I had been able to complete 5k (3.1 miles) runs for a few weeks albeit very slow but I wanted to increase distant and speed. The next milestone up from a 5k is 5 miles and I knew that I would have to tackle it at some point as it is on the way to the 10k (6.2 mile) mark and the goal I had set in October with the 10k race. 5 miles was a millstone around my neck and I had to face it.
One Sunday night I was on Twitter and was following #ukrunchat hour, this runs from 8pm until 9pm and discusses all things running. I was surprised to see that there were virtual races that run throughout the year and can be completed in your own time and your own pace. I checked out the races as it sounded like the kick up the bottom I needed.
It is a whole new world. I googled virtual running and there were so many to choose from. I went with one that instantly appealed to me as they had a 5 mile distance ready to go for August. The idea is that you complete the distance you have signed up for send off proof of the distance completed via Garmin, Strava, Map my Run etc and you receive a medal by return. Perfect for those who like race bling, those who need that encouragement to get out there or those who want to complete a race without the pressure of others watching (I fall into all 3 of these). The race can be completed at any pace, some people even walk them and at any time unless specified at the time of booking.
I signed up for the 5 mile race and had August to complete it in. I picked a date mapped a route and on the day I set off on the daunting journey. I had chosen the Friday after getting back from my holiday, my legs needed a workout and I knew I had to get back into the running saga before the weekend. My pace was slow but I made it round completing the 5.02 miles in 1 hour 20 minutes, a pace of 16:02. I was pleased that I faced this demon and that I was able to get around the course I designed without too much of an issue although I was tired, a friend drove past as I was on the final mile and offered me a lift, I was shattered and tempted but remembered the millstone!
Once recovered I sent off a screen shot of my Garmin to Virtual Running and within the week I had received my first 5 mile bling.
I felt pleased with myself and hung my medal up in the study. I love this idea, like I say if you need a kick up the bottom or want to complete a race without the embarrassment of being too old/slow/fat in your own time then virtual races are the way to go. It should also be noted that you are not totally on your own as there us a huge virtual running community out there and you can link up via Strava etc if you choose to do so and by doing this you can compare times/races/issues.
There are lots of virtual races out there, google it and you will be surprised but I would recommend the following for specific reasons:
Virtual Running because they have a fabulous community via Strava and a great support programme for those learning to run or looking to do their first 5k.
Hogwarts Running Club being a huge Harry Potter fan I could not pass this by without mentioning it. They also via the races raise funds for books for underprivileged or underserved readers.
Virtual Runner I like this site as it was set up by someone who wanted to race and couldn’t find one. Again raises money for good causes.
Pow I like this as they have a 5k race in September for Mind, a charity very close to my heart.
I would also recommend following #ukrunchat on twitter, lots of fantastic ideas, feedback and information.