Since the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, virtual events have become the new norm. With stay-at-home orders and social distancing rules prompting event cancellations and travel bans worldwide, organizers, including race directors, have been shifting to virtual events.
“Marines know about accomplishing the mission in every clime and place and that’s the opportunity presented to our runners,” said Rick Nealis, director of the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) Organization. “Whether they’re running with the Marines in August or being their own race director, it’s inspiring to see their results. I am proud that we are able to bring the spirit of the United States Marine Corps right to their doorsteps.”
While it may not be the same as the in-person experience, running a virtual event gives runners the chance to achieve their fitness goals and still run anywhere in the world. It’s also the perfect opportunity for runners to be their own personal event organizers!
Check out the tips below to help you plan your next virtual running experience:
- Plan Your Route
Stick to well-traveled routes and ensure you’re familiar with the turns, hills and intersections. You’ll be running alone or in a small group so don’t put yourself in an unsafe situation.A virtual event means no waiting in line for a port-o-john, but that doesn’t mean nature won’t come calling. Ensure your route offers access to appropriate locations for a bathroom break.Treadmill Runners: Spice up your virtual run by varying your speed and adding inclines along the way.
- Share Your Plan
Give family and friends your estimated departure and return times, as well as your planned route. This is as much for your safety as it is for motivation. Your loved ones are more likely to surprise you with cheer signs along the way, a phone call during the run or a finish line party if they know your plan.
- Capture the Moment
Carrying your phone is important for your safety, but it also allows you to commemorate your accomplishment with photos and videos. Did you run past a famous local landmark? Did your family set up a water/cheer station or surprise you at your finish line? Share those memories and make sure you tag them with #RunWithTheMarines and #VirtuallyUnstoppable so we can share them with our incredible community of runners.Treadmill Runners: We want to see you, too. Keep your phone handy and snag a few selfies as you go.
- Have Fun with It
Running alone can be mentally tough. Lay out your flat runner the night before and have a carb-loading dinner with your family or do it virtually. Listening to music, audiobooks or podcasts at low volume on your run can keep your brain entertained without ruining your situational awareness. If you prefer to run in silence, try incorporating sprint intervals between blocks or electric poles to keep your mind busy. Also, don’t discount the importance of positive self-talk as the miles become difficult.Treadmill Runners: Research some binge-worthy shows and knock out a few episodes while you run.
- Hydrate and Fuel Along the Way
You’ll be responsible for your fluids and nourishment. Don’t skip them! Have a replenishment plan that’s supported by your route. Plan for stops that bring you by your car or home; recruit your family to hand out Gatorade and Honey Stinger; or simply carry what you need. Fight off that late race fizzle with fluid and fuel.Treadmill Runners: Pre-stage your fluids and food and have a plan to decrease your speed or incline, as necessary.
- Brighter is Better
Reflective gear and bright colors will ensure you’re visible to motorists since roads and major intersections won’t be closed during your race. Running apparel also has small pockets that are ideal for stashing your ID card, which you should have on you during your run. Weather can be unpredictable so double check the forecast before departing and be mindful when running during the heat of summer.Treadmill Runners: Although you’re less concerned about visibility, comfortable and familiar running gear that prevents chaffing will help you finish strong.
- Put Your Health and Safety First
Remember, we’re still in a global pandemic. Plan your virtual event according to your town or state’s guidelines. If you’re running in a group, practice social distancing and choose a less crowded route. Now is the time to be considerate, not just of other runners, but of medical workers currently working around the clock. So, if you’re not feeling well, do not go out and if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (even if it was only minor symptoms), it is imperative you are cleared by a cardiologist before attempting exercise. Click here for more tips on running safely during the pandemic.
Check out more virtual events here: 2021 MCM Virtual Events.