2020 was kind of a bust as far as competing in races. Most events were flat-out canceled and others transitioned to a virtual event. My cousin’s husband was scheduled to run the London Marathon last year and it was postponed not once, but twice and then it went virtual. His course consisted of large loops in his town to complete his 26.2 miles with only his family and some friends cheering him on. He dug in, carried on, and raised a lot of money for Autism research.
But not many people, prior to the pandemic, would choose to run a virtual marathon. Oh, times, they are a changing.
Every day I get an email about a new virtual race. This leads me to believe that we might not be in-person race-ready for a bit. This further leads me to believe that I’ve got to get motivated because my mileage is for crap these days!
If you are ready to shake the dust off of your running shoes and get virtual, here are some tips.
- Rally some friends to sign up with you. Training loves company.
- Pick your distance. My rule of thumb is to select a distance that’s farther than you can run right now. If you can run a 10K easily tomorrow, what’s the point of signing up for the race? The distance should be challenging but not impossible.
- Find your race. Check out www.active.com for a list of virtual events. Aim for a race that’s 10, 12, or 16 weeks out so that you can have a proper training period. Even though this is a virtual event, those training miles matter.
- Base your training plan on the time you can commit to training. If you select a plan that requires 5 days of running a week, plus 2 days of strength training and yoga but you have little kids at home, you and your wife are juggling work, and childcare, you might select a plan that isn’t so intense. Maybe a 3 or 4-day plan is better suited for your circumstance right now.
- Plot your course for race day early so that part is set. Map My Run allows you to search for or even create your own route. Once you pick your course, DON’T run it again until race day. Just like an in-person race, we don’t often run the course beforehand and part of the fun is letting the course unfold.
Finally. Commit, recommit, and keep your eye on the prize. Virtual races, unlike in-person races, don’t have the built-in excitement and energy that you may be used to so staying motivated can be tricky. And to that, I suggest you make a big freaking deal about your race. Mark the calendar, put post-it notes in your house, buy new shoes, mention it in all of your Zoom calls “Yeah, I’m good, just ran 8 miles today. You know, I’m training for the SF Half marathon in July”.
Most importantly, treat this virtual race with the respect and reverence you do an in-person race. And have fun! Because races are fun. And you are awesome!
Now go run!