Friday, August 14, 2015

Virtual Races - What's The Deal?

July 27, 2015 ~ So many of you have asked me about these "Virtual 5k's" that I have been doing lately. I am going to do my best to explain things in my own words and I do realize they can vary for others so here we go! Oh and I will post several sites that I have used for the virtual races at the bottom so keep reading! (Thank you Jacki Swank for introducing me to this new addiction of virtual races, great charities and awesome hardware!)

What is a "Virtual" 5k/10k/13.1/26.2 Race?
 A virtual race is something that you sign up to do at your own pace, place and race! We are all busy people and sometimes participating in a "live" race isn't an option because of prior commitments. You do it virtually anywhere you want! 

Does it cost money to do a "Virtual" 5k/10k/13.1/26.2 Race?
I am going to say yes. I have not found any free virtual races that provide race bibs, t-shirts, finisher medal and/or swag bags. While I am not saying they aren't out there, those items cost money and most places can't just give them away. Plus you have the cost of mailing these items. Typically the cost is somewhere between $25-$30 on average.
 (Of course some cost more depending on what you get and what you sign up for)
Why a "Virtual" 5k/10k/13.1/26.2 Race?
Frankly, virtual races are fun! You can choose to do them during the week, at night with friends or anytime while on vacation. It gives you the flexibility to be active and earn a really cool finisher medal while supporting a great cause!

Does "Virtual" 5k/10k/13.1/26.2 Races benefit causes/organizations?
Yes! Almost every single race I have found and/or participated in they donate a portion of the registration to great causes either within a community or a national organization. I feel good when signing up and paying registration fees that I am also helping a deserving school, cause or organization! (Many of the companies that I sign up to complete their races will tell everyone either on their website or Facebook page how much money was donated from that race)

Why are "Virtual" 5k/10k/13.1/26.2 Races becoming so popular?
Before answering this question I would like to first give a huge applause to anyone who runs. I am not a runner and in fact I hate running however I have always looked at those who are active daily and want to get healthier in a way that works for me. For me, going to the gym isn't an option and when I get off work the last thing I want to do is to go to town to work out.  In April 2013 I participated in my very first ever 5k and while I started out walking I tried to push myself to do my best. After that race I decided I would do 13 5k's in 2013 in an effort to be serious about a healthier lifestyle. I did one 5k in 2014 thinking they weren't really for me as I didn't enjoy them.  Now that it's 2015 I made a pledge to do 15 5k's in 2015. I wanted to complete 5 5k's in Columbia, 5 5k's outside of Columbia and 5 5k's out of state. On this journey I saw that most races outside of Columbia and Missouri offered finisher medals and I found that was the motivation I needed! While I realize that finisher medals for something simple as a 5k is kind of silly when comparing them to half and full marathon runners (I mean seriously... those girls and guys deserve those medals and so much more. Their strength and endurance is truly amazing and certainly doesn't go un-noticed) but those medals also gave me the drive I needed to get off the couch and get my butt in gear. 

I believe the virtual races are becoming so much more popular because anyone can do them and at a pace that is comfortable to them without (sometimes) the embarrassment of walking, jogging or running with a large crowd at live races.  Frankly, I believe this might even be part of the reason many people (myself included at times) hate the thought of putting on shorts and/or work out clothes and sweating horribly just to walk even a mile. I give a huge shout out to anyone that gets out of your comfort zone and sets a goal of 1 mile, 3.1 miles, 6.2 miles, 13.1 miles or even 26.2 miles no matter if you walk, jog or run any part of it. It just means that you fought the urge to sit on the couch and made a healthy decision about becoming a better healthier person for you! 

If you choose to get out of your comfort zone to get healthier (no matter if it's changing your eating habits or exercise habits) don't you dare compare yourself to others! We are all different and comprised of many different things that will never make us like another person... embrace yourself!

It doesn't matter if it take you 2 hours to walk one mile the fact is that you did it!
Remember we all have to start somewhere!

No matter what your goal is just do your best to stick to it.

In 2015 (so far) I have completed 12 "live" 5k's and 6 "virtual" 5k's. I will exceed my original plan of 15 5k's in 2015 but you know what.... I am actually enjoying them. I have managed to motivate others which in turn motivates me even more! My times aren't fast and although I try to set a goal of a certain time frame I constantly look at one of my favorite quotes....

I loved this quote enough to have it put on a custom bib and finisher medal holder! 
This also gives me the motivation I need each day! 

Ok so now you are interested in what sites I use for the Virtual Races......

Full Medal Runs

Jost Running

Virtual Strides

 Races For Awareness

Miles For Medals

Moon Joggers

I Love Race Medals

 These are several of my favorites! There are several more sites with virtual races so you might just do a quick search and see what you can come up with !

Good luck on finding your motivation whatever it might be. Remember it doesn't have to cost money... just get out there and make a positive difference and you'll see positive results!

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