I ran my first 10km when I was 13 and have been running on and off since then. My usual pattern is building up a solid base, hitting my target distance, and then fizzling out and taking an extended break.
I also prefer to run in the winter, maybe it is because there are less people out, maybe it is because it makes me feel like a badass? But I never talked about running much, if you didn’t see me out there then you probably had no idea.
Last year I started to join running groups on social media and follow runners who were inspiring and unapologetic. Through this I learned that virtual races are a thing, how perfect –I can sign up for a race and run it without anyone knowing, and then if I fail to hit the distance or run a turtle pace no one needs to know.
But something happened this year as I decided to pick up running again after yet another extended break. I signed up for another virtual race, but this time, I decided I needed to share about it. Be proud of what I was doing. With virtual races you are able to do some good. A portion of entry fees generally go to a charity and you get swag! (All runners love swag, right?).
Virtual races have encouraged me to get some skin in the game. Both monetary and personally. I am sharing and posting about my training, my goals, and proudly working towards them.
Being able to set a deadline helps me to sustain a running plan, or if I am being honest pushed me to create a running plan. I have pushed passed my initial goal length, the distance that in the past once hit I would fizzle out, and I‘m still going strong. This goal length has become my standard, minimum, run. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the option of running a virtual race. It isn’t about hiding my races anymore, but celebrating them where I am. They have given me a safe place to grow as a runner and to find my confidence. And within them I am able to push past boundaries I set for myself a long time ago.
When in-person racing is back on the books I will be starting to sign up for those. But even after that, I will always be signing up for virtual races. I will always be grateful for the sense of accomplishment and celebration after completing one and being able to hang that medal proudly in my home office. Seeing them reminds me how great it felt to push, to share, to take ownership of what I’m chasing. They’re a reminder of how far I have come.
Virtual races might be the only option right now, but they are a wonderful opportunity to safely push yourself. To put some skin in the game, and to blow past those finish lines.
Written by: Deanna Roney