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6 Tips to Plan Your Perfect Race Calendar

By Ryan Turbyfill | March 25, 2014, 12:48 p.m. (ET)

bikingWith the 2014 triathlon season quickly approaching, you may have a full race schedule lined up. If not, it’s time to start thinking about your multisport goals and determine which races will best showcase all your hard work. Here are six key concepts to help you choose the best multisport races for you — whether it’s your first event or 100th.

Think about your goals. Before planning out the race schedule, goals need to be determined for the upcoming year. Is it to complete your first half marathon, set a PR in a 10k or qualify for Kona in an Ironman event? These goals will be your “A” races and fill in the racing calendar first. I don’t recommend picking more than two or three “A” races per year. Make sure they are spaced apart for best performances. Secondary “B” races are crucial for a dress rehearsal for the “A” races as well as to keep training fun by competing. These races can fill in between the “A” races.

Set a racing budget. Racing can be very expensive not only with registration fees, but also travel costs. Setting your annual racing budget will help determine if traveling out of the area with airfare and hotels is realistic. This will help decide if you should look at just local races and pick from those or be able to expand the race search.

Find your distance. Lately, it has become even more popular to go longer in distance such as the marathon or Ironman. But don’t get pressured into making these your type of race as some of the best athletes in the world race shorter distances. Take ITU elite triathletes, for example; they compete in Olympic-distance (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run) and are able to run as fast as a sub-30 minute 10k after the bike. Now that is impressive with some serious results. The amount of training time you have available as well as strengths such as endurance or speed will help you determine what distance you excel and have fun at.

Determine your competition style. What kind of competition and participants will be at the potential race? Some athletes like large races with great expos and can get lost in the crowd. Others enjoy smaller races to either stand out or have a more personal feel. If you are an athlete looking to compete against others at the start line, don’t just cherry pick smaller races — expand out and compete against some of the best to push your limits.

Play to your strengths. Your strengths can come into play when selecting races. If hills are where you tend to shine, pick a course with elevation gain. If in a triathlon, biking is your weakness, a flatter course may be best. Regardless of what race you pick, remember the No. 1 goal is to have fun. Take a minute during the race to say thanks to a volunteer and your supporters — and for the ability to get out there and compete.

Ryan Turbyfill is a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach and USA Cycling Level III Certified Coach. Having a family and as a cancer survivor, Turbyfill believes setting priorities in training and racing are paramount to a happy and successful life. He has competed in sprints to a full Ironman, as well as ultra-marathons and running the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim. Whether you are interested in improving your health, completing your first race or competing at your highest level, feel free to contact Turbyfill at  and visit his website at

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.