If you haven't ever taken part in a "virtual" triathlon, you might be wondering if it’s worthwhile and what you get out of it. Here we cover some of the essential points for you:
Getting competitive in a live triathlon event is great, the adrenaline, the crowds, the general buzz... But, sometimes it's nice to have a race goal without that level of pressure. No-one chasing at your heels or pushing to overtake you, no nerves at the start line or worries about your transition, and definitely no queues for the toilets! A virtual race is your own race, you can set (and smash!) your own targets without having to worry about where you place and what others are doing.
Apart from the requirement to complete your chosen distance within a 48 hour period in the allocated run month, there really aren't any restrictions. Can you walk the run distance? Of course you can! Can you use a treadmill or an exercise bike? Of course you can! Do you have to swim in open water or a swimming pool? Either, the choice is yours! The virtual triathlon is set up to help you with your training and motivation, so you set your own goals.
There's nothing worse than checking out the schedule of forthcoming events for the month and realising that there's nothing that fits in with your calendar. With a virtual triathlon, it will ALWAYS fit in with you. The joy of a virtual event is the total flexibility of it, and if you plan it in and for some reason can't do it on the planned date, then you just push it back a day or two, or to the following weekend.
Particularly if you're taking on the longer distances, a virtual triathlon can be a great way to establish if your training plan is getting you to where you need to be but also to test out your nutrition and hydration plans. Knowing that your pre-race nutrition is right and that you have nailed your event food and drink / supplements / gels will give you so much more confidence when you approach the event season and are lining up at the starting point. Even if you're thinking about a new pair of trainers or cycling shoes, or a new tri-suit, then getting your chosen distance under your belt, in your new gear, is a confidence booster and will reassure you that there should be less chance of chafing / rubbing / blisters at future events.
Signing up for events is hugely motivational. Having that goal ahead of you is much more likely to mean that you stay on track with your training. But, signing up for a multitude of events can be costly! Sprint triathlons seem to range from £30-£50 upwards, and as you get into the longer distances you start looking at the £80-£100 and higher price bracket... thetrilife.com's Virtual Triathlons are £12 to join, and this covers the administration, your medal and postage.
Knowing you've signed up and committed to an event, even a virtual event, will give you something to focus on and get you out the door for your training. You don't have to worry about anyone else because the only person you're competing with is yourself (although you can check out the leader board when you've submitted your times, to see where you placed). And once you've taken part in one Virtual Triathlon, you can sign up to future ones and start smashing your own targets and beating your previous times.
You may be a lone wolf that likes to train alone, or you might be someone that loves the buzz of a crowd and is concerned you won't get that race day affinity with a virtual event. You might be taking on the virtual triathlon on your own, but you will still have a team of supporters behind you in the form of thetrilife's online community of triathletes. The group comprises of athletes at all levels, from novice through to experienced age groupers, but they're all their to share their training tales, motivate each other and give advice and support.
Who doesn't love a medal? A Virtual Triathlon is a great way to add to your "bling" collection and nab yourself a unique medal for your collection. Once you've submitted your stats, you just sit back and wait for the postman to drop your medal through the door.