“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift” – Steve Prefontaine
In December of 2010 I was about 40lbs overweight, unhealthy, and had just lived through one of the most traumatic incidents of my life. I was working too many hours, eating too much junk, and getting too little sleep. I decided in January of 2011 that I was going to make some changes and that is truly when my fitness journey began.
The first thing I did was start to run. I remember my first attempt at running a mile. I had to stop and walk. I believe it took me around 15 minutes. I was embarrassed at that time. I signed up for a running app, I think it was Map my Run at the time, and I refused to friend anyone on the app because I didn’t want anyone to see my times. I set a goal for myself that I wanted to run a particular 5K in town that was 3 months away. I ran 5 days a week, setting time goals rather than distance. I started with jogging for 10 minutes with no walking. I started to increase that and a couple weeks in I was up to 20 minutes jogging and my mile time dropped to around 12 minutes.
I had never run a 5k before and I didn’t tell anyone that I was running one as I didn’t want my friends and family to come and be disappointed that I didn’t run the whole thing or that my time was so slow. March came and for whatever reason I had placed so much pressure on running a race as part of a large group I chickened out and didn’t sign up. I kept having images of some dude in hot dog suit passing me while running backwards and while I was struggling to put one foot in front of another. I eventually got over this feeling and I ran a 5k a month later. And I got passed by a 12 year old girl. Surprisingly, I laughed about it and it didn’t make me feel bad at all. My goal was to run the entire thing with no walking and I did it. I have since run several 5k and 10k races, although my fitness focus over the years switched from running to lifting weights and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
So fast forward to the point of all of this. Recently, I discovered there was a thing called virtual 5k. Essentially it is a 5k that you sign up for wherever you are, some of them have dates, some of them have date ranges. You sign up online, they send you a bib and you run 5kilometers on your own, in a group, on a treadmill, however you want to run one. After submitting your time, they send you a medal. Many races send a medal along with your bib to cut down on shipping. I recently entered a virtual 5k called Resistance is Futile. Honestly I saw the medal and being a huge Star Trek nerd I immediately knew I wanted to earn it.
What appealed to me is the fact that my work schedule has me working more weekends than I have off and the vast majority of races are all run on weekends which means I am unable to participate.
As I ran my 5k today I started thinking about myself 7 years ago and the anxiety I had running a simple 5k. The virtual 5k is a great way to run your first 5k, test yourself, and receive a medal you earn. This eliminates the anxiety of group starts, comparing times, and the other hassles that come with large public races (parking, bathrooms, wait times, etc..)
I still think participating in public races is a great thing, however the virtual 5k is a great option for many of us. All of the 5k races that I searched for had the added benefits of being cheaper than most public races and all of them benefited a charity of some sort. The race I ran benefited Operation Underground Railroad which is a charity that assists children of human trafficking.
If you are interested in running this same race the link is here. Hurry up thought because space is limited.
If you want to browse some other virtual races I highly suggest checking out Moon Joggers. I placed a link to their 2018 races here.