It’s now been 2 months since races started getting canceled. Two months of not getting that motivation that races provide. Two months of missing the social interaction of running with (possibly 1000s) of your best runner friends. Naturally, runners are looking for something to fill that need. At the same time, organizations are trying to bring in income or fulfill the promise they made to provide a race or, unfortunately, take advantage of the situation. Yes, I’ve heard rumors of fake virtual races out there. So, here are my tips to have a successful virtual run.
- Choose a legit race. OK, maybe you didn’t get a choice because the virtual is the option given to you for a canceled race. But if you are looking for a new race, there are lots of options out there. Some things to look for: companies that did virtual races BEFORE this all started, companies that did in person races BEFORE this started (some, including MCM, are allowing people to sign up for a virtual race that has replaced an actual race), reputable charities that are hosting races. If you’ve never heard of a company and it’s the first race they’ve ever done, I’d think twice before paying to run.
- Choose a race that won’t hurt you. I ran the Yeti Ultra recently. I saw a lot of people doing it undertrained. That’s absolutely fine IF you listen to your body. But don’t decide to run a marathon without training. Make sure that the “time limits” are something you can do without hurting yourself. It’s ok to go outside your comfort zone a bit, but think about your choices. Don’t let FOMO or an amazing medal dictate.
- Read the fine print. Some races need a screenshot of your time or a picture of your Garmin. Some races require you to use Strava and have your account be public. Some races have actual dates you have to run on or time limits you have to meet in order to get your swag. Some are straight up honor system and require no reporting at all. Make sure you know what you are getting into before you decide. (In case you are wondering, the GVRAT is 1021km, not 1000, so don’t accidentally DNF!)
- Plan your run. Figure out a route. If it’s a virtual that involves running at night (Yeti or a true relay style race), make sure you have a plan for safety. If it’s a mileage run (like the Great Virtual Run Across Tennessee or the One Wisconsin Challenge), think about how many miles you can safely run a week and whether you are going to count walking.
- Don’t go out too fast. I’m watching people run the GVRAT and so many are suddenly running a level of mileage that they’ve never running before. And two weeks in? I’m starting to see posts about feeling worn out or various body parts hurting. Personally, my goal is to finish without injury. Also, I have a rhythm to my running week, so while I am slowly building mileage on each run, I am not suddenly running the exact same number of miles each day or suddenly running several long runs a week. (I am just trying to slowly get more and more ahead of the Buzzard…)
I don’t know what the future holds for racing. I expect that small races will return first and certain locations will start up sooner. (I actually saw mention of a small race that happened in Oklahoma today.) I am personally having to evaluate if I want to defer Marine Corps or risk having to run it virtually. Seeing as how I hate running more than 15 miles in training, deferring would make sense to avoid 26.2 by myself, but I’m signed up for the Semper Fi medal and I already did the virtual Historic Half. Decisions, decisions.