Virtually the same

Virtual Running – surely an oxymoron. As confusing as ‘Asymptomatic’ or indeed ‘National Lockdown’ (except all those places that are still open – since when has buying a carpet been essential? – but hey, let’s not get political!).

2020 will certainly never be forgotten but arguably because of the way we all responded to the pandemic rather than the illness itself.

In years to come our grandchildren will pour over their history books depicting men and women queuing for toilet rolls, exhausted dogs being dragged out 5 times a day, parks resembling Noah’s Ark as society went by 2 by 2 and an entire population shouting quiz answers, holding board meetings or doing press ups in front of their computer screens.

They will read about how we did everything Virtually – from firework displays to church services, Summer dog shows to Christmas Fairs and yes even the London Marathon.

Running on our own – or with one other person – became the norm as sporting events were cancelled along with summer holidays. Seemingly straightforward but somehow it just wasn’t the same without structure and goals.

And that’s where Virtual Running Clubs and Races came to the rescue. Race organisers soon realized that by offering runners medals and official placings by simply inviting us to run the race distance from our front door and then sending in our electronic proof – was a winning idea. Just ask the 45,000 runners who braved Hurricane Enid (or was it Storm Dennis?) on October 5th to run 26.2 miles for their Virtual London Marathon 2020 medal.

Some inventive companies went even further and invented an App which directed runners around actual race courses through our headphones (appreciation must go to the Milton Keynes Marathon organisers for trying it but there was a worrying number of us staggering past John Lewis 17 times in an effort to get a phone signal).

Jog On adopted a simpler approach. Over the summer, at two meters apart, we filmed 11 different running related videos (think MTV but without the music) and wrote three levels of 10 week virtual training plans. We even tested out all 90 of the running sessions – getting home in mid-afternoon as our respective student offspring rose from their beds and headed at a LSR pace to the fridge.

Ask any sports psychologist and all will agree that the power of having a plan and an end goal stuck to your fridge or sitting in your inbox is hugely motivational. Second only to a whistle in your ear, a graph on your computer depicting how far you are along your challenge is bizarrely compelling.

So if you’re reading this sitting in front of your computer looking down at the dog in the hope that he might fancy another run round the block – why not step out of your comfort zone and try one of our Virtual Training Courses or book on for a Virtual Race (there’s plenty now advertising from 5ks to full marathons).

It may not be the same as standing nervously on the start line in a black bin liner but in 2020 virtually nothing is quite the same…