With the restrictions in place globally owing to the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, runners are looking for alternative ways to stay motivated. Although there are many runners who just enjoy to run on their own, for many it is the social element and race day goals that provide them with motivation. Virtual runs have been around for a long time, but with the limited option for events, and concerns over Covid-19 safety, Virtual events are becoming a popular option. Throughout this blog post I will highlight why I believe Virtual running events are booming; how to make the most of a virtual event; and where to look for your virtual event.
Why are virtual running events growing in popularity
Virtual runs have always been a good option for those that want to have a challenge over a period of time, its a good way to monitor progress. For many virtual events you will pay to enter and receive a medal at the end, a token of the achievement you have undertaken. This is especially popular for those involved in running communities, or those that don’t necessarily want to take part in a physical event. At present a big factor in the boom is there isn’t really another option. Having a goal, is part of the motivation to keep many of us running, and it is hard to structure training without a target. There was even discussions a few weeks back about “wasted training” as events were cancelled. Personally I don’t think any training is wasted, as there are health benefits and physical improvements from doing the training in the first place, but a virtual event will offer that sense of fulfilment; a target to aim for.
On top of this there are more people finding the love of running during Covid-19, people who have taken up running during lockdown, welcome to the running community. It is so fantastic to see lots of new people taking up running, and if you are looking to improve, but don’t know where to start, HERE are my Top 10 Tips for New Runners.
I love the London Marathon, so when this event was cancelled I decided to run my own marathon “on a treadmill” on the original scheduled London Marathon date. You can see how I got on HERE. The rescheduled date has been cancelled for mass participation, but for the first time London Marathon is open as a Virtual race. I will be taking part, will You? Over the last few months I’ve done a milage challenge, running from LEJOG, and doing the virtual RTTS over a week.
How to make the most of your virtual run
Prepare as you would an actual race, prepare your nutrition and safety, involve other people, just because its a virtual run doesnt mean you can’t safely do it with someone else. Consider safety and intensity. I personally don’t have a desire to run as fast as I can on a virtual race, instead treating it as a super long run. Doing this makes it more accessible for more people. When you increase intensity you increase risk, and I would suggest if you do this, to involve others. You could get people to join you on your run, or meet you at certain points to give you supplies, or even run smaller laps near your home. Just don’t push to your limit with no-one around to look out for you.
You can also involve charities with your challenges in order to raise their profile, and offer them support. This will also help motivate you further to complete your challenge.
Where to find your virtual event
As a starting point look at the events you would have been running, many are offering a virtual alternative. You can then consider those events you would have dreamed of entering, for the first time London Marathon have offered a virtual entry, I’ve also entered New York Marathon, and this option is available to everyone.
There are lots of existing virtual challenges, and just this week World Marathon Majors have announced their Global Run Club with lots of virtual challenges. With many of these virtual challenges you have the option to take part for free, so it is truly an inclusive event. Or you can add extras such as medals and shirts if you wish.
I have never considered virtual events as an option for me, until now. I love the social aspect, and the atmosphere of the event, and that isn’t going to change. However, I think this growth in virtual running is going to stay beyond the restrictions in place, providing people with more options and opportunities to be involved. The opportunity to set challenges, and take part in an event virtually, and the community that brings. I can foresee race organisers adding the virtual option in addition to events, and with the growth in popularity of running this will widen the opportunity for people to be involved. Just think, London has hundreds of thousands of disappointed ballot rejectees every year, if they had the opportunity the add a virtual entry this could be a huge gain. Now imagine an option to gain guaranteed entry after a set number of virtual entries, would you do it?
What are your thoughts of virtual events? Have you taken part in any, would you take on a virtual challenge yourself? I’m interested to know your thoughts
The challenge is not the event. It’s the journey you take to achieve your target… its the distance, the time, the goal… Do your challenge, your way…Paul Addicott, 2020