What Is a Virtual Run?

Participating in running events can be a thrill. The support from cheering crowds and the camaraderie among the runners is certainly something to celebrate. But there are drawbacks to these events, too. You might not be able to participate if the date, time or location doesn’t work with your schedule. You may feel pressure to run at a certain pace, which can be intimidating for beginners. Or maybe you just don’t like dealing with early morning race times, big crowds, bad weather, parking fees and portable restrooms. In these situations, a virtual run can be a great way to still get some of the benefits of an in-person race without any of the drawbacks. So what is a virtual run? Check out this guide to virtual run events to learn more and get tips for participating.

How a Virtual Run Works
Virtual runs are organized online. A group or individual plans the event and then invites runners to sign up. Then, you can complete the run on your own time and at your own pace. You can choose to run at home or with friends, indoors or outdoors. Some events even allow you to run on any day you want, while others encourage you to complete your race on a certain date.

Depending on the event’s setup, there may or may not be a competitive aspect to the run. For example, you may be asked to send in your race time, and the names of the fastest runners might be posted at the conclusion of the event.

What Is the Purpose of a Virtual Run?
In some cases, these events are part of virtual running challenges. For example, there might be a virtual race to help people prepare for in-person races at a later date. This gives them a chance to try out different training schedules leading up to the race and test out their planned day-of race rituals, like what foods they eat, how much they hydrate and the pace they run at.

Other virtual run events can be planned to help people meet fitness goals, to raise money for charities or to just enjoy the thrill of a race. For instance, you might sign up for a virtual 5K race to bring awareness to an important cause and encourage donations from your friends and family. The Couch to 5K (sometimes simply called C25K) is a running program that helps first-time runners get on a training program that helps them work toward a virtual 5K run in just nine weeks.

How to Sign Up for Virtual Races
Some traditional road races offer a virtual race as a companion to their in-person event. This allows you to sign up for a 5K, half marathon or marathon regardless of your location. If you don’t have a specific race in mind, however, you can go to websites like VirtualRunEvents.com to find one that appeals to your interests and availability.

Virtual Run Tips
Never done a virtual run before? Follow these tips to get the most out of the experience:

  • Be sure to train just like you would for an in-person race to complete the race at a pace that makes you proud while avoiding injuries.
  • Get involved in the online race community. Fellow runners can be a great source of support and motivation.
  • Make sure you have the right gear for the race, like quality running shoes, a mile tracker and a running belt to carry water, your phone, keys and other essentials.
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