It is a runner’s worst nightmare! You have spent weeks and months training for the big race that has been circled on the calendar, then disaster strikes and the race is canceled. A few years ago, this would mean hanging up the running shoes or finding a different race down the road. Luckily, in this day and age due to the coronavirus pandemic, runners have a wonderful new option in the form of virtual races.
Some may ask, what is a virtual race? As many popular races have made the public health decision to cancel their in-person races, many want to continue to keep runners engaged. As a result, they have opened up the option of running the race virtually. Competitors can run the distance of the race wherever they may be at home, in the city of the race, in another state, or even in another country. When the competitors complete their distance virtually, they can track it along with their time in apps like Map My Run, Runkeeper and Strava, and submit as proof of completion. Runners can even receive many of the same perks as an in-person race including a T-shirt and medal.
Benefits of a Virtual Race
Fortunately, a virtual race can have many advantages. First of all, competitors are given the wonderful opportunity to achieve their goal and finish their race! Although they will not be competing next to hundreds or thousands of competitors, they will be able to achieve the race distance, possible personal records and their running goals.
Additionally, as the race may be virtual, it can still foster a sense of community for fellow runners. A 2017 study by Guerin, discovered that one of the benefits of social media for female Olympic athletes is being able to connect with other athletes.1 In the midst of a pandemic, completing virtual races and connecting with other runners that have completed the same virtual event can continue to foster connections, inspire new training partners and create motivation for other runners to progress their athletic goals.
Lastly, when races do start up again, participating in virtual races can continue to advance runner’s fitness levels. Many runners are motivated by a future race they have circled on the calendar. Virtual races are a great way to fill the gap from now until in-person races do start back up again. For example, competitors that would like to complete a marathon in the next year, may benefit from a virtual 5K or 10K to address and progress their speed prior to increasing distance for their marathon. As a result, virtual races continue to foster positive energy through motivation, connection and preparation for the future.
Preparing for Your Virtual Race
Although virtual races may not be the norm, runners should continue to practice proper and normal preparation prior to these events to enhance performance and reduce injury risk. Following a training plan for a race is a great plan to ensure that a competitor can attain the required distance and perform at their best.
Additionally, performing a dynamic warmup prior to the virtual race is essential to further reduce injury risk. Below are some great examples of proper dynamic warmup exercises:
If questions or injuries do arise, contact your local Athletico for a free assessment. Assessments are available both in-clinic and virtually through our telehealth platform. Otherwise, we’ll “see” you on the racing course!