We get it. There’s nothing like competing in a race with fellow runners by your side, fans cheering you on, and free bottles of water from complete strangers as you wheeze toward the finish line. But a virtual race doesn’t have to be less rewarding, and that’s especially the case when you’re running for charity.
“A virtual race is a great opportunity to introduce family and friends to a nonprofit you care about,” said Kristen Lippencott, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield wellness program manager.
Here are 10 tips for a successful virtual race experience.
Prior to the event
- Your race, your route. In this virtual competition, you’re the runner and the race director. That means you get to choose the route – have fun! So long as you run the required distance, you can race in your backyard, neighborhood, a local park, etc. You decide.
- Lay everything out like you mean it! The night before your run, prepare what you’ll need to succeed. Select your body glide, car keys, charged iPod and earbuds, shorts, socks, water bottle (with water inside) – got it all? Good. It’s a real race, you’re a real runner so prepare like a winner!
- Eat and hydrate like a champion. The food you use to fuel your body the night before a run affects you physically and mentally. Select carb-rich options that you know can sustain you. Skip greasy, high-fiber, and spicy foods that may upset your stomach. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as well but do fill up on your water.
- Get some sleep. It’s more fun to run when you’re not groggy and tired. Some relaxing music and a bath may help you unwind.
- Start early. Competitive races often begin in the mornings so try to do the same in your virtual run to stay in a race day rhythm. However, if you’re not a morning person, no sweat. Complete the race in the timeframe given (a few hours or a few weeks depending on the event), and you’re golden.
- Be safe. Remember to maintain social distance if you’re running in a public place. Consider your route and, if possible, select a time when it’ll likely be less crowded. You may be running alone but you are part of a larger running community, so take care of yourself.
- Do your best. Maybe no one is watching, but you’ve trained for this and your personal best matters to you. Use your GPS or smartwatch to track your time. You can also download free tracking apps online.
- Remember why. You’re running for charity! If that’s not enough to get you across the finish line, what is? Organizations like Catholic High School Foundation and Alumni Association provide vital support in the local community and value your donations during these uncertain times.
After the race
- Treat yourself to a movie night at home along with a favorite meal, spend some time with your family, or sleep in the next morning. You can also journal your virtual race experience.
- Post on social media. Go online and tell others about your virtual event. Take pictures of any medal or other event bling you receive. Tell your family and friends why running for the charity you chose meant so much to you.
“The pandemic has changed a lot about the current state of running, but virtual races have many positives. Primarily, they’re events you can share with almost anyone despite your physical distance, and do good for a favorite charity in the process,” Kristen said.