Have you got into virtual racing lately? You’re not alone. With races being cancelled, many race participants have chosen to set goals or targets by signing up for a virtual challenge. Get an even bigger bang for your virtual racing buck by following these top tips by Sarah Sellens…
Find digital friends
Online peers have been proven to be a powerful motivator according to a 2015 study that appeared in Science News, so sign up for a virtual community such as Strava, Virtual Racing UK (virtualracinguk.co.uk), or MyFitnessPal, and find your digital fit crew. ‘Now more than ever we need to feel part of a community,’ says Sam Field, co-founder of Virtual Racing UK. ‘We have an active Facebook group and even produce full racing kit, so you can spot fellow members as you complete your challenge’.
Boost your signal
Digital data is fantastic but it’s not perfect and it can take time to lock onto GPS at the start of run or ride. Fortunately, there are things you can do to get good data. ‘Firstly, have a clear view, so you can see a large portion of the sky,’ advises Klima. ‘Any obstruction between the phone and the sky can have adverse effects on signal strength. Secondly, give it a few seconds before setting off. Keeping the device in one place will improve signal activation time.’ Simple but effective.
Dig the diversity
Virtual races come in all shapes and sizes, from solo distances to be done in your fastest time ever, to collective attempts to complete obscene mileage (Red Bull, for example, recently ran a Race The Moon challenge for which all participants aimed to clock 1.5 million miles over 28 days). ‘Join a range of challenges,’ suggests Field. ‘Smaller distances such as a 5K will give you the buzz of regular bling landing on your doorstep but adding races that genuinely push you will keep you goal-focused over a longer period.’
Repeat your route
Without head-to-head competition and involving a variety of routes, it’s clear that you can’t pitch yourself against virtual competitors in the same way as you can when racing in real life. You can, however, compete against yourself. Sign up for a series of events, such as several different 10ks or a monthly Strava Challenge and complete them on the same route each time. Your GPS data will be a great source of motivation when you see how well you’re progressing.
It’s important to take care of yourself and be cautious when racing alone. Here, March Holl, professional head of physiotherapy at Nuffield Health, reveals how to stay healthy.
Train wisely – too many people enter events without appropriate training plans. There are plenty of plans out there (Nuffield Health has a number of free programmes online), so follow one to get maximum performance and minimal injuries.
Stretch out – you can’t go wrong with a 10-minute warm-up to increase your heart rate, and a few dynamic stretches of your largest lower limb muscle groups, before proceeding with your virtual race.
Recover right – dynamically stretching your big muscle groups such as your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves can help relax tension and reduce injury risk.
Drink up – We are at greater risk of heatstroke when it’s warm. Keeping well hydrated and using UV sun protection are simple preventative solutions, but racers should consider other methods such as wearing a damp cap and choosing shady routes.
Treat yourself well – Injuries do happen, from minor niggles to tendinopathies. The RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) principle continues to be the most effective treatment.