Virtual events – those where you partake in an event alone but may be competing alongside others (though not always) in a virtual environment – have really taken off in 2020. Many have responded to cancelled events by either taking part in an organised virtual version or by creating their own self-made event. Here’s why and how to execute your own virtual or self-made challenge
Why organise a virtual event or challenge
There’s a heap of reasons why you should organise a virtual event or self-made challenge in lockdown, here’s just a few:
1 Push yourself
As anyone who’s done a Zwift race this lockdown will attest, virtual racing is tough. That competitive element is huge and will help draw more from yourself than if you were racing or training solo.
But you don’t have to be racing others to crank up the competitive levels. Set yourself a challenge you’ve wanted to tick for years – a speed or distance PB, for example – and that self-made challenge will drive your competitive spirit to push harder than you would otherwise.
You don’t need a fancy gym to get strong. Just pick up heavy stuff and put it down again
2 Get your kit out
We often save our new, spanking and favourite kit for race day but, as any worthy pro will advise, you should never try anything new on race day. While most take that as referring to pacing and nutrition choices, it also includes kit.
A virtual or self-made event is a great way to test equipment you might otherwise say for race day. Triathletes save their favourite trisuit and runners their best t-shirts (or even shoes) for race day only to find stitches irritate and seams chafe.
So, get yourself kitted out in full race gear and spend training time in it. You’ll find out quickly if anything needs adjusting or swapping.
3 Test nutrition strategies
Like #2 above, we often don't think much about fuelling during ordinary training sessions. But a virtual event or self-made challenge provides a great opportunity to assess your nutrition choices. Ask yourself:
- Do I feel bloated when I race?
- Do I bonk frequently?
- Do I vomit regularly?
- Do I struggle to keep hydrated?
- Do I lose energy gradually throughout a race?
If you’re going to push yourself indoors, consume an energy drink that’s packed with electrolytes and 100% natural ingredients. Good stuff in = good stuff out
It may be that your nutrition is already perfect – in which case, rock on – but if not, use these simulation events to test new fuelling strategies.
What's important here is to consume nutrition at race intensity. Consuming bars, gels or drinks during a recovery run, for example, won't replicate the stress or challenge of getting calories in while running at race intensity.
Of course, if you’re looking to switch to more natural, healthy sports nutrition, you know where to look.
4 It’s fun
Probably above all else, a virtual or self-made event should be an opportunity to have a laugh. We’re all pretty overloaded with doom and gloom at the moment so taking part in a virtual event or organising your own self-made challenge should above all else be an enjoyable experience.
Here’s an opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted to do, something you’ve always wanted to test yourself against or maybe something your mate has tried for years to pin you to. Get stuck in and smile.
5 Celebrate the victories
It’s easy to think there’s not much ‘winning’ happening right now, but creating your own event presents you with the opportunity to ‘win’. That needs celebrating. As long as you’ve set a wise goal, there’s no reason you can’t smash it, feel the endorphin rush and celebrate accordingly.
Celebrate every victory
6 Get mates involved
Just because we can’t see each other in groups face to face, there’s no reason you can’t all get on board with a challenge together. Share the training and take part in the event in real time together, corresponding via Zoom or WhatsApp. This provides motivation and accountability if the effort starts to pinch.
7 Stay motivated
For most people, 2020 has been the most testing year in decades. Only once in a generation does a challenge present itself for such vast swathes of the population. For athletes and anyone who enjoys keeping fit, healthy and active, finding motivation has been one of the greatest challenges.
Events have always provided strong, consistent motivation and as they get cancelled, motivation wanes. But like presenting yourself with an opportunity to ‘win’, a self-made challenge also provides motivation to work towards something.
Set a challenge and regain that mojo.
Create your own lockdown event
Runners – there’s a whole world of challenges you can set yourself
A virtual event doesn’t have to be undertaken indoors looking at a screen - most of us are allowed to exercise outside while staying within a responsible distance from home – though many will choose to go full virtual. We’re lucky that treadmills and turbo trainers are commonplace and that we can purchase home-based exercise equipment with ease.
Looking for ideas of something to get stuck into this lockdown? Here's a few to get the creative juices flowing.
Challenges for runners
- 4x4x48: Run 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours
- Set a date to complete a solo 5km / 10km / half marathon / marathon
- Start a run streak (no, not that kind) - the kind where you run every single day for a set period
- 1x1x24: Run 1 mile every hour for 24 hours
- Shake up your training by incorporating more speed, hills or tempo work
- Smash a PB you’ve wanted to hit for years
Challenges for cyclists
- Join Zwift and enter a race once per week
- Rack up a set number of miles / hours in the saddle in a given period
- Complete a vEveresting – ascend 8,850m on an indoor trainer
- Join Sufferfest and become a Knight of Sufferlandria
- Improve your FTP
- Develop your body position and aerodynamics
Rollers (or a turbo trainer) and a fan is all you need to make some epic gains
Challenges for fitness fanatics
- Squat / press up challenge. On Day 1, perform 10 squats and 10 press ups, anytime throughout the day. Day 2 do 20 squats and 20 press ups, anytime throughout the day. Build this for an entire month – can you get to Day 30 and do 300 squats and 300 press ups throughout the day?
- Plank / ski sit challenge. Like the above, begin on Day 1 with a 10 second plank and 10 second ski sit. Increase by 10 seconds each day. You’ll have thighs and shoulders of steel by the end of the month.
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Of course, challenges have to by physical per se. Why not challenge yourself to:
- Take a cold shower every day
- Take on some easy-to-implement hacks
- Go plant-based for 5 days per week (you can still get your protein in)
- Practice mindfulness once a day for a month
- Sleep better
- Cook more with the family and have fun learning new recipes
- Get working on your mobility
- Keep your gut health in check by upping your prebiotics and probiotics