The off-season is quickly turning into pre-season and the pre-season is quickly turning into race season! While the pros focus on A-races and tune-ups, goal simulation races and points races, everyday athletes have a lot more options and more creative ways to go about planning the season. We talked to Team Amino Vital athlete and seasoned triathlete Beth Andrew for tips on planning your race calendar for 2014. Select a big race. She picks one big race. In fact, she’s chosen Beach2Battleship full iron distance as my big race once again, which will drive her entire season. All training should  progress and build to that one big race. But, Beth’s October race is so far away! So, she’ll fill her calendar with other races or events. Pick a race you've done before - and do it better. Improve one aspect or the whole thing, including overall time, the run pace and the transitions. Improve your nutrition or even the training leading up to that race. This fall, she is doing Patriot's Half Ironman for the second time. She did it last year and loved the course and the event as a whole, but didn't love her run. This year, she wants to see what she can do to achieve a personal best. Choose a race you've done before and do it differently. This year, her biggest event for the spring is North Carolina Tour de Cure. The Tour de Cure is a cycling event that raises awareness and money for people with diabetes. Last year, she did the 82-mile ride from Cary to Pinehurst. This year, she’s upping the ante for a double century—208 miles in two days! Find a race that you’ve done before and do it a different way. Do a triathlon as a relay or aquabike. Run in costume or better yet—volunteer for an event that you did last year! Pick an event that means something. For Beth, the Tour de Cure falls into that category as does the Azalea sprint triathlon. Her tri club is doing this event for a team member who passed away last summer. There are so many ways to race for someone or something that stimulates your heart and spirit. Team in Training and the Pink Ribbon foundations are the biggies, but you may find a smaller, local event that raises money for a cause you care about – and for people you see every day. Select a fun race. Choose something that is just for fun. Even the most competitive swimmers, cyclists and runners need events that are a relief from the pressure of performance or a personal best. Find a color run or an obstacle course or a team event that will allow you to go out and play. Her play race is the Myrtle Beach marathon relay this coming up weekend! Her husband and two best friends are splitting up 26.2 miles to keep their training on target and to get a medal shaped like flip flops! Choose a new race. Look for new races or opportunities to test yourself. It's easy to get stuck doing the same races. She’s done one event in her town for five years in a row! It’s time to branch out and find a new 5k or 10k around the same time of year. It’s also time to look for new triathlons. Beth has chosen a brand new international distance a few hours away.  It's in its first year and right now, there are less than 60 people signed up for it! Swim, bike and run out of the box. Choosing a new-to-you race means and automatic personal best! Make your list and check it twice. Most important: Stay fit! You never know when you’ll want to sign up for a race that might just be next weekend! Thanks for the tips, Beth! Tell us: What sorts of races will you compete in this year?

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