of half and full iron distance events held around the world.
  • Running in the USA. Searchable by state and distance, from the 5k to marathon. Also includes triathlons and trail races.
  • Trail Races. Race calendar offered by Trail Runner magazine.
  • Ultramarathon Calendar. When the marathon just isn’t enough… Site features races across the U.S.
  • Ultrarunner’s Calendar. Ultramarathon calendar offered by Ultrarunning magazine.
  • USA Triathlon sanctioned events. Triathlons across the U.S. sanctioned by USAT.

Hopefully a combination of these sites will be useful to your research. Once registered, training begins. It’s just that simple.

Register, train, race: It’s that simple to set up your race calendar
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