Last October, I completed my first “virtual” race: the Ghost Race. Unlike other races, you paid $0, got to pick the day & time of the race, and you received a $25 Lululemon gift card instead of a medal. Pretty sweet!
I didn't set out to do this race. I stumbled across this symbol on one of my runs.
Soon after, I saw this post on Strava. I convinced a friend to sign up and we set the date. We registered, like a normal race, but made sure to review the route beforehand. After a few false starts (my friend had never used Strava before :), we were off!
My friend worked hard and ended up getting a PR. So proud of her. After we finished, a woman came up to us. It turns out she ran the Ghost Race with us and said that we pushed her. So cool!
If you want to try a virtual race, the New York Road Runners is hosting three virtual races at the beginning of this year. Two of the three are free. Unlike the Ghost Run, you set the course. I already completed the Resolution Run 5k (ironically, I ran a non-virtual race with a similar name on January 1st). I plan to run it again with a friend this weekend.
Lululemon does not have another virtual race scheduled, but it's currently hosting the 40 | 80 Challenge. You can still join, but keep in mind that it only includes mileage from January 2-15. I signed up and encourage you to do the same.
I lived in Boston for a handful of years and ran through the “polar vortex” when I lived in New York City, so I’m not stranger to running in the cold. Last year, I decided to run a 10 miler and half marathon in January. The 10 miler was one of the most brutality cold and technically challenging races I’ve run.
Here’s how I prepare for races or runs in the cold, including the wind, ice and snow.
Clothing: It’s all about the layers. I start with “cold gear” leggings and long sleeve shirt, and my wind proof running coat. A good jacket is expensive but I bought mine for 50% off during a sale in Jan/Feb. Look for some that’s wind proof, and avoid anything that’s water proof - those can get really stuffy because they trap in moisture. I nearly always wear wool hiking socks and loosen my shoes a bit. They really help if it’s cold or wet. I top off my outfit with a neck gaiter, hat, and gloves. If it’s below ~25 degrees, I consider wearing heavier gloves like these. If it’s so cold that this outfit won’t cut it, I don’t run but the trick is to keep adding layers (or take your training indoors).
Motivation: It is tough getting out for a run in the dark, cold, wind, etc. I find that the best motivation is a running buddy. They get my butt out the door and help me last a LOT longer than I would alone. In NYC, my co-worker and I would meet at our work gym and run in Central Park. For long runs, I always join a local group (like this one).
Indoor Workouts: I’ve gotten sick after having run in really bad weather, so I try to mix up my outdoor runs and races with indoor training. I have mixed feelings on the treadmill, but I believe it’s a necessary evil. To make it a little less mind numbing, I’ll listen to a podcast or the new Nike Run Club guided runs. Year round, I spin at least one day a week. I love it. If I can’t get outside for long stretches, I’ll add another day of spin.
Lastly, make sure to drink plenty of fluids! I’m not great about drinking water during my winter runs, so I make sure to have a mix of water, homemade soup and tea once I’m home. Cheers!
Kate Scott is an avid runner, who has completed three marathons and numerous half marathons. She travels frequently, most recently to Toulouse and Bordeaux in France. She currently lives in Northern Virginia and is a certified public accountant.