If you have done a fairly large-scale race before--you might have heard a race director or finish line announcer boast about how many racers have come from far-away lands to take part in the event that day. This is sort of a fun thing to make note of--but if you’re trying to run the best race possible, it’s tough to make an argument against staying close to home.
What makes your close-to-home race your best bet for a new PR? Let me count the ways:
- Short travel to the race start. This means that you can sleep a little longer, take your time eating your pre-race meal, or, at worst, stress out in the comfort of familiar surroundings.
- Familiar locations typically mean you know the “hot spots” for parking, shortcuts to the starting line, and good meet-up points near the finish line if someone is picking you up after the race.
- You’ll save a ton of money on food and lodging!
- Speaking of food: when you’re near home, you’re typically more in control of what you can eat the evening before and the morning of your race. When you’re in unfamiliar territory, there is no guarantee that you’ll have nearby grocery stores, or restaurants that would feature the kind of healthy pre-race meal options you’ll want.
- More familiarity with the race course. While it can be fun to check out new venues--if you’re trying to race your best, the name of the game is keeping stresses to an absolute minimum. Familiarity with the course takes a lot of uncertainty out of the race, and requires less effort mentally.
- Along those same lines, the extra stimulation of new scenery can distract your focus from the ultimate goal: running your best race.
Destination races can be a great time, for sure. But if you’re shooting for that PR and you’ve been training for four or five months to do your best--my advice is to leave less to chance and make sure your goal race is close to home.