Fall racing season is here, and the races we decided to stay committed to run virtual are fast approaching. We have done the training, put in the work, and we are ready to race! When we show up on race morning, it will look and feel different. And yet, we have a chance to race and compete in a new way. We have a chance to show up for ourselves and for our love of the sport of running. We have a chance to run hard for a personal record, reminding us that we are strong whether we are on the course alone or surrounded by hundreds or thousands of others. We have a chance to have fun, truly celebrate our commitment and our appreciation for our own bodies’ strength and health. We have a chance to remind ourselves that during a great struggle, we can also find great strength.
Earlier this year, I ran a 5k and 10k PR and was a few seconds off from my half marathon PR, and each one of these races was virtual. I was by myself, competing against myself. As we approach our race day, I wanted to share some thoughts and tips that have helped me through this world of virtual racing!
As you enter race week, let all the work you have done this training cycle settle into your body and mind. Think back to any prior races: as race day approaches, so many different experiences and moments help get your mind and body ready for the race. You are hydrating; you are sticking to foods your body knows, you are doing your best to get good sleep, you are doing all the stretching and foam rolling, and (if you are like me) you are telling anyone who will listen that you are running a race this weekend! These routines, moments, and conversations are energizing and exciting! All these small moments and feelings you create leading up to a big race after a long and hard training cycle are so rewarding. Recognize your hard work, discipline, and commitment. Let these moments happen during race week.
Now it is time to think about your race plan. You have taken the time to feel the excitement of race week and had conversations with family and friends about your upcoming race and what it means to you. Maybe you have even made plans for them to be your aid stations and your cheer squad. Virtual racing allows for some new logistics while getting rid of some others. You may not have to worry about traffic and parking, but you will have to map out your route and be prepared with all your own nutrition and fuel. Take the time to think through all the things you will want for your race day. Just as you would get all the things prepared for an in-person race, do the same for your virtual race! There are also a few new things to think about: Be sure to download the IMT DMM App and the MOTIGO App for a personalized race experience. These fun new features will allow for a virtual race experience, unlike any race you have done previously. We want to show up on race day, knowing we are logistically prepared. Do the same for your virtual race!
You have made all the plans and have done all the training. The last piece to the puzzle for a memorable virtual race experience is all mental. Virtual racing allows for a new opportunity to remind yourself why you lace up the running shoes, put in all the miles, and head to the start line on race day. Just as you would make a mental race plan for any other race, do the same for your virtual race. Think about the course, miles where you hope to feel strong and at ease, and about the miles where you may begin to struggle and need to tap into some mental cues. Think about cues to remind yourself of your running form and develop your own mantras that work for you throughout different course parts. Visualize yourself feeling comfortable and strong and the tough miles and how you choose to respond with grit and perseverance. Taking the time to think about your mental race plan, with specific needs for virtual racing, will allow your body and mind to relax into the experience, for you have prepared your brain for this unique experience.
Virtual race day is another chance to celebrate our strength and our health. Acknowledge the goals you set out for this training cycle and hold them up high. Know they are within your reach, and the process of discovering what you are capable of is the most exciting part of the whole journey. It is great to have others believe in us and see our potential; however, we must be willing to do this for ourselves. We must be our biggest cheerleaders, and we must, without a doubt, believe in our ability to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves and fall in love with the process of seeing what we are made of.
So, enjoy the race week, make your plan for race day, believe in yourself and all you are capable of. Remind yourself of your why, strength, resilience, health, and ability to run. Run with gratitude and run to have fun. We will all be together again in person at a start line. Until then, enjoy your virtual race experience and soak it all up. Happy Running and Happy Racing.
- By Kate Busch