While many things are the same whether you are running in a live race or a virtual race, there are many things that are not the same. Take the basic logistical benefits for example - like no queue for the porta-loo (or even having to use a porta-loo at all!) and no early morning traffic jams or parking and rushing to the start at a venue.
The differences in training, however, are a little more subtle and possibly require more attention than you think or are used to when you are training with your club, doing regular club runs and long training runs over the weekend.
Tip 1: Get a Running Coach
Without the motivation, encouragement and even slagging-off that comes with training with your usual buddies and running club, there can be a tendency to let your training rigidity slide. Especially now that it is winter in South Africa, getting out of the bed when the mornings are cold is harder when you aren’t being held accountable by your buddies.
A running coach will give you a training plan that starts where you are at, fits into your current schedule and will guide you to stay on track with your physical conditioning. A good running coach (depending on your agreement) will also give constructive feedback, make the appropriate adjustments to your plan and help you stay excited and motivated to reach your virtual race goal.
Tip 2: Get a Virtual Training Buddy
Running partners offer accountability as well as support and encouragement. Connect virtually with other runners training for the same event as you to share notes and experiences. It can be fun (and even ignite a bit of healthy competition) to get on a voice call occasionally too to simulate the experience of running in person with your buddy.
Tip 3: Vary your Training Route
Races, club time trials and weekend long runs get you running in new neighbourhoods. Now, under lockdown conditions you might be running the same local roads everyday. To avoid burnout and boredom, make an effort to drive to a new venue for your long runs on the weekend. Try a trail run or a run on a track!
Tip 4: Plan your Race Route
One of the benefits of a virtual race is that you get to plan your own route! It can be as flat or as hilly as you want it to be. You can run sections of the route during your training which could give you a psychological advantage on race day
Start driving or biking potential routes looking for toilet stops in case you’re attempting a longer race, refreshment points and possibly supporter areas. Also, take into account that there will be no road closures for your race day so make sure that your race route has as few traffic interruptions as possible. For this reason, many long distance virtual race routes are generally safer planned as loops in quiet suburbs.
Tip 5: Work on your Mental Conditioning
Mental conditioning is vital for virtual racing. Since there are no racing dynamics with fellow competitors, it helps to have a very specific face goal in mind, both for your training and on race day. There are also no cheering crowds to urge you on when you hit the wall so begin to come up with a mantra or two that’ll help you through the rough patches.
And of course, it should go without saying follow the social distancing rules and take regular safety precautions on the road.
For more information about The Threshold’s Coaching packages, visit www.thethreshold.coach or email us with your requirements - email@example.com and one of our coaches will get in touch!