Virtual challenges have become increasingly popular among runners, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. With traditional races cancelled or postponed, runners have turned to virtual challenges as a way to stay motivated, connected, and engaged. But what exactly are virtual challenges, and what are the benefits of participating in them? In this article, we’ll explore the advantages of virtual challenges for runners and how they can help you achieve your fitness goals.
What Are Virtual Challenges?
Virtual challenges are online fitness events that allow participants to set and achieve fitness goals from anywhere in the world. These challenges can include running, walking, cycling, swimming, or any other physical activity. Participants register for the challenge, track their progress through a fitness app, and receive a finisher’s medal or certificate upon completion.
Virtual challenges have been around for a few years, but their popularity exploded during the pandemic as people looked for ways to stay active and engaged while adhering to social distancing guidelines. According to a survey conducted by RunRepeat, an online platform for running enthusiasts, the number of virtual races increased by 1,200% in 2020, with more than 1.2 million participants from 117 countries.
The Benefits of Virtual Challenges for Runners
One of the primary benefits of virtual challenges for runners is increased motivation. By setting a specific fitness goal, such as running a certain distance or completing a challenge within a specific time frame, runners are more likely to stay committed and focused. Additionally, virtual challenges often have a sense of community and accountability. Participants can connect with other runners through social media or online forums and share their progress, provide support and encouragement, and celebrate each other’s achievements.
According to a survey conducted by Running USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting running, the top motivators for runners to participate in virtual challenges were setting a goal, staying active, and staying connected with other runners. The survey also found that more than half of the participants reported feeling a sense of accomplishment after completing a virtual challenge, which can further boost motivation and self-esteem.
Another benefit of virtual challenges is flexibility. Unlike traditional races that require travel, early morning start times, and limited time slots, virtual challenges allow participants to complete their fitness goals at their own pace and on their own schedule. This flexibility is especially helpful for busy runners who have other commitments, such as work, family, or school.
With virtual challenges, runners can choose the time and place that works best for them. For example, they can run in the morning before work, during their lunch break, or in the evening after dinner. This flexibility can also make virtual challenges more inclusive, as participants from different time zones and schedules can still participate and feel connected.
Virtual challenges can also offer increased variety for runners. Rather than running the same route or distance every day, participants can choose from a variety of challenges with different themes or goals. For example, at RUNMUMS, we offer a variety of virtual challenges for runners, such as the Love of the Seasons Spring Challenge and the Mother’s Day Challenge, which provide unique themes and goals for runners to enjoy.
Variety is not only more interesting, but it can also prevent boredom and burnout. When runners switch up their routine and challenge themselves with new goals, they are more likely to stay engaged and motivated.