The end of race season is bound to be a difficult time for most racers. We have had a blast jumping over walls, running up and down mountains, and wading through the mud. When your season is over it can leave you suffering from OCR withdrawal symptoms. It's natural to be excited about next year and it's tempting to sign up for more races right away, but that enthusiasm can become problematic without proper planning.
With so much temptation it is easy to get in over your head before you even realize it. After all, Spartan Race has their Trifecta, Savage Race has the Savage Syndicate, Tough Mudder has their Multi-Colored legionnaire headbands and the recently announced Repeat Offender program (Run a Tough Mudder Full and a Tough Mudder Half in two consecutive race seasons). More race brands are offering more options and more incentives to race their race over and over. Also, more races are being offered than ever, and that number just keeps growing. It's important to take some time to make a strategy for your race season. Signing up for races randomly or without proper planning can end up being a big headache. Here are a few things to consider when planning your race season!
Let's face it, the OCR world is an exciting one, and most of us can't wait to toe the line again. Instead of signing up for a race the moment it's announced jot it down on a calendar and give it some time. Most of the major race brands have their complete race schedules available near the end of the year. If you sign up too early, you might find out later that another race you were looking forward to is scheduled on the same day. This can come as a big disappointment, especially if that race doesn't have a refund option. More races are now offering optional race insurance, which can refund the cost of race admission if you can't make it, but it does come at an extra cost. Choose Wisely!
Going for the Gold!
While on the topic of money, the cost of racing is another huge consideration when planning your race season. Signing up for races can get expensive if you aren't careful. Other than the race entry you need to consider fees & mandatory insurance, parking, bag check, hotels, transportation, food, race fuel, hydration packs, electrolyte supplements, headlamps, etc. To help with these costs, always be sure to look for a promotion or discount code prior to signing up for a race. Mud Run Guide always has great discounts for most of the races out there. Be sure to consider all of the associated costs when choosing your races.
Don't Over Do It!
Allowing yourself adequate time to recover from racing or training might be the most important consideration, but it is often the most ignored. Even for people who are in great shape, the nature of OCR is to push yourself to your limits and beyond. It can take longer than a week to completely recover from an intense workout. Pushing yourself every weekend, without adequate time to recover, will put you on the path to injury. Getting injured is one of the most devastating things any athlete can go through, and the road to recovery is a long one.
Also, remember that racing frequently will wear down your body and your mind. It can take a lot of willpower to push to the finish line, add in the stress of frequent travel, and you're going to burn out eventually. There is no worse feeling than standing at the start line already feeling tired or anxious. It's a hard decision to skip a race that you are excited about, but sometimes it's the right decision. Racing should always be fun, the moment it starts to feel like a chore, it might be time to take a step back.
Think Of Others!
Of course, all of the best people you know will be out there in the mud racing with you. Even so, there are always those few people who have other things to do that day. It's important to think ahead and realize that there might be birthdays, weddings, or other social gatherings happening that might coincide with your race. Mark off any known commitments on your calendar before you even start looking at what races are available.
It's easy to look at social media and to get inspired by the pictures of so many people doing so many incredible things. But it is important to remember that we are all individuals with different lives, different goals, and different abilities. Evaluate your own mental and physical state, then pick the races that best suit your individual ambitions. You often hear the advice from the top OCR athletes that it's important to “run your own race.” Well, it is equally important to “run your own race season.” Taking a little time to plan out a great race schedule will ensure that you have your best race season!
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and official policies of Mud Run Guide LLC, or their staff. The comments posted on this Website are solely the opinions of the posters.