So Many Events to Choose From

It used to be “back in the day” all an endurance athlete had was a local 5K or 10K to compete in. Today, there are almost too many endurance event types to choose from – road races, Ironmans, Half Ironmans, mud runs, sprint and olympic triathlons, obstacle races, urban runs, half marathons, marathons, trail races, endurance relays (road and trail), mountain bike races, century rides, duathlons, ultra marathons and track races. And if you get into the different types of themes for all of these events then you can go from a “vanilla” 5K event  all the way to an urban-team-relay-color-mud-disco-80s-santa claus-road-and-trail-team-challenge type of event.

Let’s give you a little help with figuring out what is the best endurance race (or races) for you and your endurance goals.

Timed or Non-Timed Event?

Are you looking to get break 1 hour in a 10K? Better you friend’s Spartan time? Break 12-hours in an Ironman? Do you want concrete empirical evidence that you completed in an event and beat some men and women in the process? If that’s the case, then the majority of races out there are going to be fine for you.

But, if you are all about going out there with some friends/colleagues and having some sort of bonding experience then a non-timed event will be fine. Many of the obstacle types of races are not timed, as well as the 5Ks where you run through bubbles, foam, paint, lights, etc. These events are to get you out there, be active, have fun and party a bit afterwards.

Run, Swim, Cycle – All of the Above?

I’m a runner. So I like to run. Although I’ve had fun doing the occasional triathlon – my love is running. But I say if you are just coming into endurance sports then try them all! You may fall in love with cycling or mountain biking after getting on the saddle. You may find you like the serenity of swimming in a pool/lake really fits you. You may love running in the trails or paths by your house, and take to trail running right as your foot lands on the dirt. Simply try any of these disciplines a few times before you disregard one of them altogether. There is a learning curve in all of these endurance areas, but if given an honest chance, you may at the very least appreciate what is required to be proficient in any of these modes.

Short or Long Distance?

Here’s me about to get on my soapbox – Running, cycling or swimming in longer distance events DOES NOT make you more of a runner, cyclist or swimmer! But if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me after finding out I’m a runner, “So, how many marathons have you done?”, I actually think I could quit my day job. And while I have done eight marathons in my life, I would consider myself more of a miler or 5K runner, because I’m actually better at those events than I am in running a marathon. The reason I bring this up, is so you understand that training hard for any distance is challenging if you are doing it right.

Some of us love running, cycling, swimming for hours, while others of us like to be in and out of a workout in 60 minutes or less. Don’t feel you have to do a marathon, century ride, Ironman or ultra marathon because all of your friends have done one. If you like 5Ks then stick with 5Ks. If you like sprint triathlons – then sprint away, my friend! On the flip side, if you want the challenge of being on the roads or trails for 3-24 hours then do that – there truly is a race and event for everyone.

Sample the Endurance Flavors Out There

While we all lean towards doing events that come more naturally or easier to us, it’s always good to get out of one’s comfort zone and do an event from time-to-time that maybe is not your forte or favorite. If you would have asked me if I would ever run a marathon (even when I was a collegiate middle-distance runner) I would have said you were nuts. I still want to try one of the Spartan Races or Obstacle events one day and I may  (and I do stress may) even do an ultra race in the future. I have done a mini-triathlon, duathlon and trail races before, even though my first love is track & field. So sign up for an un-timed bubble-gum-blow-light-neon-flash-rainbow-sparkle-confetti run if you usually only race  serious road 10Ks. And why not see how fast you really are by entering into a competitive endurance race rather than a un-timed obstacle race…Hey, I’m just happy you’re out there and being active – but try to sample as many of these endurance events as you can.

 

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