Whether this is the year you sign up for your first 5K or you’ve decided it’s time to make good on that decades-old resolution to go from an Olympic-distance triathlon to an Ironman, it’s important to take time for reflection before going registration crazy. Put those race signups on hold – just for a few minutes! – and consider these five factors first.
1. Is my body in decent enough physical condition to embark on a training regimen?
If you have a nagging injury or a persistent cough, it’s important to get those lingering issues taken care of before committing to your race goals. The race you’re dying to do may be four months away, but it’s crucial to treat any tender, achy, annoying body issues before you start training. Anything that hurts on the first day of training will likely only get worse with each workout. A happy, healthy body is your best advantage when it comes to training and racing. Consider visiting your general practitioner for a routine physical and to get the okay to start training.
2. Can I commit to making time to train for this race?
Considering running 26.2 miles this year or completing your first century ride? You’ll have to put in the work to get there – and the time. Marathon training, for example, requires a handful of mid-distance weekday runs, plus a weekly long run ranging from 15–22 miles. If you’re training for a 100-mile cycling event, expect to spend 4–6 hours at a time in the saddle. Factor in preparing for your workout (coffee, bathroom, repeat – that time adds up) and recovering from it, and there goes a big chunk of your weekend, morning, or evening. While plenty of people with demanding jobs and busy lives make time to train for serious endurance events, it takes commitment and dedication.
3. Do I have the support I need from my family, friends, or colleagues?
If you have kids, will someone be able to care for them while you’re doing your workouts? If your job is especially demanding right now, will your coworkers or boss understand if you want to cut out early to get your workout in – and are compression socks considered acceptable attire at the office? Will your friends mind if you have to duck out of happy hour on account of an early workout the next morning? Your friends and family members may not always understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, but their understanding is a major added bonus. (Plus, having loved ones on the sidelines as you approach the finish line will make the race extra rewarding.)
4. Am I in a solid place financially to train for and complete this race?
How much is the actual race registration? While 5Ks and local swim meets generally clock in at less than $50 a piece, popular marathons can run upwards of $200 (like the Disney race series and the New York City Marathon), and an Ironman triathlon will run you up to $700. Add in shoes and apparel (you can find running shoes on the cheap, but most are more than $100 apiece), equipment (a serious tri bike will most definitely cost more than your monthly rent), and your preferred method of recovery (whether it’s a $20 foam roller or bi-weekly physical therapy or massage appointments), and suddenly a one-day race is a long-term investment. Not all races will cost a pretty penny, but it’s imperative to consider the monetary investment of your bucket list item.
5. What’s my motivation?
When you have to do a 5-hour training ride in 20-degree weather or you’re due for a track workout in the pouring rain, you’re going to want to remember why you’re doing this. Whatever your motivation is, make sure it’s something that’ll get you out the door to train when you’d rather stay in bed.
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.