Due to the pandemic (or perhaps due to convenience), you may be considering the virtual option for the Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon or 5K (or another fall race with a virtual option). You may feel choosing the virtual race means you aren’t doing a “real” race. Here are some ways to make it more “real.”
Race time: Schedule your virtual race in advance for a specific day and time. If possible, choose the same day and time as the live version of your race (if there is one). Treat this day and time as you would an actual race start time and make sure you plan for and begin your race at that time. Put the race on your calendar and target your training and tapering toward that race start time. Tell your friends and family about your race start time. All of this will create some of the pressure, anticipation and excitement of an actual race.
Map a course: Figure out what race course you are going to run in advance. Make sure the distance is correct. You can do this by driving or running the course in advance with a GPS or smart watch. Try to choose a course that minimizes delays (traffic crossings, railroad tracks, etc.) On race day, try not to deviate from your “official” race course.
Start and finish lines: Mark your start and finish lines in some way on the morning of the race. Use flags, cones or some other temporary markers. Having these spots marked will make your race feel more official.
On your mark, get set, go! Make sure you have a real countdown to the race start. Having a friend or family member start and time you for your race will make it feel more official. Make sure you time yourself with your own watch as well.
Cheering squad: Try to get some friends and family to come to your race and cheer for you. That will add some interest and excitement and might even entice some of them to take up running in the future. If you already have running friends and family, see if some of them will join in and run the race with you.
Race kit: Wear your official race bib during your race. When you finish, put on your medal and shirt (if you bought one) , relax and celebrate.
Social media: Post photos (in your bib, medal and shirt) and your race results on social media. That will allow others to know about and congratulate you on your accomplishment.
Taking some or all of these steps will allow you to feel like you have really been racing when your virtual race day arrives.
Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness