Race week for any major 10k or marathon event is often dominated by discussions around the weather. Will the wind be against me most of the way? How hot will it be? What kit shall I wear? If you don’t believe me, just count how many times you start checking your favourite weather app in the days leading up to an event. You may even check other apps to be double sure!
The beauty of taking on a virtual challenge is that you get to choose your route and when you wish to run it.
Some athletes want world record conditions with 10-12 degrees, no wind at all and the perfect flat course with a smooth road surface. Others enjoy the challenge of tough conditions and the adventure of trail, off road or hilly routes. Everybody has a different best case scenario and motivation. Make sure you choose the best route and time to inspire your run.
I want to be fast
If this is you, well you had better start planning – checking routes, asking others and looking at that weather app in the final two weeks as you plan. Fast flat routes can be found, but need researching. You will need to be sure the road surface or pavements are good and it’s safe to run with minimal traffic and pedestrians not in the way. Timing may therefore become a factor along with the wind direction in the final week or two as you choose which direction you will be taking. We recommend either running in loops or a short ‘there and back’ distance.
You will also now become your own race director and will need to brief your support team on drink & feed stations and where’s best to safely support you! A gel every 5k or 30-45 minutes might be wise if you’ve practiced this so try to set up your aid stations and support to mirror this where possible.
I don’t want to get bored
If a speedy time isn’t your goal but completing the distance is, then a route with interest, nostalgia or markers to look forward to should be your goal. Have you got a favourite running route or places you can visit on your virtual journey? The pub might not be the best bet, but running to friends, family or somewhere that matters might just be the goal you need.
If you are running loops, make your life a little easier by finding a great spot for your support team to station themselves to hand out those all-important gels and fluids. This allows them to safely cheer you on whilst also remaining socially distant. Ideally, you want somewhere with plenty of wide pavement space and no traffic.
I want an adventure
Well nobody has said you have to complete the virtual distance on the road or set a fast time! Why not be a little crazy and do something different. The countryside is beautiful as we approach the autumn and trail running is a real adventure. Get the right trail shoes and choose safe routes under foot and then head out over the hills, onto the downs and out along those beautiful country paths. The miles will be slower but the times flies by as you enjoy all nature has to offer. Thorough planning is needed for your route, support and feed station help . If you’re planning to go solo, be sure to take everything with you in a small running backpack. However, do remember to tell people where you are going to be running and share your location on your phone for the duration of your run. Be sure to also recce your route options….the last thing you want is to be lost or running too far!
Why not run through the night with a head torch, go super early or even run in the evening when more people are about to support you… remember, this is your event and you get to choose your race rules.