by Benita Zahn
By now you've probably had at least one planned event canceled courtesy of the coronavirus. Perhaps it's been rescheduled to a later date. If things work out, the spring half marathon I was going to run in Myrtle Beach, part of the Diva series (I was really looking forward to the tiara and tutu!), will take place in the autumn. But I'm not hopeful. So, I've turned my attention to the virtual races. Look, I really don't need another tee-shirt, do you? And as for bibs, well, I've got plenty of them. What I need, and I suspect you do too, is a goal. People who don't run just don't get it. If I had a nickel for every time, I've heard a non- runner say - I'll only run if chased - they don't understand that it's the runner DOING the chasing. We may be after a new PR. Or we're chasing memories of fun times at races with others. Or we're running toward improved health. The author Bill Copeland wrote: “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.”
So, in this time of coronavirus don't lose sight of your goals. Have you read about the ultra runners who competed in a virtual race in early April? The event was won by Michael Wardian who circled the street he lives on in Northern Virginia and kept going for more than 2½ days. NO SLEEP! He logged 262½ miles and won a long-distance event called the Quarantine Backyard Ultra. The virtual race was intended to fill a void for distance runners who saw their race calendars wiped clean, just like yours and mine. More than 2,000 runners from nearly 60 countries took part.
Okay, so when you compete in a virtual race you don't have the crowds, there's no race expo to blow some dough at, and you're pounding the pavement by yourself. But thanks to technology you can take your friends along. All you need is a phone and earphones.
Having a race to train for, even a virtual event, keeps you accountable. It gives you focus. It's motivating on the days when the loss of your regular schedule dulls your day. This is also a time when we feel our choices have been limited and control wrested from us. By training for and completing a race, even virtually, you take back control.
So many races have gone on-line. Many of these raise funds for organizations now struggling to meet their goals. I recently ran a virtual race and donated money to the American Cancer Society. Kelly's Angels (I'm on the board) https://www.Kellysangelsinc.org moved their Mother's Day race and biggest fundraiser to a virtual event. The organization provides fun grants for children who've lost a parent to disease. Keep an eye out for these on the HMRRC page. And of course the Albany Running Exchange http://www.Albanyrunningexchange.org is offering virtual challenges. And don't forget the Freihofer's Run for Women, which is also a virtual run this year. Sign up at https://Runsignup.com/Race/NY/Albany/FreihofersRunforWomen ... Their swag is awesome!
Perhaps you're willing to spend a little and join other running groups. The New York Road Runners has a robust virtual race schedule: https://www.nyrr.org/ Or search out running clubs in other cities. Besides virtual races, they offer a different perspective on this time.
The bottom line is to have something to shoot for. Goals lead to action, but more importantly in these uncertain times, goals give us hope.
The Healthy Runner Archive
The Healthy Runner: How to Cope with Trying Times
Benita Zahn, DPS Bioethics
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“Everything Theater” Podcast with Ellen Cribbs
“Live Smart” column Times Union