My Next Race is Virtual…. Now What?” How to Have a successful Virtual Race Day!
If you had to describe 2020 in one word, what would it be? For us, one word that comes to mind is the word “Virtual”. While we navigate these challenging times, virtual resources are becoming a new normal, and that includes virtual racing. While a virtual race may not be exactly what you had in mind for your next big PR, it still counts and you can still see success even though your course may look a little bit different than planned. Below are some of our best race day tips, whether it be for a live race or virtual event, and we hope you will use some of these as you complete your Virtual Hot Trot event next weekend! Remember, no matter what type of race, having a plan and strategy in place ahead of time will help you go in prepared, stress free, and ready to run your best race yet!
- Never do anything new on race day: You’ve put in the miles, tested your nutrition, and have mastered your hydration strategy, now it’s time to put it into action and trust your training. If you have always had a pre-race coffee and bagel in your training, don’t wait until race day to switch to toast and peanut butter. If you carried a water bottle during your training runs, carry a water bottle on race day. Stick with what you know because you know how your body will react to it. If you want to try something new, wait until your next training cycle to test it out!
- Pay attention to the weather, but don’t let it distract you from your plan: As runners we tend to want to control everything about a race. The weather is one thing you can’t control, but you can control how you react to it. Have a plan in place for what you will wear if it is raining, if it is warmer than expected, or if it is cooler than planned. This plan should include training in all of the elements (I.e. completing a workout even if it is raining) and should also factor in hydration strategies, “throw away clothes” (layers you don’t mind ditching while on the run if you get too warm), and your protective gear (reflective clothing, hats, sunglasses, etc.). All that being said, don’t let the weather make you doubt or question your plan – stick to it! You can have a good race even if the weather is not completely in your favor.
- Make a checklist, and set everything you need out the night before: Have all of your clothing, gear, headphones, on the run nutrition, GPS watch, safety pins, race bibs, etc. ready to go the night before the race. This also includes having a plan for parking, directions, and what time you will need to leave if it is a live race. If you’re completing a virtual race, be sure that you have your course mapped out along with where you will leave water along the way. PRO TIP: encourage your family to cheer you on at various points throughout the course and hand you water as you go! Either way, the less you have to do in the morning, the better you will feel before you toe the starting line.
- Make your race day playlist and think of your mantra: If you like running to music, plan your playlist a few days before and be sure to include any songs that will get you excited! Try making the playlist the same length of your race time goal and know which songs are around the halfway point and towards the end, that way you can stay on track! Hint, save your best songs for the end when you know you will need a second wind!
If you like repeating mantras, write out a few that you can use during your race the next day. Your mantra should only include positive words – don’t use anything negative otherwise your brain will latch onto the negative word automatically! For example, a great mantra is “Keep going!” rather than “Don’t stop!”
- Have a goal and understand what it takes to achieve that goal: Whether your goal is to finish or to hit a new PR, trust the training you’ve put in and stick to your pacing. Consider wearing a GPS watch to help you stay on track or wearing a pace chart bracelet. Be sure to start steady and build on your pacing throughout the race. Adrenaline makes it easy to start too fast, but knowing your starting pace will help you stay accountable which will save you energy in the long run.
All in all, don’t let a virtual race discourage you from completing your goals. Plan to compete anyways! Connect with your running partner ahead of time to set a goal, and plan to check in after you complete your race for extra accountability. Schedule your wake-up call, route, and time of day you will start, just like you would for an in-person event. Always remember that while you may be running solo, you are not alone. You have an entire running community out there supporting you and running with you! Finally, consider this: if you race on your own now, you will be more mentally tough at your next live race which may lead to more PR’s in the long run….. so let’s do this!