Dr. Meghan Bishop is a Sports Medicine Surgeon at Rothman Orthopaedics New York and recent competitor in the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials, who finished 50th out of 350 runners.
With most upcoming large sized races cancelled, it’s a good time to try to some new things in your training. Whether this be incorporating more strength training, faster interval training, higher weekly mileage, or some down time to refresh your legs, there are many ways to approach this lull in organized races. If you feel compelled to test your fitness, selecting a virtual race is a great option.
1.) Choose your race.
There are a number of virtual race options out there that stem from cancelled in person races or newly developed races and race series. Start with picking a distance that you want to master. A shorter race such as a 5k is an easy way to start but there are virtual races that exist for almost any distance out there. If you are looking for more of a race series check out the Trials of Miles elimination style cross country racing tournament sponsored by Tracksmith (https://trialsofmilesracing.com/cross-country).
2.) Set a goal.
Approach the virtual race like you would any other race. If you are making this your goal race for the season, adjust your training so that you are properly rested going into the race. Think about proper pacing for your time goals, as you will not have a group of other runners to pull you along to the finish.
3.) Map out your racecourse ahead of time.
One of the benefits of virtual racing is that you can run your race anywhere! Most people will select either a route they are familiar with or a route that they know they can run a fast time on. The most straightforward way to measure your distance is to run your race on a track. However, this can be monotonous for longer distances. If you are planning to run a longer distance race, such as a half marathon or marathon, mapping out your course prior to the race is essential. Mapmyrun.com is an easy way to do this. Select a course that has loops so that you can set up appropriate fueling stations like they would have in a regular race. An out and back loop can be another way to achieve this. Virtual races that have official results often require you to upload your result through an app like Garmin or Strava. Make sure you have this on either your phone or GPS watch prior the race.
4.) Treat race day like a regular race.
Approach the race like you would any other race. Wear your normal race singlet and shoes. Go through your normal prerace running, stretching and dietary routine. Have family and friends come out for support. This will make the race feel more official and mentally get you in race day mode.
5.) Post-race care.
Congrats! You have completed your race and hopefully, have a new PR to show for it. Afterwards, make sure to properly hydrate and fuel. Take some recovery time prior to your next hard effort. The most common post-race injuries we see are acute muscle strains, blisters, or shin splints. If any of these do not resolve with self-care treatments, evaluation by a sports medicine specialist at Rothman Orthopaedics may be appropriate prior to return to running.
Good luck and happy racing!
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bishop, please visit RothmanNY.com or call 888-636-7840.