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How do you choose the right race? Six things you should know before running a marathon

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When it comes to enjoying race day, nothing matters more than picking one which truly aligns with your goals and body’s potential.

How do you choose the right race? Six things you should know before running a marathon
The idea for modern marathon was inspired by the legend of an ancient Greek messenger who raced from the site of Marathon to Athens, a distance of about 42 kilometres, or 26.2 miles, with the news of an important Greek victory over an invading army of Persians in 490 BC. After delivering the message he collapsed and died and that’s how marathon got its name.
Why it is important to choose the right race?
“Marathons should be a course of event where you get to explore and live the city on foot as well as enjoy support from the local people. It shouldn’t feel like a punishment, no matter how difficult the run and terrain is. Though pain is inevitable, we can always minimise the suffering,” says Deepak Oberoi, co-founder of Mumbai Runners and Bombay Running. Currently he is training close to 1000 runners on ground and sets training goals for himself as well.  He has been helping a lot of runners improve their running form because of his experience and passion for this sport.
When it comes to enjoying race day, nothing matters more than picking one which truly aligns with your goals and body’s potential.
A marathon can be both thrilling and terrifying especially for first-time runners -- this is true while choosing the right marathon as well. Since this is that time of the year when you sign up for a lot of races, I have rounded up the most important factors to consider while choosing a marathon under the expertise of Deepak Oberoi.
Pick the right date and focus on your training plan
It is important to give yourself a minimum of three months and work on a training plan given by your coach. Training under the guidance of an experienced coach gives you an added advantage to understand the science and technique behind running a marathon. Tactics are more important than strength when it comes to running a marathon.
Your coach is the best person to help you plan your race day strategy.
Consider the race location
Whether you are running a local race or a destination race, location is one of the crucial factors which will successfully help you achieve your feat. You don’t want all the efforts you have put in for the training to go down the drain which will further demotivate you just because you did not choose the right location.
Some runners prefer the loud and cheerful city marathons while others seem to like the quieter ones. Big city marathons mean lot of cheerful crowd and support but the small town marathons are equally enchanting for their beauty and landscape. So depending on your goal and training, you should carefully choose the right location.
Weather and its impact
Depending on your body’s potential, what suits you the best and the amount of training you have put in, you should know which race to select and during what time of the year.
If your body performs the best in colder conditions you must choose a marathon during the winter and vice versa. Now, if you’re not sure what to pick, you can go for a race in the winters, where the weather’s generally cooler and more comfortable for running. But it again depends on how your body is designed to take in.
Some runners love the heat, but if you are one who prefers cool and breezy mornings, you probably should aim for a marathon later in the year. Also, remember you aren’t just choosing what the weather will be like on race day; you will be running a lot in the season before your race, as well. Hence, it is important to train in all weather conditions.
Organisers
If all the above points are in your favour but the organising team is not, then it again becomes a determining element for your race. Therefore it is important to know who is organising the race, their history and reviews. What draws attention from a lot of runners is the cost of registration, route, elevation, organising committee and the after-run refreshments. A good marathon considers all these things under a nominal price and gives you the best of it.
There are some parameters which are under our control and this is a critical one.
Acclimatisation and destination events
If you are used to training in hot and humid weather conditions, look for races where there are similar or cooler weather conditions. Also if you are planning to run in the mountains and training under normal weather conditions, it is ideal to undergo that level of training to withstand harsh change of weather.
For example, if you are planning to run a mountain marathon like the Ladakh Marathon, you should train with a running mask. It is a progression to maximise breathing technique while you run so that you are breathing through your nose, which will keep your diaphragm engaged longer. This will ensure adequate air turnover on each breath, and deter you from resorting to shallow breathing. This prepares you to sustain the thinner air.
Also if you are planning for a race in the hot/humid weather you should run longer during the day so that your body does not go into shock mode during the race day.
Feel good factor
In the end all that matters is how good you are feeling post your race and whether you have achieved the sense of accomplishment. Don’t just run one to say you’ve done it; make sure the race excites you so you can enjoy the entire experience. Running is about having fun! So when getting ready for your marathon enjoy the process, don’t overthink it and just take each mile as it comes. Trust your training and know that no matter what happens, whether you run the world record or just barely make it to the finish, enjoy it all.
Tanvi Kulkarni is a sales professional working with an insurance company and part of Bombay Running Crew.

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