As you map out your race calendar for the season ahead, recognize the importance of choosing the most meaningful finish lines to you. Consider what season you are in, where you started, where you would like to be from a long-term perspective and your current strengths and weaknesses (areas of opportunity). No two people are in the same season and no two race calendars and training programs should look alike.
First, determine your "A" races. These races are the biggest achievements you want to accomplish within the next year. When considering your A race(s), goals generally include aiming for races of greater distance, improving speed within a specific race distance or trying new types of races entirely. For example, you may be seeking to complete your first Ironman, PR in a 70.3, to become faster and stronger in sprint distance events or try something new entirely, like an adventure race. Based on where you are and what your long-term goals are, will determine your A races for the upcoming year.
Once you've decided on your A race(s), your next move is to determine what additional events will assist in achieving your A race goals. These are your "B" races. B races are placed strategically before your A races throughout the season to help you achieve your A race goals. Depending on your goals, these races may be completed for speed, used as a warm-up, help to fine tune your transitions and/or racing nutrition/hydration, test new gear in a race environment and work out any kinks prior to your highest priority events.
Once you've determined your B races, now it's time to choose the "C" races, if any. C races are events throughout the season where you support a good cause, enjoy a race socially with friends or even use as a training race to push yourself slightly harder than you would in a non-race environment. C races are not meant for PR's or speed; in fact, depending on your personality, C races may not be a wise move if you are unable to dial it back in a race environment. The proximity of C races in comparison to your A and B races may be harmful rather than helpful to your A and B race goals if you push too hard. Do not compromise an A race performance with a C race. C races can also be used to fine tune transitions and kinks and test new gear, just like a B race.
Altogether, you may have numerous races on your calendar, or you may have just a few. Either way, it will be unique to you. So, continue to think about the race season ahead. Reflect on your current season and remember to never compare yourself to others. Backgrounds, training and racing history, history of injury, lifestyle and goals (to name a few) are vastly different. It's not about competition with others, but the competition within yourself. Yesterday's achievements are yesterday's achievements. Consider what you are doing today, tomorrow and the next in the pursuit of chasing your best self. This doesn't necessarily mean greater distances or faster paces, but continuing to live the lifestyle, maintain balance and set the example for your family and community. Never stop in the pursuit of chasing your best self.