The best way to create your first digital race

Of all the sacrifices we’ve made This no-racing pandemic feels pretty insignificant. However, if you’re like me and find that your fitness drops dramatically off the rails when river levels drop and there is no snow in the mountains, take a virtual challenge Running a marathon can be a great way to make sure your legs are ready for the ski season. I took one this summer and it not only kept me in shape but was doomed too. My advice? Wait for the personal races to resume to follow this PR. This year has been tough enough – slow down and have a good time with your event. Here are some general tips and equipment suggestions to help you get the most out of yours.

Choose the right destination

Pick something difficult, but manageable, with the potential to change the way you approach your runs. I chose the Leadville 100,000 FT Elevation Gain Challenge as a two-person team with my external editor Will Taylor. The goal was to walk 100,000 vertical feet in ten weeks, which meant we were both determined to climb 50,000 feet. Running five thousand vertical feet a week was challenging enough for us to get involved, but not so much that we were overwhelmed. And measuring runs by elevation gain instead of miles or speed changed the way we viewed our local trails.

I suggest doing a virtual team-based challenge as it makes the otherwise lonely task fun and collaborative. It also helps with motivation. My partner is a good friend of mine – but he’s also my boss. The mixture of camaraderie and fear of abandoning him kept me on course.

Chase it

(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

Monitoring your progress with a GPS device is crucial for virtual racing. While your smartphone and Strava will definitely do the trick, it’s very nice to have a reliable watch that can give you real-time updates as you run. Almost all of these clock types can be set up to automatically send to a site like Strava so you can track your progress. I’ve tested half a dozen GPS watches, and my current favorite is the Garmin Forerunner 745 ($ 500) because it’s easy to use and has a low-profile fit. It’s the smallest GPS watch I’ve tested that has all of the necessary metrics – including heart rate, route aid, and speed – with a modest bezel size that I wanted to wear all day. (Other watches were so big that I wore them during a run and took them off immediately afterwards because they were so clunky.) The Forerunner 745’s battery life is too short for my longest adventures, but for Most of the daily runs and anything under four hours, it was good for me.

Eat the good

To run(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

Due to my problematic stomach, I am extremely conservative with the calories I burn during a race for fear of public signs of stomach upset. By its nature, virtual races meant meeting very few people, which meant I could be a little more relaxed with my normally strict calorie schedule. I suggest you tend towards foods that feel more like a treat than a treat Performance enhancers because you don’t have to exert yourself as hard for a virtual goal, and you might as well be amusing. I fell in love with Honey Stinger Mini Waffles on my long runs this summer. In fact, they were so tasty that my family consumed them as dessert too. I would fall apart if they were all I wanted to eat while running a marathon, but they were a treat during my biggest climbs during my summer challenge. I even ate pizza during a few runs.

Go big on hydration

To run(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

I usually preach wisdom about how much water to carry when running: it can be annoying to run with more than you need to run. One virtual challenge, however, is the rare time I would suggest making it big – bring a hand bottle if you don’t normally bring anything and a vest if you’re planning on a handheld. The lack of support stations means accountability for personal hydration is vital. I fell in love with the Osprey Duro 1.5 ($ 90) after dragging it twice to the top of my local ski resort, Oregon’s Mount Ashland, to play catch-up during our challenge. The highly adjustable chest strap enabled me to dial in the fit up to a point where the vest went largely unnoticed, contained a lot of liquid and the storage pocket at the very back kept my cell phone away from my sweaty body.

Wear comfortable shoes

To run(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

For years I have been an advocate of maximally extra padded running shoes. There’s no better time to get yourself extra support than when you take on digital opponents during a pandemic. Save the PRs again for personal races and value comfort. Do not worry, nobody is looking. It’s pretty hard to beat Hoka in this arena. I still use and love the Challenger ATR5 ($ 130) as my favorite trail runner. I also put a few miles on the Speedgoat 4 ($ 145, pictured), and while I don’t have the same relationship with it as I did with the ATR5, I’m really happy with the balance between cushioning and trail performance of this shoe.

Buy ATR5 Buy Speedgoat4


bodyglide-anti-blister-cream_h.jpg(Photo: Courtesy Body Glide)

Don’t skimp on lubrication just because no one can see your bloody nipples at the nonexistent finish line. Be nice to yourself and really get ready for this long effort. In terms of price and effectiveness, Body Glide ($ 10) is my personal preference.

Wear the flair

To run(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

A highlight of my virtual challenge came when I ran into an older runner – he was participating in the Mount Ashland Hillclimb – who showed off all his racing flair, including an event shirt from last year and bouncing alien antennas. It was a “We’re in it together” part and a “Fuck you COVID, I’ll still have my fun race day.” It totally got me going. Since I don’t own antennas and am too pragmatic to wear costumes regularly, I rocked this Floral Duckbill Hat ($ 35) from Patagonia along with my new dad’s mustache. Reminding myself not to take myself or my endeavors too seriously.

Bring your mask

To run(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

It is easy to forget that we are in the middle of a global pandemic when chasing virtual dreams in uncrowded avenues, but don’t forget to bring a mask to make encounters with others safer. In accordance with my local regulations, I don’t wear one unless I cross paths with someone, but I always have them with me and am ready to go. My mask of choice is honestly whatever is clean when I walk out the door, but I really like the fit and packability of this one from Boco ($ 12).

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Main photo: Sarah Jackson

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