The first triathlon I ever signed up for turned out to be a scheduling disaster. I had no concept of planning a triathlon race calendar and when the triathlon I had signed up for got cancelled, it was already too late in the triathlon season to sign up for another one.
You don’t want this to happen to you. As such, planning your triathlon race calendar is really important because it can help keep you motivated during the season, especially while you’re going through those grueling training sessions.
Manage Your Time
Obviously if you don’t have a lot of time to train, you’re not going to do anything crazy like plan 3 separate Ironman races during the year. Sure, we all know one guy we know from the sales department at work that decided to “run” a marathon after having trained for three days by walking up and down the stairs to his desk, but as triathletes, we want to be a bit more prepared than that.
If you have enough time to train for shorter sprint or international distance races, then you may want to consider those first before trying to go for the long races. You want to make sure that your race schedule matches up with the volume of your training schedule.
Manage Family Time
Second, you’re going to want to look at your family schedule. Races can take up a lot of time. I know that for me, early spring and fall are really busy with activities for the kids, mainly soccer. So, I have to be careful in my scheduling to make sure I don’t schedule triathlons the same day that my kids have games or other activities, because for me, I don’t want to let triathlons become more important than showing my kids that I think their activities are important.
So no matter whether you have family, whether you’re single, in school, whatever your situation, you want to first sit down and look at your schedule and see when your free weekends will be, and how many triathlons your schedule can support. Triathlon season usually runs between April and early October, so that’s the timeframe you’re looking at.
The third thing you want to keep in mind when planning your triathlon race calendar is your financial situation. I’ve talked elsewhere about how triathlons are not necessarily cheap. (Hence the purpose of this website!) While there are things you can do to lower the cost of triathlon race fees, the more races you enter, the more money you’re going to be spending. So if you enter five Olympic-distance races, you’re going to be spending anywhere between $300 and $600, just for one season, and just for race entry fees.
So you should try to think about how your race schedule will impact you financially. Depending on your situation, it might be better to only enter 2 or 3 races one season and save that extra money, putting it towards needed triathlon equipment, if that’s the situation you’re in.