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6 ways to stay motivated when you can’t race in person

We all miss going to races, but there are other ways you can fuel your competitive drive

For most runners in Canada, it’s been almost a full year with no in-person racing opportunities. This has been incredibly difficult for many people, as races are a key source of motivation for a lot of runners. While you have had a lot of time to find new ways to motivate yourself in the past year, it can’t hurt to try out some other methods, so here are six other options to test. Nothing can replace in-person races, but these placeholders can help fuel your competitive drive until those events make a comeback. 

Try a virtual race

You definitely know about virtual races by now, but if you haven’t tried them out for yourself, it might be worth signing up for one. There are countless virtual races and challenges to be found online, ranging from short runs like the mile all the way up to marathons and even ultras. You won’t be able to run alongside other competitors, but you’ll still have the chance to compare your result to everyone else’s after the race, and depending on the event, you might get a medal. 

Run a solo time trial or race 

Whether you want to call it a time trial, a solo race or anything else, you might enjoy running on a set course just to see how fast you can go. Like a virtual race, you can go as short or as far as you like with this, but the key is to structure it like a real event. Set a date and time for the run and then train and work toward it like you would with a regular race. 

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Sticking to a schedule will give the run an official feeling. If you simply say, “I’m going to run a 10K sometime in the next week,” don’t map out a course and don’t treat it like a real race, then it’ll be hard to get yourself excited. Depending on how long the run is, you can even set up aid stations along your route to give it another shot of authenticity. 

Set a big goal 

Set a goal for yourself that will take a lot of work to achieve. It could be to run your first marathon, or perhaps to tackle an ultra for the first time. Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s something way down the line. By the time you’re ready to take a stab at the goal, in-person races might be back.

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It’s important to set other goals for yourself along the way if you choose this option. If you only have one goal that’s far in the future, you could lose your motivation, and in a few months you’ll be questioning why you set it in the first place. 

Race against friends 

You can’t race with your friends in person, but you can organize a group time trial. Create a course around your town, send the map to your friends and see who can complete it fastest. It doesn’t even have to be a one-and-done event, and you can instead make it an ongoing challenge. Make sure everyone tracks their runs with a GPS device and then keep a list of the rankings.

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Run an FKT

An FKT (fastest known time) is a record on a specific route. If you visit fastestknowntime.com, you can search for FKTs near you, and if you can’t find any, you can create your own. Track your run and try to beat the best time on the route. 

Map of an FKT around Montreal. Photo: Strava

Find a record 

You might not be able to break a world record on the track or in the marathon, but there are so many other running records out there. Try finding a record and working toward beating it. Maybe you’d like to run the basketball mile, perhaps joggling sounds interesting to you or maybe something else will catch your eye.