A Round-up of the world of virtual racing, online challenges, cycling platforms etc.
As you probably gathered from my last post, we here at TI Training HQ love our events! We love the buzz we get from pressing the enter button, the focus it gives to our training, the excitement of race day, the merchandising, the bling. To us, it is what the sports we take part in are all about. Sure, we love to go out for a gentle scenic run, ride or swim on a sunny day, but nothing compares to that race-day feeling. With all that wiped away for the foreseeable future thanks to the Covid-19 situation, what remains for us to challenge ourselves, to help us keep our focus?
Well, there's actually quite a lot, depending upon how you feel like training or 'racing' or challenging yourself right now. You could always set your own 'personal' challenge in terms of distance (per session, week, month etc), or pace (eg... run a sub 21 min 5km). If you want a bit of variety, possibly some competition, and maybe a medal at the end (either virtual or real), here's a quick summary of the options that we have personally so far looked at - let us know if we've missed any that you have seen:
With all water pretty much out of bounds right now, unless you are one of the fortunate few who has their own training pool, the chance of completing an online challenge in water right now is pretty scarce. Your only chance would be to set up a resistance band training system in a small garden swimming pool and swim distance based upon stroke count. (see
Jo Mitchinson's set-up here : https://fulfilnutrition.com/5-lockdown-challenges-people-are-doing-in-their-own-homes/)
Luan actually set up a similar system a couple of years ago and gave it a go - it's damned hard work but a great option for all you hard core swimmers out there!
Running and Cycling:
Whether you're getting out and running or riding outdoors, or are limited to the treadmill/turbo, or laps of your garden, there are still a whole host of challenges available.
YOUR RUNNING/CYCLING/TRIATHLON CLUB
Most clubs are currently trying to keep their members engaged with distance, pace or points based challenges, so check out their web page or Facebook feed to see what's going on.
Simple challenges can be had by striving to work your way up a Strava leader-board, either on a route, segment or specific Strava Challenge. There are distance challenges, climbing challenges and the odd bespoke challenge set up by charities, promotions and clubs.
Whilst bespoke virtual medal companies have been around for some time, they are really coming to the fore right now. In addition, a number of other companies who usually only offer traditional race formats are using the virtual format to continue their race calendar for the foreseeable future. Choose your challenge, sign up, and complete the distance either on the date set or in your own time, submit proof and earn your medal.
www.racethedistance.com have a really lovely "Do What You Can" medal (see above) raising funds for the NHS right now, as well as their usual plethora of distance and monthly and annual challenges.
www.virtualrunneruk.com, virtualrunningevents.co.uk, ministryofmedals-virtualrunning.co.uk, powvirtualrunning.co.uk and medalmad.com have single distance and monthly challenge medals plus a super range of 'blingy' medals suitable for the kids as well.
www.ultrarunningltd.co.uk have their usual range of distance-based races running via the virtual platform (and whilst the distances may be standard fayre, their medals are pretty awesome!)
www.runthrough.co.uk are currently offering a number of their races as virtual races, as are www.ratrace.com, for those who like a longer challenge (we have entered a couple of these with RatRace as we were due to be running with them this year anyway, and our main race entries were deferred to next year)
www.findarace.com currently have their Plan B race series running, which gives a slightly different twist
and we are loving the offerings from racetheworld.co.uk, which allow you to take on distance and climbing challenges based upon landmarks or famous routes, such as Lands End to John O Groats, the Appalachian Trail, Kilimanjaro, Mount Everest. We think a May climbing challenge based on Kili, or Everest, may be in order?!
Pulse Events (www.pulse-events.co.uk) are also offering virtual alternatives to their events on their Facebook page, including some multi-sport options.
We are sure there are others out there, just let us know any you spot and we will add them to the list!
The online cycle training platforms have always offered some chances to race against either virtual or real-time live athletes but the game has been upped considerably with so many people currently signed up to the Apps and with time on their hands to race at the scheduled times, night or day! Check out the offerings from:
www.zwift.com - £12.99 per month
www.bkool.com - £7.99 per month
www.thesufferfest.com - £7.50 per month
www.trainerroad.com - £15 per month
www.fulgaz.com - (IOS only) £9.99 per month
www.rouvy.com - £9 per month
www.GoldenCheetah.org. - free - uses user-imported ride data
www.tacx.com - £9 (approx.) per month
www.rgtcycling.com - only at Beta testing stage, but full-featured and currently free during the Covid-19 pandemic
Most of the above companies offer some sort of limited pre-purchase test of their products which enables you to get a feel for how the systems work with your trainer, the look of the user interface and the data available both during and after the ride, so if you have a turbo-trainer gathering dust, and feel like mixing it up, give them a try (obviously, the higher specced, and more interactive (or 'smart') your turbo is, the more data and interaction you will get, but even a basic turbo-user can get something more from their training from most of these apps, if not the full-on race experience!). Note that some, such as Tacx, also offer treadmill sessions for those with compatible equipment... :-)
Whilst the above is a pretty huge list, it is in no way exhaustive, so please comment if you have found something else, and we'll look into adding it on!
Hopefully, there's something there that you will enjoy … stay safe and stay well x x