How to Plan Your Race Calendar: The 5 W’s and a Peek into 2017

How to Plan Your Race Calendar

As in life, there are seasons to running and racing. In 2016, running took a back seat as I only participated in two races. For me, that is an incredibly low number, especially compared to my #runalltheraces years of 2012 and 2013! Since I am now feeling pretty settled in Kansas, I figured it was high time to start planning my 2017 race calendar. Moving to a new area makes planning a race schedule a little tricky with all of the unknowns but I resorted to my 5 W’s to help me pick the perfect races.  So, if you are getting ready to plan your 2017 before those pesky price increases, here are my tips, tricks, and questions to ask yourself before you plan your race calendar.

How to Plan Your Race Calendar:  The 5 W’s

WHO: Who will help you get to the starting line and be your support system in the process? Will there be training buddies or a running group as part of your training and race plan? Who are you going to be running with on race day? Some runners have to get creative in order to fit their mileage into their weekly plans and other commitments. Deciding whether or not you want to train with friends, a running group, or solo can factor in to your race goals.

WHAT: What distance are you hoping to cover? Are there time goals that you have in mind? What does the course offer? Tackling marathons and ultras can take more careful planning and more time. Yet, choosing a short race may satisfy your need to build speed. Targeting a personal record in a certain distance can also factor in to deciding on the perfect race to meet your goal.

WHERE: Where do I want to run? Location, location, location, my friends, is a huge factor in deciding on a race. Are you interested in staying local or do you want a race vacation. I love both. Sometimes I want to head somewhere new and bring the family along. Then again, sometimes I want to travel with girlfriends. Sometimes I try to work a race into pre-existing plans. And sometimes, I want to focus on a goal time so I want to run a local race where I can train on the course and sleep in my own bed. Oh, and take a look at the course map prior to signing up.

WHEN: When do you want to race? The time of year for the race will dictate when you will be training for your race. I don’t mind winter running, in fact, I enjoy it, so I am crafting my 2017 calendar to be prepared to tackle a few races this spring. So, if heat, humidity OR ice, and snow aren’t your thing, make sure you plan accordingly!

WHY: Finding your WHY is always important when setting your race schedule. Some runner may decide to run in honor of someone or for a charity. Others may have a desire to set a positive example for their children. Runners have any number of reasons why they run. Find yours and remember it because it will motivate you when the training runs are difficult and the cloudy skies roll in during your long run.

A Peek Into 2017

When I took a step back from racing in 2016, it was because my life was in a bit of a chaotic state and running was the furthest thing from my mind.  I started an extensive job search starting in January because I knew the hubs had orders to Kansas.  Things were also very difficult because I experienced a significant loss in my life.   Shortly after my Poppy’s death, I interviewed for a promotion {I’m a social worker for the government} and received an offer.  I felt as though my job offer to work with Families of the Fallen was a sign from him that I needed to take the job and move to Kansas early.  In hindsight, I wasn’t really ready for the move {Living at West Point we were only an hour from family} and to be away from my family for those weeks was really challenging.

Plus, jumping into a position that required me to talk abut death and dying on a daily basis was very hard when I still was reeling from a huge loss. Yet, once my family arrived in Kansas, things slowly settled into place and we are found our new normal in our work and home life through the summer months.  It’s difficult to have a social media presence during trying times as you see folks crushing their running goals while you are firmly stuck on the couch.  So as I emerge from this phase of life, I’m hoping to hit a groove and get my love of running back.

Racing and training take up a fair amount of time so I wanted to feel secure in my new position at work and our family routine before making the commitment to running again. Thankfully, I am ready to start digging in!  To make the most of our time in Kansas, I selected the Heartland 39.3 series!  It’s 5 weeks, 3 races, and covers two states.  Perfection!

How to Plan Your Race Calendar: A Peek Into 2017

WHO? I will train for this event solo. I haven’t found a running group here in Kansas and I enjoy fitting running into my schedule as it allows. I’m slowly suckering a friend {Hi Mar!} into coming out for one of the races. She needs the Midwest in her quest for all fifty states so why not, right?

WHAT?  Over the course of five weeks next spring, I will run three races, The Rock the Parkway Half, The Garmin Half, and the Running with the Cows Half.  I will probably pick one of these races as my goal race and run the others for fun.  I need to research typical race conditions before I pick my goal race.

WHEN?  April and May – Just before we say goodbye to Kansas!  Given that we are moving again in 2017, I opted to stay local for the beginning half of 2017.  Hopefully it won’t be too hot and I have no problem with training through the winter months.  I also can’t really plan the back half of the year until I know where the Army will take us OR I decide to plan a race vacation.  I will probably just try to hang tight and wait on the good old government.

WHERE?  This will allow me to check Kansas and Missouri off of my running bucket list. Boom!

WHY?  I need dates on the calendar to kick my butt into high gear!  Without races on my calendar, I found myself slacking with running this year.  I need that extra layer of motivation.  Plus, I’ve heard some pretty fantastic things about the BLING!

What are you tips for how to plan your race calendar?  Any other midwest races I should consider adding to my calendar before we leave next summer?



  1. Omg you guys are moving again?!? I don’t blame you for staying local with your races for the first part of the year. Best of luck with your transition!
    Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…My First Marathon Will Be…My Profile

  2. Wow! Your schedule looks like fun. Thanks for the great tips!
    Jennifer @SimplePureWhole Wellness recently posted…Heavy Metal Toxicity: Part II Simple Solutions to Reduce Your Risk from Heavy Metal Toxicity {Pure Living}My Profile

  3. Yup, you got me 😉
    Mar @ Mar on the Run recently posted…My Experience with HelloFreshMy Profile

  4. These are great tips. Three half marathons in five weeks is no joke so kudos to you for making that your goal.
    Karen @ Runwright recently posted…Wolf My Profile

    • Thank you! Back in 2012 and 2013, I ran a ton of races. I haven’t done something like that in a while. Hopefully this will give me some solid motivation this winter!

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss. You have given some great tips for planning. I am going to check out the heartland series. It’s funny that Kansas is considered midwest, so is Michigan and Kansas seems so far away! If you ever want a vacation marathon, I suggest Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City (Northern Michigan). It’s beautiful and such a fun, supportive atmosphere.
    Wendy Hammond recently posted…Why Diets Don’t Work (and what does)My Profile

    • I never knew Kansas was considered the midwest until I moved here! I’ve heard amazing things about that marathon! At some point I would like to run a race in all 50 🙂

  6. That’s a great way to think about planning your race schedule! The Heartland Series sounds awesome, I hope you have a great time and hopefully Mar will join you! Congratulations on the new role!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…Philly Marathon Training Week 12 RecapMy Profile

  7. I’m so sorry for your loss. I recently loss someone special too very recently. And running has helped cope with it. Thanks for those handy tips about planning your race schedule! 5 Ws it is 🙂
    Madhuri recently posted…Tête-à-tête with a weighing scaleMy Profile

  8. The Heartland Series sounds so exciting! All the best for an awesome running year in 2017!

  9. Steve Kolb says:

    I ran this series this year (actually the first three halfs I had ever done) I would say shoot for The first or third for your PR. Unless they change the Garmin course from this year it was the toughest of the three. Although this year it was only a week after RTP and I see this time they spaced it better. The last one is smaller and very rural and relatively flat but it’s also the end. The first races has a nice long uphill start but that means a nice long downhill finish.

    • I guess you certainly went big with your first race attempt! I need to look at the courses but I have a feeling that I will try to use the third race as my goal race, especially since I have heard it is the most rural of the bunch. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the race series!
      Lisa recently posted…The Magic of Running with My Daughter!My Profile

      • Steve Kolb says:

        Here is the elevation and route map for Running With The Cows from this past year. Keep in mind I do a run/walk style so my pacing drops at regular intervals when I walk so it doesn’t always correspond to the elevation.

        Actually, I can’t paste it in. Feel free to email me and I will send you the screen shot or if there is a way to email you the workout from Map my Run I can do that as well.

  10. I am so sorry for your loss! This race series looks so much fun!

  11. I just came across this post. I signed up for my first half. It is RWTC on May 13th! My goal is to finish before the course opens up to traffic!

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