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It depends a lot on your running goals and how/whether you can fit a monthly race into those goals. If shorter races are your goal, then the main caution is to avoid wearing yourself down by doing too many races - overtraining. If longer races are your goal, a race can often be substituted for a tempo run or other speed work. Again you run the risk of overtraining if you don't get enough rest/recovery days.
It all depends on how much you run. I am currently running 4-5 days a week for a total of 30-35 miles. I try to race as many weekends as I can, so in the end it is generally 2-3 a month. I am starting to run half marathons and I will try to do one every month or two, the rest are mostly 10K but I also run the ocasional 5k (about once every month).
5k: 20:12 (December 31st 2012)
10k : 42:30 (March 9th 2014)
Half Marathon: 1:35:27 (February 3rd 2013)
After completing my 10th HM it's marathon time! The goal is set for March 15th (tentatively at 3h20min, but it sound like science fiction at the moment so I might adjust it down).
I'm 55 and started running June, 2011. I did my first 5K in Nov. It was sooo long. Now I'm shooting for longer races but 5K is still a great race - a good training run. I have 2 coming up - next weekend and the following as well. It's motivating - I'm addicted to racing now but it's short and sweet. I never feel that I'm in danger of winning but I feel great afterwords. I belive that I'm about to do my first sub 30 min. 5K. I ran a 9:36 pace on a recent 4M. Bottom line is it should be fun. sign up, train, and then do it. You're part of a select group - be sure to record your time - compete with yourself ONLY and you can't loose.
I agree with the other suggestions....your personal goals, level of fitness and motivation for entering events are all important considerations. Some utilize races as another training day, while others participate to support a particular cause, and a few are just addicted to the overall competition, for example.
I think it is fine to sign up for as many events as you feel comfortable with doing. I typically try to participate in as many as possible because if you plan on running the weekend anyway, why not contribute to a charitable organization and have a good time? I pretty much race every weekend (although this is not usually recommended). If we are talking about the 5k, 8k, 10k level, I love to do two or three every month.
I am 53 and came to jogging about 4 months with no significant exercise in the past 35 years. I completed the C25K program (which I highly recommend) and a graduation 5K at the end of March. Immediately after that I switched to a program called Faster 5K, which is a 4 week program designed to start chopping time off your baseline 5K time. Completed it once and completed another organized 5K, and now am on my second cycle thru that program and am jogging another 5K a week from Saturday. My goal is to do 12 events in 12 months, hopefully with incremental improvement every time. Believe me, I have plenty of room for improvement, my first 5K was 31:44 and my second was only a 29:11. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! Good luck on your adventure
You're a champ! I'm 55 and have been running just under a year and am ON THE VERGE - should be this weekend of running my first sub 30 min 5K. I run 5 or 6 times a week and have NEVER been athletic. I write down my daily running so that when I get frustrated with all those sub 25 min 5K's I can see how far I have come and pat myself on the back. My goal is to run about 2 races per month and to increase the distance of those races - gradually. If you done all that you say that you have then you are on a great path. Keep it up. Nothing better than the feel of racing - regardless of how you did. AND if you are improving then it's that much better. And then you can feel better by how all of your friends are getting fat and old and you just keep getting better. Running is about doing something good for YOU. Keep going!
It looks like I'm a little bit different than the rest of you. I ran for a year and half, working through shin splints, plantar faciitis, and a hamstring pull. I have been running injury free since February. I average 20-25 miles per week with a low 9 min/mile pace. I have not even thought of signing up for a race. I don't know why. I just never think about it. I was going to sign up for a Thanksgiving "Pie Run" in 2010, but pulled my hamstring 3 weeks before the event. When I feel good, I run faster and longer. When I'm tired, I back off a little. I've done charity bike rides (MS 150, Rodman, etc.). Maybe I'll look into some of those for running, in the New England area.
It depends on your goals I think . Over the course of a year, I probably run something about once a month, in June I am tripling up just because of the dates things fall and doing nothing in July lol. I also run a variety, my love is overnight relays, Ragnar is what hooked me back into running, but I also enjoy half marathons and I will be running my first full in St. George in Oct. One of the things I like about scheduling frequent races throughout the year is it gives you concrete goals and reasons to continue training - whether it's using a training plan, just making sure you run some every day, or for social reasons ie helping a friend train for something or having them help you. Best case scenario is having multiple reasons to keep you running and keep you excited about running, because that will lead to more satisfaction, PRs, other goals realized, etc, and ultimately to more goals - unless you really do just run for fun and fitness and not to compete at all.
A lot of communities have free or extremely cheap 'fun runs' which are appropriate for someone new to racing, people who run with small kids, or people who just have no interest in either paying large fees for race entries or die hard competing. Either way I would encourage all runners to enter a race of some type even if you don't plan to run for a specific time because it's just fun, the atmosphere is different, and it may get you to consider racing in the future.
Ontario Mills 10K Jan 21st 2012 - 49:32 3rd place women (PR)
ARMC 5K March 10th 2012 - 23:02 1st place AG women (PR)
SoCal Ragnar April 19-20 2012 Huntington Beach to Coronado Island - 24.5 miles total, 8:30 avg
RoC Race Del Mar May 19th 2012 38:28 8th for div
Fontana Days Half Marathon - June 2nd 2012 - 1:37 PR!!!! (1:48 in 2011)
Wasastchback Ragnar June 15-16th 2012 Logan to Park City UT - TBA!
Mojave Narrows Half - June 30th 2012 - TBA!
Rockin the Desert Mud run - August 25th 2012 - TBA!
Red Rock Relay - Sept 7-8th 2012 - Brian's Head to Zion UT - TBA!
St George Marathon - Oct 6th 2012
Las Vegas Ragnar - Nov 9-10th 2012