One of the benefits of signing up for a virtual race? You can plan your own route!

7 Tips for Making the Most of Your Virtual Race

There’s no question that it’s a disappointment when a favorite race goes virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But nine months into the global health crisis, race organizers have learned a lot about how to make virtual races engaging, and runners are discovering that it can be fun to share a training and race experience with a wider digital running community.

That’s the case with the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon, 10K and 5K, which will be held virtually in January and February 2021 and which has added a host of fun features to make training and running the highlight of your winter.

Here’s how to make the most of training for a virtual race!

1. Choose Routes You Enjoy

Running a solo virtual means you can do anything you want to get in those miles, so plot out routes that give you pleasure, whether it’s because of beautiful scenery, challenging features, or simple familiarity. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, join the 150-mile Around the Bay Virtual Training Challenge, then use the route mapper to plan routes that will have you completing a full circle around San Francisco Bay.

2. Make Apps Your Running Mates

Setting up a running app is more important than ever now that you’re racing virtually and need to log your miles and upload your data. Apps like Strava, Map My Run, RunKeeper, and Runtastic can track your miles, map routes, and help you with many other aspects of running as well. Strava is popular for its ease of use and ability to compare times with other runners in the Strava community. Map My Run will even let you know when you’re due to buy a new pair of running shoes!

3. Enjoy Your new Flexibility

With virtual races and training sessions, there’s no need to run in the rain, sweat through a heat wave, or slog through snow. If the weather outside is frightful, feel free to push your run for a few hours or even to the next day. Or run on a treadmill if you have one available.

4. Take Control of Timing

Without access to a timing chip, it may feel like no one is going to know how fast you ran, but that’s not the case. Virtual races have a system for this; you use wearable tech like a smart watch or GPS tracker or a smart phone app to record your time, then upload it through the race’s registration app once you’ve signed up.

5. Run to Raise Money

Now more than ever, community organizations and charities depend on fundraising to provide their much-needed services. When choosing your races, look for those that raise money for local or national organizations and turn your race into a chance to do good. Proceeds from the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon, 10K and 5K go to benefit local organizations serving children and families. If you’re training for a race that does not have a fundraising component, you can do it yourself using the app CharityMiles, which lets you set up a regular donation for every mile you run.

6. Be a First-Timer!

With no one watching and the chance to do everything at your own pace, virtual races are the perfect chance for new runners to participate in a running event without pressure.

7. Share Your Training and Race Experiences on Social Media

Most races have social media tools so runners can keep in touch with other participants and share their experiences. Check if your race has hashtags and an Instagram or Facebook page that you can use to follow others training for the same event. To join the fun running the Kaiser Permanente Around the Bay Challenge, use the hashtag #aroundthebaychallenge on Instagram.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.