How to Make Your 2014 Chicago Race Schedule

That’s enough, winter. Don’t you know that it’s running season? Well, maybe not quite yet (though the F^3 Lake Half Marathon is just around the corner on January 25th), but a new year means a new racing season and I’m itching to go!

In order to make sure you hit all the events you want to this upcoming 2014 race season, the best course of action is to plot out your schedule. Here’s how I made mine:

  1. Set your goals. Pick the distance you want to train for—I want to do a marathon this year, so naturally I picked the mack daddy of Midwestern races: the Chicago Marathon in October. I also want to do a half marathon prior to the full, to ease myself into it. Whether you’re training for a mile or an ultra-, choose your anchor race(s) for the season.
  2. Pick your exact races. My favorite sites are the CARA database and the Runner’s World Race Finder. Both sites allow you to search based on location, date, distance, and more. Once you know your goal distance, check out your options year-round in Chicagoland and set your sights on your favorite race.
  3. Pick a training plan. For my half marathon, I’m using a schedule I’ve used before: Self Magazine’s half marathon training plan. For the Chicago marathon, I decided upon patron saint of CARA and distance guru himself, Hal Higdon’s “Novice 2” program. Both are 18 weeks.
  4. Update your calendar. Knowing my anchor races and how long I need to prepare for both, I can cross-reference my calendar with the training schedule and find out which long runs correspond to which weekends.
  5. Add more races. Now that you know which long runs fall on which weekends, you can head back to CARA and Runner's World to find more races in the area. If I'm running the Chicago Spring Half on May 18th, that means my long runs during training fit perfectly with both the Shamrock Shuffle on March 30th, and the Chi Town 10K on April 6th. You might have to shuffle a few dates around, so be flexible!
  6. Stay vigilant. In updating your calendar, add daily workouts in as a constant reminder, and don’t forget important dates, like registration opening, packet pick-up, and more.

 There you have it! That's how I put my schedule together for this entire year, beginning training this month and ending with the grand finale of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 12th. Have you put your schedule together yet? Any tools, tricks, or tips, we should know? Leave a comment below or share on Twitter at @StrideNBC.

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