How To Enter Virtual Running Challenges

We’re in unprecedented times right now where races and events are being cancelled or postponed, left, right and centre. And rightly so with the increased risk that gathering in crowds creates.

Currently though, in the UK, we’ve not (yet) been confined to being indoors and we all know the benefits of being active outdoors goes far beyond physical ones. At a time like this, we could probably all do with looking after our mental health.

As a cyclist, it was a stroke of luck that I upgraded my indoor trainer just before this whole thing blew up so I’ve been busy getting to grips with riding in the virtual world of Watopia on Zwift. If you’re a runner though, you can still get outdoors and essentially race, through virtual events.

What Is Virtual Running?

A virtual run, or race, is an event that can be run (or walked) from any location you choose, kinda like all the Strava challenges we sign up for each month.

You get to run wherever you want, with whoever you want, at whatever time you desire and time it yourself using a fitness tracker.

How Does Virtual Running Work

  • Choose your event and/or medal
  • Register and pay the registration fee
  • Run the required distance, ANYWHERE
  • Upload your evidence via the supplied link
  • Your medal arrives in the post!

parkrun Freedom

parkrun Freedom is basically the virtual version of parkrun. It gives you the ability to record your time if you run a parkrun course at a different time to the normal 5km parkrun. This means you can avoid the regular Saturday morning gatherings and log your Freedom runs on your profile. Freedom runs however do not count towards your run total or any of the parkrun clubs.

becoming a better runner - running in roding valley recreation ground

Virtual Racing UK

I first came across Virtual Racing UK back in September 2019 when I needed all the motivation I could get to start running again. They offer a range of monthly and annual fitness challenges, with distances from 5k up to 2000 miles across the year which gets you a choice of amazing medals plus raises money for charity.

Indoor Virtual Running on Zwift

This free app is brought to you by the creators of the popular indoor cycling app. Much like the cycling version, the bonus is you get to run with a community, but virtually which mitigates all risk of spreading any viruses.

You’re running on the same fantasy island of Watopia, exploring routes inspired by Central London and Richmond, Virginia. If you’re using a treadmill last home, I’d suggest you have a speaker / google mini ready to pump out some music at the same time.

What You Need To Start Running

Obviously you will need a treadmill, but other than that you just need a footpod, connected shoe, or treadmill sensor and a device to run the app on (phone or iPad works well). According to Zwift, the Zwift RunPod is one of the easiest ways to get up and running on Zwift. 

Run Things Virtual Run Club

Brought to you by the guys behind Run Up To Christmas, the Run Things Run Club is a virtual run club for all levels. They’re just like a regular run club – you get to race in club colours, be a part of the community as well as getting access to the wisdom and knowledge of great professionals – all without a location!

Membership costs £25 …for life.

So, this is by no means an exhaustive list of ways to run virtually but it includes tried and trusted brands that I can advocate. If you know of any others that you’d recommend please leave details in the comments and I will update the post with a list…

Till then, stay safe and stay well…

See you on the virtual start line…



1 Comment

  1. March 20, 2020 / 22:02

    I didn’t even know virtual running was a thing, so you have opened my eyes! With the closure of gyms and leisure centres across the UK today, I am hoping that as the weather gets better I may be able to take up my running more again. And you’ve definitely given me some different options to try. Stay safe and well too. 🙂

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