Running a virtual race – love it or hate it?
While it is not my ideal race situation, virtual racing is the only option for many runners in 2020 and I’ve decided to embrace it. Sadly, with cases spiking and many holiday celebrations being canceled, there won’t be many of us turkey trotting with a crowd this year. But, that does not mean you cannot run your own virtual race and have fun in the process!
This year I’ve done several virtual races – 1 marathon (read my recap of the my virtual trail race here!), 2 half marathons, and 2 5Ks! I love to race and having something on the calendar to work toward really motivates me. I wanted to share my tips with you for running a virtual race and making the most of it!
5 VIRTUAL RACING TIPS
- Plan your route in advance. My personal favorite way to do this is using Gmaps Pedometer or Mapmyrun.com. For the first time ever, YOU get to chose your ideal race course!!! For a faster route, find something flat. For a more challenging experience, choose something hilly. Either way, you’ll want to know in advance where you’re going and when you want to turn around. Out and back routes are the easiest but loops are fun too! And if you want to get wild, you can even do a point-to-point and have a family member drive you back to your car or drop you off at the start.
- Treat it like a real race day. It’s tempting to think “It’s just virtual, who cares?” By going through your same pre-race rituals, fueling and hydration strategies you will make the race more special and also improve your performance. If you truly trained for to run a virtual race, you don’t want to throw away precious second or even minutes by not tapering or making fatal race prep mistakes like eating an unfamiliar meal the night before or wearing new shoes!
- Ask family and/or friends to be on the course or at the finish line. When I finished my virtual marathon hand in hand with my 3 girls, it was THE BEST. I went to a dark place around mile 19 and got super discouraged but knowing they were going to be at the finish helped pull me through! Even for a 5K, its more fun to have something at the finish line with you! Have your kids draw a chalk finish line or even create a make shift finisher tape that you can break!
- Wear a race bib. I truly think that by wearing a bib makes it more real! You’ll have random runners cheer for you! We made our own race bibs printed for our post wedding 5K and it was such a fun touch! You can make and print your own race bib on Etsy.
- Decide in advance if you will “race” it. You have to be in a certain mindset to actually race a virtual race. It is very possible to even PR in a virtual race, but you must DECIDE that you are going to treat it like a race and mentally prepare to stay strong when you want to slow down, even though the crowds and fellow runners won’t be there to help propel you. If you’d rather just cover the distance, that’s ok too! I’ve done it both ways – covering the distance of 26.2 miles on trails was an accomplishment but I personally only want to “race” a 5K since it’s a distance I cover on a typical run. For my first two virtual half marathons, I raced them and my last one I just wasn’t feeling it so I ran it as a training run for my marathon (meaning I ran it faster than I would normally have but not all out).
Every year for the last 5 years since our daughter was 1 month old, MIke and I have walked or ran our local turkey trot with our family. This year was no exception! We put the kids in the car and drove to the coast and ran 3.1 miles with the strollers. We then went home and I made us a thanksgiving dinner (with cookies for dessert, not a big pie fan!).
Need a Virtual Race Training Plan?
If you want to train for a virtual 5K, I highly recommend the 30 Day Breakaway! It is a 30 day 5K training plan that includes short audio guided runs and home strength workouts. I just started myself second round and I am loving it! During our first round, I had several of my clients PR in their 5K after just 30 days!!!
For more info and to join a 30 day breakaway accountability group, read this blog post.