My Best Virtual Marathon Advice

by | May 25, 2020 | Training

I’m no stranger to running virtual marathons: last year, I realized that in a lot of ways, I actually love the experience of race day simulations. Yesterday, though, was ROUGH. A few weeks ago, we had the awesome Liz Warner of Run to Reach on the Consummate Athlete Podcast, and she convinced me to jump into her virtual marathon she was hosting on May 24th. I’m always up for a challenge, and it seemed like a good way to close out our #ConsummateAthleteParty, so I signed up.

I should note that last Sunday, we got an adorable new puppy. One who doesn’t sleep through the night. So, it’s been a long week. But I was still looking forward to the run!

DW picked Sunday morning to get up later than usual, which meant I got out the door later than I planned, and had to be back by 12 to…. well, to work. Like a normal person, I budgeted myself four hours to finish a marathon and be back in the office for an event at noon.

Big yikes, but then again, with no competition, the carrot of ‘If I get back faster, I’ll get to shower before sitting at my desk’ was a good one!

Long story short, it was a hot, humid day–which we haven’t had in months–and frankly, my body was not prepared for that. I hit the wall HARD around mile 17, and between 17 and 23 was just rough. I definitely underfueled a bit (when will I learn!?) and was hurting. I almost considered calling for a pickup, but thankfully, remembering that there were runners around the world doing the same virtual marathon kept me accountable.

OK, I wouldn’t have called for pickup either way. But still, it was a good thought.

Anyway, I technically did my best marathon time (which isn’t that impressive, but I also rarely run marathons and have only run one non-part-of-Ironman road marathon in my life) in 3:41, but to me, the post-race feels were the best part.

I’ve never come out of a marathon or longer feeling like I could function totally normally, I’ve always been a tired mess. And sure, I did want to nap yesterday. But I also signed on for work, did my job, cleaned, hung out with Peter and the pup and had a fairly normal Sunday, all things considered. So that’s a win!

My virtual marathon advice:

  1. Treat it like a real race, from the day before. Have your standard pre-race dinner, go to bed early, set a start time in the morning, have your normal pre-race breakfast, stick to your normal pre-race routine, etc.
  2. Have a route planned. When going this far, trust me, you aren’t going to feel like ‘adding distance’ at the end because it was shorter than your expected, or ending up finishing miles from home.
  3. If you can, set up an aid station. This might mean doing two loops from home, but if you’re the kind of person who would get home and decide to call it at the halfway mark, you’ll be better off finding someone who can set up a station for you partway. This would have been so nice, as I would have loved to swap my hydration pack for a new, cold, non-sweat-soaked one.
  4. Have an emergency pumpup playlist. My last 2.5 miles were as fast as my first 2.5 entirely because I swapped from podcasts to the playlist and it got me moving again.
  5. It’s OK to take a couple walk breaks. Without the normal aid stations, it’s hard to give yourself the same walk breaks you would normally take at aid stations in a regular marathon. The miles I was having a rough time, I actually did 30-second walks and slowly sipped from my hydration pack and got a few big sips of water + Tailwind down. Tailwind, if you haven’t heard me mention it before, is great for people with GI distress since it’s unflavored, light, but calorie and electrolyte packed. It saved me! Get it here (Canadian)
  6. Celebrate your finish! This, I didn’t do so much. But you should! Have a celebratory meal planned, set up a finish line, do whatever you can to make it special.
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