The disappointment of a canceled race season has quickly turned to many athletes embracing the unique challenges of quarantine, social distancing, and virtual events. From entire marathons run on rooftops and in backyards to worldwide virtual competitions, athletes have demonstrated amazing motivation and ingenuity.
We spoke to several Hive athletes to get tips on how to run (or ride) a virtual race. From route planning to pacing, nutrition to motivation, here is an athlete’s guide to running a virtual race.
Choosing Your Route
Having a unique route planned for you is one of the best parts about race day. When it comes to planning a virtual race route, there are lots of factors to consider.
If possible, a large loop offers the closest resemblance to a race. I’ll scout local roads to come up with flat or hilly terrain, and piece together a route based on how difficult I want to make it. – Derrick Eidam
Definitely depends on overall mileage as well as route fatigue. I often bike [my planned route] out first to spot it for safety when I run it alone. – Margie Muir Shylock
Depends on the distance, sometimes I run on a track and sometimes the road. I always plan my route ahead of time. In Minneapolis, many of our parkways are closed to cars so this makes it easy and safe to run in our new normal. – Sara Conrad
How to Pace Yourself during a Virtual Race
There may not be a helpful person running along with a pace sign, but there are plenty of ways to pace yourself that can help you chase a goal or stay on track for the long haul.
I run what feels good, walk when I need to and know my limits. – Margie Muir Shylock
I always feel about the first 1/2 mile and see where I’m at, and use my watch to help me stay on track. When I’m on the track I look at my 400 meter splits and try to settle in. – Sara Conrad
Effort! The best check is a respiratory check. – Jordan Broghammer
How to Track Your Virtual Race
Without a number bib and a timing chip, it’s up to you to track your mileage and time. Thankfully, there are lots of great tools for tracking and sharing progress!
Garmin Forerunner – I create a training routine to measure out the exact distance and let the GPS do its thing! – Derrick Eidam
My Garmin on the road and trail. Laps on the track since sometimes the Garmin is not accurate on short laps. – Sara Conrad
The Adidas app. – Kristen Dunn
Strava. The in-run features and huge athlete community make it feel (almost) like you’re racing against other people. – John Montesi
Aid Station Support
Without on-course aid stations and friendly volunteers handing out cups of water and snacks, participants have to get creative with virtual race aid stations.
I’ll typically carry a bladder backpack or hand bottle with a pouch for Honey Stinger energy gels and chews. My pack has a 2L bladder plus two 20oz quick flasks and pockets for Honey Stinger energy gels and chews. – Derrick Eidam
For a marathon I carry a hydration vest with 1.7 liters of liquid, all my snacks, cell phone, face mask, ChapStick, and sunblock averaging 6lbs. With the heat increasing, I consider where I can buy extra hydration along the way. – Margie Muir Shylock
I did a (near) 50k and had an aid station in my car at the 1/2 way point. I have a cooler with beverages – extra flexible flasks for my Salomon vest ready to go, Italian soda or coke if it’s hot, and outside of the cooler my Honey Stinger gels and chews. – Sara Conrad
A cooler with all my supplies. For longer than 25k I wear my Salomon 5 vest. It has two collapsible flasks (17 oz each). I stuff the front pockets with Honey Stinger gels and bars in the back. For less than 25k I carry a 20 oz. Nathan bottle and stuff it with gels. Sometimes I carry my phone, but not often. – Jordan Broghammer
I bring water and pack my Honey Stinger chews and ChapStick in a running belt with me on every run. – Kristen Dunn
Nutrition Strategy During Your Virtual Race
Being strategic about setting up your own aid stations means your virtual race may well be the best-fueled you’ve ever been.
[My nutrition strategy is] no different than a regular race. The atmosphere may be different, but the nutrition strategy is constant. – Derrick Eidam
Since I carry my nutrition it “seems” to be more readily available. I don’t find myself worrying so much about intake. I can eat whenever I want because I don’t feel the stress of limited amounts of food. – Jordan Broghammer
I always train the way that I race. – Sara Conrad
How to Stay Motivated
You may not have a cheering crowd or a pair of neon-colored shoes to follow all day, but there are plenty of ways to stay motivated during a virtual race.
Whether in a large race or in a virtual race, you are competing with yourself. Think about the things that bring you joy during a regular race and that can have the same effect during a virtual one. – Derrick Eidam
For the most part I treat a virtual race just as I would a workout. This way I do not get nervous about my upcoming “event”. I do most of my hard workouts by myself, so I just pretend I’m doing that but set a faster pace to try and keep. – Sara Conrad
It’s all about getting out there and enjoying the process. – Jordan Broghammer
Other Tips for Virtual Race Success
Ultimately, virtual races are equal parts fun and challenging. Lean into the routine of attending a race and embrace the lower-stakes atmosphere of putting in an effort close to home.
Remember – racing is fun! Virtual (or alone) racing is tough! Do not get down on yourself if your paces aren’t quite where you want to be, it’s all a part of the process. Take this time to do all the things – treat your virtual race as a real race. What is your pre-race strategy? What is your pre-race meal? What is your normal warm up? Keep everything the same as race day and you will find the fun in it. – Sara Conrad
Eat Honey Stinger, of course! – Jordan Broghammer
Stretch after every run! – Kristen Dunn