Racecations have sharply risen in popularity over the past few years — and for good reasons. Why not combine your love of running with a trip to a new, fun and exciting destination such as Big Sur, Calif., Disneyland, or even London? While racecations certainly can have a place in your yearly training goals, there are also significant advantages to racing in your own city. Here are seven reasons why you should consider racing locally in 2016.
1. Less logistics, less stress.
A high amount of stress can accompany the journey to a race, no matter how exciting the destination or how well-organized you are. There’s booking hotels, which can sell out quickly for popular races, finding restaurants with that perfect pre-race dinner (or figuring out how to cook your own), traveling (hello, jet lag) and navigating through a new city. While these hassles are often worth the experience, there are other times when the comfort and familiarity of your own home and city are preferable. If you’re trying to PR in any given distance, a good night’s sleep in your own bed and a stress-free morning may be exactly what you need to focus on the race and nail that goal time.
2. Claim your spot on the podium.
I placed second in my age group at my first half marathon — not because I clocked a particularly fast finish time (I ran a 1:46:06), but because the smaller field meant I had less competition. There’s an undeniable thrill to earning that extra medal and receiving some recognition on the podium at a race. If you’ve never placed in your age group but have some decent speed, then consider competing in a local race. You may come home with a great prize, an extra medal and a new confidence in your running abilities.
3. Become part of your local running community.
If you spend a year running primarily local races, you’ll begin to recognize several familiar faces at each race. Local races provide an excellent venue for meeting other runners in your area, since people do gravitate toward races near their home. You could find a new running buddy, connect with a great local coach or even find a competitor who pushes you to run personal bests.
4. Less cost means more races.
The cost of races can add up quickly, especially when some of the big city races cost upwards of $100 for a half or full. Since they are smaller in scale, local races offer cheaper entry fees, which means you can save some money for your next half marathon. If you love to race, you can use that extra cash to register for more races or buy a new pair of running shoes. Sounds like a win-win to me.
5. Train on the course.
Specificity is the guiding rule for successful training for any distance, and you can’t get more specific than training on the actual race course. By racing locally, you have unlimited access to the course and can run your long runs and other key workouts along portions of it. You’ll gain a home-field advantage on the course and know to expect that hill at Mile 20 or that 180-degree turn halfway through the 5K.
6. Support your local economy.
Think of all of the money you spent during a race: parking fees, post-race beer and an indulgent dinner out to celebrate your accomplishment. When you race locally, you then shop and dine locally on race day. Shopping and dining locally supports small businesses and boosts your town’s economy, which benefits everyone and will help your town host more races and other community events in the future.
7. Your own personal cheering section.
Family often travel along for a destination race, but a local race allows all of your family members and friends to spectate the race and cheer you on. Anyone who’s run a race will tell you how encouraging a familiar face is when you’re at the most challenging and uncomfortable moment. When you race locally, everyone near and dear to you can watch you race, as they don’t have to travel far either!
With these and many more reasons, there’s no reason not to support your running community, enjoy the comforts of home on the eve of the race and run your personal best at a local race in 2016.