Federal and postal workers and retirees will have their work cut out for them during the Nov. 9 through Dec. 11 open season when they must pick a health plan for 1988.

White-collar federal workers can anticipate a January pay raise of 2 to 3 percent. Retirees are slated to get a cost-of-living adjustment of about 3.7 percent. But because premiums in the federal health program are going up an average of 31 percent, those pay and pension increases will be eaten up, in many instances, unless workers and retirees move into less costly plans.

Although 449 plans participate in the federal health program, Washington area residents generally are eligible to participate in 20 to 25 of those plans. Overall, 296 plans in the program, most of them health maintenance organizations, are reducing premiums. But some of the most popular plans are raising rates between 40 percent and 70 percent. Premiums for Blue Cross-Blue Shield's high-option family plan, for example, are going up $31.59 per pay period for employes while Aetna, another insurance giant, is raising its high-option family premium $43.30 every two weeks.

During the open season we will have a series of columns listing some possible best-buys for singles, families, retirees and people with special health problems.Nike Capital Challenge

Five hundred scantily clad members of Congress, political appointees, civil servants and media types will bare some government secrets Tuesday morning as they do their annual three-mile huff-and-puff run around Hains Point. The footrace is sponsored by Nike to benefit handicapped children. This year's field includes 11 senators, 22 representatives, 14 federal judges, several agency heads and at least two Cabinet officers in addition to a batch of reporters and editors. Finishers get a high-status T-shirt. Awards are given for the best and worst team names as well as to the fastest VIPs. People

Susan Ticknor has taken over as news director for the Federal Trade Commission. She will fill in for Barbara Rosenfeld, who has been selected as an American Political Science Association congressional fellow.

John R. Stepp is the acting deputy undersecretary of labor for labor-management. He succeeds Stephen I. Schlossberg, who has become director of the International Labor Organization's Washington office. Meetings

National Association of Retired Federal Employees Georgetown chapter will have a special program at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday on the Constitution. The meeting will be at the Guy Mason Recreation Center. Call 338-3908.

NARFE's Alexandria chapter will meet at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Lee Senior Center for a special meeting with candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates. Call 548-5272. AFGE Health Plan

The American Federation of Government Employees union health plan is included in this year's federal health program. AFGE met a deadline imposed by the Office of Personnel Management to repay the government $1.2 million in funds that were supposed to be used for the health plan reserves but wound up being used by the union for other purposes.