Michael Capiraso on the Advantages of Virtual Races During COVID
Top 7 Advantages of Virtual Races During a Pandemic
Michael Capiraso, the former CEO of New York Road Runners (NYYR), recommends virtual races as an alternative to real-world runs. Virtual events have provided people worldwide with a way to connect, even during a pandemic.
While many runners struggled to cope with forced isolation because of lockdowns and social-distancing rules, there is good news. Event planners have become creative with organizing online activities, as a result of canceled events in 2020.
For example, organizers of the Boston Marathon canceled the event in the spring of 2020 due to COVID-19. It led runners, many of whom spent months in training, to wonder if there was an alternative. The cancellation of a much-awaited event paved the way for a virtual Boston Marathon in September of the same year.
The event still featured a finish-line break tape, which runners downloaded for a photo-op finish. Here are seven reasons why runners can still benefit from virtual races.
1. A Virtual Run Is Essentially the Same as In-Person Races
Virtual runs afford the same experience as in-person races, except of course for real-world encounters with other participants.
You can complete a virtual race on the road or designated trails. Almost all race events launched virtual races during 2020, including 5K runs. Participants even received medals and t-shirts, which were shipped directly to their homes.
2. Signing Up for Virtual Races Is Easy
You only need to find your preferred virtual event through a quick online search. Some events announce the details on runners’ forums. You can also choose to participate in virtual races for a charitable cause. Once you sign up, you only need to download the race’s particulars, finish the event, and submit the results.
3. Virtual Races Are Safe
Runners don’t have to worry about breaking COVID-19 health and safety protocols when they participate in virtual races. For this reason, you don’t have to compromise your exercise routine when you follow government mandates.
4. You Can Easily Follow Social Distancing
Virtual races also provide you with peace of mind that you don’t need to expose yourself to a crowd of runners. You can choose a trail with low pedestrian traffic to complete a virtual event. Be mindful of your distance from others while on a run.
Health experts advise that you should stay at least six feet away from others when outdoors. If you’re running, then you should consider doubling the recommended distance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that a 12-foot distance is more effective for runners.
Don’t forget to bring a mask with you just in case you turn up on a route with a lot of people. There’s been a lot of contentious talk about wearing masks while exercising, but research showed no adverse health risks.
A neck gaiter is a good alternative to masks, as you can pull it up to your face when necessary. It’s also for safe measure if you can’t follow the recommended distance of 12 feet.
5. Virtual Races Give You a Breather
As the pandemic disrupted many runners’ routines, the prospect of a virtual race helps with taking it easy. When was the last time you participated in a race just for fun? Virtual events have put things in perspective when it comes to health and safety.
By taking it easy, you can rediscover why you chose running as a form of exercise. It also prevents you from sustaining injuries, such as when you push too hard or attempt to complete a record time.
6. You Can Focus on Minutes Instead of Miles
Capiraso believes that virtual races take off our minds from focusing too much on mileage. Runners should instead pay attention to the number of completed minutes. This allows you to set a comfortable pace, avoid injuries, and follow social-distancing guidelines.
You can also try other forms of exercise to complement virtual races. These activities include lifting weights, stretching, and yoga to adopt a less competitive approach to running.
7. Virtual Races Still Keep You Connected
Indeed, a virtual race doesn’t replace the live experience of interacting with others. Some apps, though, still allow you to stay connected with your running buddies. For example, Strava is a digital running platform that serves this purpose.
JoggingBuddy also lets you stay in touch with your friends, and you can even make new ones. The app connects you with runners within your area based on mutual interests. Online running groups are also a good way to remain updated with what’s happening in the community.
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