Goal Season: Run a Virtual Race

Earlier this month, we told you a little about how to get into a running routine. If you’ve been running, just started or want to start, one of the best ways to get or stay motivated is by signing up for a race. Of course this year things are a bit different, but that doesn’t mean you can’t register for something virtual to keep yourself motivated and get yourself moving.

According to Outside, virtual races can be unexpectedly rewarding and fun.

Know Your Why

As with traditional races, setting a personal goal is step one. “There are so many reasons to do a virtual race right now,” says Morgon Latimore, a North Carolina–based running coach. “Whether you’re doing it for health, to obtain a PR, or to relieve stress, you need to know what that is if you’re going to prepare for it properly.” There’s no right or wrong “why,” stresses Latimore, but you’ll get more out of the experience if you nail that down first.

Take It Seriously—But Have Fun

Whatever your goal might be, it’s helpful to go after it the same way you would if you were lining up with hundreds of others. That means having a training plan, mapping out a course, and planning your race-day shoes and kit. In addition to the planning and training, says Latimore, the way you talk about virtual racing is every bit as important. “Avoid using the word just—as in: It’s just a virtual race. Paint the picture around what you want from the day and then line up what you need to support that.”

While your goal might be personal, everything is more fun with friends—and tapping into your own community can really enhance the experience.

Use It As a Learning Opportunity

According to Latimore, there’s no better venue for working on your mindset than a virtual event. “Use this opportunity to educate yourself as an athlete and prepare for returning to live competition,” he says. “Rarely are you all by yourself in a race environment, so work on your strategies while you have the chance.”


A handful of cheering friends along your virtual route is just the start. If you’ve completed in-person races in the past, try to replicate the celebrations the best you can. If you’re running a sponsored virtual race, you can likely print a bib, make a finisher’s certificate, and maybe even earn a race shirt, just like normal. Snap a photo and post it to social, have a socially distanced beer and burger with a friend, or frame your bib. 

Whether it’s a 5K or a marathon (and whether you’re running or walking), Fall is the perfect time to jump into a race and accomplish something you can be proud of. So, there’s only one thing left to say: Ready, set, go!