How to Get the Most Out of a Virtual Race

How to Get the Most out of a Virtual Race:

If you’re like me and miss racing, you might opt to run a virtual race. Unlike in-person races, you can choose the time, location, and course of your own virtual race. Do you want 0 feet of elevation change? You can. Do you want 100000 feet of elevation change? You can.

me looking watch

While Strava records are forever, there isn’t an official timer at the start of your virtual race. Just you and the trust that you are racing. Since the pandemic, virtual races have grown significantly more. After all, in-person events are pretty much gone, so there is a new void to fill.

But, Virtual Events have been around for years. They aren’t new; they are the latest running trend. You don’t need to sign up for a Virtual Race to run hard. You can do that alone.

Virtual Races can bring a sense of community and belonging. It can be hard to find that now!

Benefits of Virtual Racing:

  • Goals: You have something to look forward too. Whether it’s a 5k, 10k, or marathon, you have something on your calendar.
  • Find Your True Fitness: You get to see what kind of fitness you’re in: When you race hard on a course you picked, you get to see the type of fitness you’re in. It can give you goals and motivation to look forward too.
  • Build Mental Toughness: Virtual racing helps build mental toughness. Why? You have to push yourself. No one is telling you to run faster or harder, just you.
  • You’re the Race Director: For many virtual races, you are the race director and get to do everything from choosing the course and even race day, to start the official clock (your watch). You can cherry-pick everything to make it you’re perfect race.

So How Can you Get the Most Out of Your Virtual Race?

Know Your Why:

To get the most out of a virtual race, you need to know your why. It’s the same as running an in-person event. Why are you running a virtual race? Is it because your goal race was canceled? Do you want something to provide structure in your everyday life? Do you want to end your training season? Is it to connect with other runners and feel like you are a part of something more? Is it to raise money for something or a meaningful cause? Are you running a virtual race because it sounds fun?

There is no right “why” to running; it just needs to be important to you.

Find the Right Course for You:

Everyone has their favorite types of courses. Maybe you like a few rolling hills or maybe you want a flat out and back. Whatever type of race you like, you get to choose! You get to choose everything from the start time, the race course, and the elevation profile. If you’ve always wanted to run a 5k on the treadmill, go for it!

Don’t forget to stay safe. We don’t get the luxury of closed roads, so when you’re crossing, you’ll still have to wait for traffic.

Treat your Virtual Race like an In-Person Event:

This is an important part! Why? To get the most out of your virtual race, you must treat it like an in-person event. The more people that know you are running a virtual race, the more likely you are to be accountable.

A Common Question About Virtual Racing:

Can you pause your watch?

This depends on the virtual race rules. If a virtual race has prizes or awards, the general answer is no.

The truth is, if you pause your watch during a workout or virtual race, you are only fooling yourself about fitness. To get the most out of your virtual race, your watch should stop when the race stops.

Accomplishing any running distance is an accomplishment and it doesn’t matter the pace or time. If you are going for a specific time goal and stop your watch, you’re only hurting or fooling yourself. By stopping your watch or taking a break, it’s going to mimic an interval workout rather than a race.

One of my favorite lines is: “no one cares more about your running than you.”  Runners support you no matter your time. 

Don’t Forget to Brag about Your Race:

Often times after you finish your virtual race, you upload your finish time to a platform to be included in the race results.  You can see how you stack up against anyone and everyone!

Don’t forget to brag on whatever social media platform you want too.  You worked hard for your virtual race result and don’t forget it.  Some virtual races give out medals so you can participate in #medalmonday.

Finally, Stay Safe:

This goes without saying but follow the rules your area has set in place include social distancing. There is a reason races are canceled and these rules are in place. Stay safe, so you can stay healthy and get back to the in-person events soon too!

A few simple ways to stay healthier when out:

  • Don’t run or virtual race if you feel sick (now or anytime).
  • Run alone.
  • Respect the 6 feet rule.  This includes passing other runners.
  • If your parks are closed, don’t go there.
  • Carry your own fuel. Most public bathrooms are closed but avoid them.
  • Touch as little things as possible. If you touch nothing on your run, you’re doing a great job.

Finally, keep in mind there is no right or wrong way to run. If you want to run every virtual race available to you, go for it if you don’t want to run at all go for it. Virtual races can provide structure and routine for those of us who crave that in our everyday lives.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport.

Questions for you:

Have you run a virtual race? How do you get the most out of your virtual race? 

How has your running been lately?