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Looking to 2020

December is an exciting time for athletes. It's lottery season for many of the big races - both running and riding. For athletes who aren't doing a race what requires a lottery, it's also when many races open registration for the next year. So many races, so few weekends and so little time to train. So how you decide what races to pencil in the calendar for next year? And if you do get lucky in the lottery or find yourself high up on a wait list, how you plan around those target races?

First off the lottery races. Yay! You got into your dream race.... Now what happens with all those other fun sounding events you were looking at? Time to break out the big picture calendar. I like putting the goal races down a bold color, then all of the other events in different colors based on timing and how much you really want to do them. Darker the color, the higher the priority. Look at the goal race, then consider your training. If you are doing a 100 mile race, will you really want to do that fun 50k two weeks later? Most likely not. But that same 50k if it's two weeks before? Could serve as a great supported long run. Just don't go into it with the mentality of having to race. Look at the travel involved to get to the different races. If something sounds like a really amazing course and works into the training, how will the travel effect things? Will you be able to get enough time off work to get to the race, participate, see the sights if needed and get home? What training will you be giving up to make the trip to the race?

If you got onto the wait list for your dream race, things get a little more complicated. When planning the year, you have to consider how far down on the wait list you are and how far down the race usually pulls. If you are higher up on the wait list then it’s safety to assume and keep fingers crossed. Plan your schedule around that goal race, but keep an eye on the movement. If you are lower down, then I always recommend having a backup race. Something that sounds just as fun - maybe not as high profile. I also recommend that your backup race be after lottery race if possible - that way you can afford to sit on that wait list until the end. Make that race that you might be able to sign up for closer to the race date, so if you don’t get off the wait list, you can make the most of the training. This is where a coach can help - reworking plans and schedules to reflect which race you end up doing.

Not interested in the lottery races? That makes things a little easier - but more complicated. Now you have control of the season, not the whims of the lottery gods. How to proceed? First off, decide which races sound the most intriguing. Which ones call you to sign up and why? Is it the course? The location? The people? Make your choices based on what motivates you - not what the group think says about different races. Once you have decided which race will be your goal, then start plugging in the other interesting events. The darker the color on the calendar, the higher priority or motivation for the race. Follow the same guidelines regarding timing and travel - running the epic 100k a month before your goal 50 might not be the smartest choice.

One final note regarding planning your season. Consider your support crew. Endurance athletes might consider themselves solitary athletes - but that’s the furthest from the truth it can be. Without that strong support crew, it’s challenging to find time to train. Without the support crew, races become even bigger challenge. So when you are picking races for 2020 think about what your crew will have to do while waiting for you - both in training and during the race! Can they entertain themselves while you are out training if you plan on training on the course. Will the race be endless driving from aid station to aid station? Or a more family friendly setting? Involve your crew and support in the decisions about the season.