Sure, only selecting running races if you are a runner is a good start :) After that, obviously, you want to make sure its a proper distance given the training time and days to the race. And of course, if one needs to travel to get to a race, is the cost/time appropriate. These are all the basics, but what I want to focus on is how you will feel after a race!
Yes, selecting the proper race can have an effect on your self esteem. Who knew, right? Now, if you are not a natural competitor, you can disregard this entire blog postings....but if you are competitive (even if you have never partaken in a running race before - you know who you are), read on.
Step 1: Find a race that meets your initial requirements of distance/location/cost
Step 2: Look at last year's race results
Step 3: For your age/gender, where would your expected finish time rank? If you PRed, would you still be on the bottle half of your rankings? If you ran awfully (compared to your ability), would you still be well ahead of last place?
Step 4: Decide
Yep, I must admit it...thats what I do. I ran a poor race at the Creaky Bones (most of it beyond my control) and yet still placed in the upper 50% for my age/gender. But then a few days later, I run a PR at the Boo Run and still place in the lower 50% for my age/gender. Now, that was disheartening...sad to say.
Sure, I know I'm improving and its all good, but if your goal is to be a certain place in your age group, make sure your expectations are reasonable based on last year's results.