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How to Complete a Successful Virtual Race

Monday, August 31, 2020 2:37 PM

Completing a half marathon, a full marathon, or a shorter race during the era of COVID-19 looks a lot different than it did before the pandemic. Lots of runners are opting for virtual races now in light of the times. The differences are there are no large crowds to cheer you on, and you’re doing the race alone or with fewer people. This isn’t the norm – and it’s a topic that’s worth discussion. How do you get through a virtual race successfully?

Virtual Race


Here are some tips offered by Carrie Jaworski, MD, Sports Medicine, on how to prepare/perform your best:

Don’t Forget to Warm-up:
Allow yourself ample time to complete a full warm-up just as you would do on a typical race morning – this can include slow jogging, stretching and drills. Spend the same amount of time warming up as you would for an actual race.

Racing Checklist:
Before you head out, make sure you’re well equipped! Do you have what you need to participate safely? Wear appropriate clothes for the weather and don’t forget sunscreen/sun protection. Just like for an actual race, practice with your equipment before the day of the event so you know that there won’t be any glitches with your choices.

Support System:
Let your friends and family know about your race and have them come out to cheer you on! Designate a “running buddy” through the process. They can run with you for parts of the event, or they can simply support you on the side. This is someone who checks in with you throughout your race, keeping you motivated and accountable.

Stay Focused:
Running alone is different than running with a group of people. Be prepared that running a virtual race can be a lot more mentally challenging than a regular road race. Learn techniques to mentally push yourself and stay focused along your route. Try using visualization and positive self-talk, or just have an amazing playlist to keep you going!

Run in a Loop:
This is optional but it will make it easier for spectators and fans to find you if they can’t be there for your entire race. Choose an easy and safe loop.

Create a Break Station:
Regular races offer break stations with water and snacks. However, since you’ll be on your own, it’s helpful to have one or two of these set up before your run. If you follow our previous tip of running in a loop, you’ll be able to simply grab whatever you need in the same spot, when you need it. Get a cooler and pack ice cold water, Gatorade, energy gels and cold towels (if it’s a hot day). A dry towel comes in handy too for wiping off the sweat!

Create a Finish Line:
Break out the red tape! Grab some toilet paper or a streamer, stake down two poles and tie your ribbon to both poles (make sure the fabric is breakable!). Your support system/cheer squad can also meet you at the finish and hold up the banner for you, too. Don’t forget to take a picture to remember your experience.