No crowds, no start gun, no parking problems, no porta potty lineups.
A new trend in the running community is virtual racing. Like many of us, road race organizers have had to get creative and adapt to our post-Covid world. For the foreseeable future, mass participation road races have gone virtual. Runners sign up for their virtual race online, choose their own starting line, run the distance, upload their finishing time and a few days later are mailed a medal. Fans not included.
If you are brand new to virtual racing and not sure how to approach this type of race, here are our top tips:
1. Set a Date
Most virtual races provide a generous window for you to participate. The Turkey Trot gives participants a 15-day window to complete the race. For some individuals, the flexibility can help accommodate busier schedules, but for others who love to procrastinate, this flexibility can potentially lead to some issues down the road.
My suggestion is to treat it like a normal race, look ahead in your calendar and set a date. Tell your friends. Or run with someone in your bubble. Keep yourself accountable and give yourself something to work towards.
2. Set your Course
One of the cool features of virtual races is having the ability to pick where and when you’ll run your race. Mapping out your route ahead of time allows your mind to relax during the race so you can focus your efforts on getting to the finish line.
If you're after a PB, try and find a flat stretch of quiet road where you can get into a nice rhythm and roll on. We’d also suggest getting an early start so you can beat the traffic on the streets.
To map the route we suggest using online mapping programs.
A couple that are free and easy to operate are Plot a route
. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of measuring out a course try Run Go App
, a Vancouver based company, they provide one of the easiest ways to run a route, with turn-by-turn voice navigation.
3. Just Do It
At the end of the day, you’ve got to treat it like any other race and just go for it. It may feel weird not to be surrounded with hundreds of other runners, but this style of time trial racing gives you the opportunity to explore your own limits. Invite friends and family out to cheer you on to add a little bit of excitement to the atmosphere. Lastly but most important, remember to have fun.
Check your shoes a couple before any race. Do they need replacing?
Be sure to tag @racketsandrunners on Instagram with your virtual race pics to be featured. Good luck!