Deciphering Virtual Challenges

Running is about consistency, Fall in love with the process and the results will come

Top Left: 100 Days of Running (HDOR) event scorecard; Bottom (Left to Right): Event Dashboard, Finisher Medal, Event Badges; Top Right: Half Marathon Map

Running is a great sport. An excellent workout. Probably requires very less investment in terms of money. But needs a major committment in terms of accomplishing a goal. In the beginning of a workout journey, it is necessary to overcome that little voice in your head, which tends to pull you down. We saw in The Starting Problem, the basic aspects of how we can ask that voice to shut up! I am sure, you must have moved a stage up. But, the real problem is bringing in that consistency in the running. Anything that we do, we need to have a goal and a plan to achieve it. Same is the case with our workout regime.

Initially, when I began working out, I found it really tough to be consistent. Like mentioned in The Starting Problem, setting unrealistic goals can be a real turn off. It is important to set a small goal and then gradually increase it over time. However, the real test was to run every day and slowly and gradually increase the stamina and mileage. This is where the Virtual Runs played a very important part of my training.

Taking the first steps

In 2019, I registered for my first 100 days of running (HDOR). HDOR is an event where runners from all over the world participate and compete. The idea is to run everyday for 100 days a minimum of 2 kms a day. You can vary the mileage depending on your capacity. But, 1 activity of a minimum 2 kms needs to be done every day, or else the effort will not be registered.

I registered for the event for the first time. I was confident that I will be able to complete the same. I ran for almost 40 days and walked for the rest of the days. Oh, I almost forgot, you are allowed to walk as well! I finished 99 days and 399 kms.

While I was happy that I could perform, at least 1 activity a day for 99 days; I was not really satisfied as I ran only for 40 days. But, this improved my stamina on the 5 kms run. During the course of the year, I was able to finish 3 5 km Marathons.

The Marginal Progress

In 2020, I expanded this plan. HDOR came up with a monthly challenge plan. In addition to this, they also introduced the Resolution Run. Resoution Run challenges, were to be completed in the first month of the year. Additionally, annual challenges were introduced. The first challenge that I registered was a 5 km and 10 km annual challenge. The challenge was to complete at least 24-5 km runs and 12-10 km runs during the course of the year. To raise a bar a little bit, I also registered for a 1000, and a 2020 km run for the year.

I completed the resolution run successfully. In fact, the 10 km run instilled confidence in me and I ran my first 10 km marathon in February 2020. Since March 2020, India was in a lockdown, and it was tough to move out. The initial days were a little tough mentally, as I as well as people around me were scared. While I tried to do some kind of workout during this period, running was practically not possible. Unfortunately, before the lockdown started, I had registered for the 2020 HDOR as well. Things did not look very great here.

However, in May, I began using the home and the corridoor for short runs. I made it a point to at least complete the 5 kms run. Since August, I slowly started moving out and getting back to my runs. I was successful in completing the resolution run and was a gold level finisher for 5 kms. I also completed the mandated 12 runs of 10 kms, but was not able to exceed it. In the 100 days i fared very bad. I ran for 53 days only covering 238 kms. I couldnt complete the 2020 kms of annual run, but I managed to complete 1000 kms.

Improved Focus and Training

In 2021, the situation of Covid was already unpredictable. So I did not register for any resolution runs. I registered for the annual challenges. This time, I dropped the 5 km annual challenge and registered for 10 kms only. I also dropped the 2021 kms challenge and opted for 1000 kms only. In addition to this, I had bought a cycle in December 2020. I registered for the annual cycling challenges for 20 kms, 50 kms and 2022 kms. Things were going well and so by February I registered for the 100 days of running challenge as well.

But, by March, Covid surged again and all of us were confined at home. But this time I had a different plan. I knew that if I need to increase the mileage I need to work on my functional training and flexibility. I registered for an online training with Loukik Fitness and Sports. This would ensure that once the lockdown was lifted, I will be able to go back to my original training. I also invested in a Garmin Forerunner 45, to improve the running training and track workout data better.

Once the lockdown was lifted, the 2021 HDOR began. Fortunately, during this HDOR, there was a option to train myself for Half Marathon available. One of the runners had initiated this training program for all newbies in running. The training was imparted by Snails2Bolt coach Manish Jaiswal, without charging any fee for participants of HDOR 2021. In this training, I learnt the basics of running, importance of nutrition and importance of cross training. On 31st October, I ran my first 21 km under the guidance of the Coach. I also ended the 2021 HDOR in style with 100 days of running with almost 15-18 days of walking and 664 kms.

The fact remains that after 2 unsuccessful attempts, I was able to complete the challenge in the third one. But what I learnt during the process, is that Virtual challenges can be a great training resource. At the end of every challenge the organiser provides you with a medal. This may not be the real deal, but it is definitely a momento that you have worked hard. It kindof makes you want something more, and makes you work harder, challenging yourself and improving your statistics.

It can be debated that there are many people who try to rig the virtual challenges and cheat as well. But, why should you care? Virtual challenges are to be used to train and better yourself. Do not try to compete with others. That you can do in physical marathons or events. Use these challenges to train harder and accomplish those baby steps towards the larger goal.

Stay Safe! Stay Healthy!

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