With the COVID pandemic still largely restricting outdoor endurance events to professional athletes, virtual racing is still a viable option for the majority of athletes who want to train and race in a safe environment. It may lack the “big race” feel of the real thing, but virtual racing can be done in the safety and comfort of your home and with little to no risk of infection.
That said, it’s important to implement several measures to keep your indoor training and racing regimen safe and fun. As anyone who has ever ran on a treadmill can relate, there is nothing worse than staring at a wall for a long time and wishing for the ordeal to end!
Keep yourself cool and well ventilated
Since indoor training deprives you of the wind in your face like you would outdoors, make sure you have a fan or several to keep you cool. Even if you have an air-conditioned room, it’s a good idea to have a fan aimed at your head and torso to help the heat dissipate faster.
Have your playlist ready and your batteries charged
One good thing about training indoors versus outside is you won’t have a problem listening to your favorite music. However, if you’re even slightly O/C, make sure your playlist is ready and your phone has enough juice to last through the session. There’s nothing more distracting than not being able to find your personal “power song”, or a phone that suddenly dies.
If you can, go offline.
It’s easy to get distracted with your social media if you’re training indoors. A quick check on your TikTok account can quickly turn into half an hour scrolling if you’re not focused enough. If you can bear it, log out of your accounts to help you focus on the workout, but still have your phone handy in case of an emergency.
Most amateur athletes can last through a 1-hour workout without having to eat, but for high intensity events or races lasting more than an hour, it’s a good idea to have several food items nearby. The rule of thumb is 600-700 kcal/hour, so for optimal fuelling you should have a banana or gel every 30 minutes to avoid “draining the fuel tank”.
You can survive without food for several days, but not without water. The human body is made of up to 60% water, and losing even just a small percentage through exercise can lead to dehydration, which in turn leads to decreased muscle performance and organ stress, among other bad effects. Drink 7-12 ounces of cold fluid half an hour before exercise, and another 4-8 ounces during the workout spaced every 20-30 minutes. Weigh yourself before and after exercise, and make sure to drink back any weight you lost for faster recovery.
Mind your electrolytes
It’s tempting to just stick to water during indoor training because it’s cheap, but you’ll get better results if you use a sports drink like Nuun Hydration. This effervescent tablet quickly dissolves in a bottle of water and contains the ideal composition of electrolytes and a small amount of carbohydrates to keep you properly hydrated without leading to weight gain. The electrolytes such as sodium and magnesium will help ensure optimal muscle activation, while the carbs will act as fuel.
It’s also ideal for vegan athletes, gluten-free, and uses non-GMO ingredients to ensure you only take in the healthiest ingredients.