Can Virtual Races Help You Get Moving Again?

“I like your shirt. Did you do that one?” I was at my doctor’s office for my Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, and my doctor was talking about the race T-shirt I was wearing. I sheepishly explained that yes, I had done it, but that it probably wasn’t what she was thinking. The shirt was from a virtual race that I did a couple of months ago.

I’ve fallen in love with virtual races. They’re what helped me get a lot more consistent with getting my movement in.

If you haven’t exercised for a while, or you deal with a chronic pain condition, I’m sure you know how hard it can be to get started again. Virtual races can be a way to increase movement on your terms.

What Is a Virtual Race?

We’ve been doing so many things virtually over this last year that you may already know about virtual races, but just in case you haven’t heard of them…. Virtual races are races that you participate in without having to go to a certain place or time. You can just do them wherever and whenever you want.

How Do They Work – And Do You Have to Actually Run?

Most of the virtual races seem to be very simple to participate in. You just sign up for the race and they tell you exactly how to get started. I’ve only done races through Yes.fit, mainly because they were the ones who had the nicest-looking rewards for finishing the race. Some races only offer medals, but Yes.fit offered T-shirts. I knew getting something I could actually use would be more motivating for me than something I’d put on a shelf somewhere.

Some of My Race T-Shirts

The beauty of the virtual races (at least the ones I’ve done) is that you’re in charge. You get to choose what activities you’ll count toward your race and when you’ll do them. With Yes.fit, you can connect your fitness tracker to their app, or you can manually log your distance.

When I did my first few races, I chose “All Activity” so that everything I did counted toward my race. For the one I’m working on now, I chose “Walking” so that the only thing that counts toward my race is my actual walks. As I said, you’re completely in charge of what you’ll count toward your race, and when you’ll participate.

How Can They Help You Get Moving Again?

Sometimes having something concrete to work toward can give you the extra push you need.

Can virtual races help you get moving again? I know for me, it really was a vicious cycle — I was in too much pain to exercise, so I kept getting more and more deconditioned, which caused me more pain.

It really hit home at one of my OMT visits when my doctor said that they see the hip issues I have in a lot of long-haul truckers because they have to sit for so long. I knew I absolutely had to get up and get moving. The problem was that it hurt to move. It’s hard to purposely do something you know is going to cause you pain, but I knew it was absolutely necessary if I wanted to feel better in the long run.

That’s where the virtual races came in for me. I knew having some kind of incentive (besides the nebulous “you’ll feel better” one), would help me be more consistent. I actually had something concrete I was working toward. On those days that I didn’t really want to move, I would think, “Only ___ more miles and I’ll get my T-shirt. I’m going to get a few more steps in.”

A funny thing happens somewhere along the way too. As you increase your movement, you start to feel better, and as you start to feel better, you want to do more. As we’ve talked about before, that small start gives you something to build on. It’s like stair steps – when you go up that first step, you’re not up very high, but as you take each subsequent step, you go higher and higher.

How Do You Get Started with Virtual Races?

There are several different places you can find virtual races. As I mentioned, the only ones I have done are through Yes.fit, and they’re an absolutely outstanding company. They’re not the only place you can find virtual races, though. All you have to do is search for virtual races, and a bunch of them come up.

Also, if you have a charitable cause you like to support, many of them do virtual races now. That’s a fantastic incentive to get moving. Not only do you help yourself, you help others at the same time. You can check your individual charities to see if they have them, but sometimes, you can support a charitable cause through one of the other race apps.

With Yes.fit, I’ve already supported veterans by “running” the Let Freedom Ring 5k. They have quite a few races that support causes that are near and dear to my heart.

I only have experience with Yes.fit so far, so I’ll just tell you how easy it was to get started with them. I went to Yes.fit, chose my race, downloaded their app, and synced it to my Fitbit. Now my Fitbit automatically sends my workouts to my race. Once I’ve completed all my miles for the race, Yes.fit mails my T-shirt. Easy peasy, right?

Thumbnails of different races and their rewards. The text reads: "Join virtual races designed around exciting and popular themes. Earn unique medals, coins, t-shirts, & more! Most races are available to the public - including fundraising races.
Used with permission from Yes.fit

If You Want to Give Yes.fit a Try….

With Yes.fit, you can join a race without becoming a member. The only caveat is if you are not a member, you have to choose a reward, which means it will cost you something to run the race. Becoming a member has its perks – members-only races, savings on your rewards, and access to challenges – to name a few, but you certainly don’t have to become a member to participate in many of the races.

If you’d like to give Yes.fit a try, you can use my code – ciqXgB6O – to save $20 on your first race. In the interest of full disclosure, if you use this code, I get $20 credit as well. We both win. Woo hoo!

Participating in virtual races has really helped me get and stay focused on increasing my movement over the last few months. Now I’m not only walking, I’m doing my strength training and yoga more as well. They’ve even got me working toward actually doing a 5k, all at one time, for a charity I have a soft spot for, St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Can virtual races help you get moving again? In my case, the answer is a resounding YES! Getting started with exercise is usually the hardest part. If you’re like me and need a little incentive to get moving again, virtual races might be helpful for you as well.

Have you ever tried virtual races? What was your experience with them? If you’ve done any, we’d love to hear about them!

Blessings,

~Terri

***This blog post contains an affiliate link. I may earn a credit on my account if you use my link. You will not be charged extra, but you will be helping me out. Thank you for helping me fund my race obsession!

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6 comments

  1. Thank you Terri. Great post. I have not researched virtual races. Thank you for researching, actually trying it and sharing your experience. Now I am considering trying this. Especially after Sept. when I am not working. 🏃🏼‍♀️

    1. Thanks Sarah! I’m glad you found this useful. I love doing these – they really do help me stay motivated. If you decide to try Yes.fit, don’t forget to use my code so you can save some $$$. Only a few more weeks of work for you – YIPPEE! Have a great weekend – talk to you Sunday!

  2. What an amazing idea! I’m glad you’ve found virtual races to be such a good alternative, and it really is great to see some pandemic inclusion continuing where so much stuff started to disappear once lockdowns lifted. We had this online pub quiz we’d do by a pub in Oxford. Every couple of weeks, it’d stream live on Facebook and we’d join in. Once the pubs re-opened, they stopped doing it, which I thought was a real shame.

    “I’ve only done races through Yes.fit, mainly because they were the ones who had the nicest-looking rewards for finishing the race” < That is EXACTLY how I would decide which to do! I love cool tees.

    Thanks for sharing this. I can see virtual races, providing you have the equipment required to track your distance, a great way to get people motivated, accountable and included in ways they may otherwise be unable to be. xx

    1. Ooh….that pub quiz sounds like a lot of fun! It’s a shame they discontinued it after lockdown. Are the pubs and restaurants having the same problem we are of not having enough people to work? I wonder if that’s why they quit doing it.

      With the distance tracking for the races, Yes.fit says you can log your own workouts, so I would imagine just a cheap pedometer would work to track distance. They just changed things up a little bit, and it looks like it’s all app-based now, so of course, people would need a device they could use to download the app.

      I hope you and your parents are doing well. Stay safe and take care of yourself. Sending hugs your way!

  3. What an interesting post Terri. I’ve always wondered about those virtual races. Although I’m not a runner myself, my son is part of his high school cross country team. During the pandemic, there were thoughts of doing it virtually which confused me but they eventually figured out how to run the race individually and officially record the times. But here in Hawaii, with a few smaller community base runs, they are doing that virtually and I’m going to ask my friend how it was when I catch up with her. She’s a runner and enjoys doing all those type of races.

    1. Thanks so much Mark! I always say I don’t run unless someone is chasing me.😁 I’ve never been a runner, and that’s part of why I love these virtual races. You can count any kind of activity you want, including your activities of daily living. For my latest race, I’m only counting actual walks, which encourages me to go out and get my walks in each week. I hope you and your family are staying safe and well. Blessings to you!

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