Signing up for races can become pretty addictive, but these days you don't need to travel far to earn your bling. Virtual races are walking, running, or cycling races in which you track your activity and send proof to the organisers via email who then send you your medal in the post.
Virtual races tend to be a lot cheaper than traditional races and usually cost around £12. There are hundreds of different virtual races on offer in the UK and often they are accumulative, which means you do a certain number of miles over a specific time period in order to achieve your medal. Virtual racing can be a great way to stay motivated and is also a way to get more people involved in walking, running, and cycling. Many of the virtual racing organisations also donate some profits to charity so you know you're doing your part too!
Virtual Races With Medals
There are lots of different types of races on offer and you can go at your own pace to earn your medal. Some races are more challenging than others, but they are all a great way to stay motivated all year and can help to encourage more to people to get active. Some races involved running a certain distance in a month and some encourage you to just walk or run as far as you can in a specified time frame.
If you think you might be interested in joining a virtual race, there are two big players in the UK:
The benefits of doing virtual races
At a time when doing real races isn't possible, a lot of people are looking to do virtual races to keep them motivated. Having something to work towards can be hugely beneficial and can keep you focused on a goal. At a time when the future is very uncertain, having focus and discipline is needed more than ever.
By signing up to a virtual race, not only are you giving yourself that push and motivation to work towards a solid goal, you can also get other people involved and feel more connected to the racing community. Healthy competition is great for achieving goals and can keep your head in the right place.
The drawbacks of doing virtual races
Nothing will ever compare to doing a real race. That feeling of adrenaline on the start line, the other races by your side pushing your pace and keeping you focused. With virtual races, we can maybe put too much pressure on ourselves and without a solid event to go to, it is easy to lose motivation and maybe not perform at your best.
Make sure you don't put too much pressure on yourself and remember why you decided to start running or cycling in the first place. This is all for you, to help improve both your physical and mental wellbeing. Remember to have fun and enjoy the process!
Whether you completed your first OCR this year or you've done 10 already, the feeling at the end of a Tough Mudder is always the same... get me in a hot shower! Here are 10 things you'll be able to relate to if you've made it to the finish line of the famed obstacle course race.
1. Being electrocuted is way more painful than you thought.
You heard about it before you started and you promised yourself you'd go for it. But it was even worse than you anticipated!
2. Running. So much running.
When your friends convinced you to sign up, your worst fear was the obstacles. No one warned you just how much running would be involved!
3. And hills. So many hills.
Scrambling up inclines so steep you have to put your hands down in front of you wasn't something you expected but you smashed it anyway. Running uphill definitely isn't a favourite, though.
4. You realise you haven't tackled monkey bars since you were 5.
You approached this obstacle and saw how many people were dropping into the water and realised you haven't so much as looked at a set of monkey bars in years. Or, maybe you knew it was coming and you trained your butt off to be able to get across!
5. Wow, it's cold in May and September.
Being caked in mud and plunged into an ice bath would be great in July or August perhaps but those British grey clouds in May and September leave something to be desired! Note to self: take a blanket for when you finish next time!
6. You're stronger than you thought.
Whether you went into the obstacle course race raring to go or whether you were coaxed into it by friends, when you get to the end you suddenly realise you can do things you never thought you could, and what a feeling that is.
7. There's a real sense of achievement to hauling a heavy guy up a ramp.
The whole point of Tough Mudder is not to finish lightning fast, but to work as a team and help everyone out. Standing at the top of the pyramid scheme and helping people up is a really great feeling, especially when they're twice your weight!
8. You can't wait to do it all over again.
You're soaking wet. Caked in mud. You've been thrown off walls, electrocuted, and crawled under barbed wire. Your knees are cut and you're freezing cold, and yet for some reason you're already itching to sign up for next year!
CrossFit is a type of training created by Greg Glassman in 2000 and seeks to find the fittest man and woman on earth. But what is it? How does it work?
What is Crossfit?
CrossFit is a combination of many different training principals including gymnastics, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, kettlebells, athletics, swimming, plyometrics and advanced conditioning. It's a notoriously tough workout and is certainly not for the faint-hearted! CrossFit sessions are divided into WODs which stands for Workout of the Day. A workout can be made up of any number of different exercises and a WOD will be posted online each week for CrossFitters around the world to follow. People will then post their results online and compare with each other.
CrossFit Terms Explained
AMRAP: As Many Rounds As Possible
ATG: Ass To Grass (used to describe the depth hit in a squat)
CFWU: Crossfit Warm Up
EMOM: Every Minute On the Minute
GTG: Greasing The Groove (doing multiple sets of an exercise throughout the day, but not to failure)
HSPU: Handstand Push-Up
MetCon: A metabolic conditioning workout. Usually with lighter weights at a higher intensity and speed.
Pood: A weight measurement used by the Russians for kettlebells. 1 pood =16 kg/35 lbs; 1.5 pood = 24 kg/53 lbs; 2 pood = 32 kg/71 lbs etc.
PR: Personal Record
Rx’d: As prescribed; as written. Used to describe a WOD completed without any adjustments and with the set weights.
T2B: Toes to bar.
CrossFit Hero Workouts
There is a set of WODs in CrossFit which are named after members of the US armed forces who died during combat. These are notoriously tough workouts and are completed by US CrossFitters on Memorial Weekend.
Michael Patrick "Murph" Murphy was a United States Navy Seal officer who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005.
1 mile Run
1 mile Run
Named after Timothy Davis of the US Air Force who died in combat in 2009.
9 hang power cleans
6 push jerks
The CrossFit Games
The CrossFit Games is the biggest event on a CrossFitter's calendar and promises to find the “fittest on the earth”. There are several qualifying stages for this event.
CrossFit Open is the first qualifying event, whereby each week a new WOD is released and competitors will post their scores online. There is the choice of Rx'd workouts or scaled workouts which are made slightly easier in order to be more accessible.
The best athletes in the Open will qualify for Regionals which is a live, three-day competition held over three weekends in May each year. The top athletes from the Regionals then qualify for the games in July or August.
Throughout the games, athletes don't know which WODs are going to be announced, so they must train hard in every discipline and make sure that their weakest exercise is just as good as their strongest.
The CrossFit Games is a huge spectacle and attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators each year. They are sponsored by Reebok and the prize money for the winning man and woman is $750,000! CrossFit is a huge sport in the US but is slowly spreading around the world, with 3 of the most elite female athletes being from Iceland. There are many CrossFit gyms (or 'boxes' as they are called) popping up throughout the UK.
Last weekend, personal trainer and presenter Laura Sheriff took part in one of the toughest 10ks out there, the Total Warrior 10k. We found out how she got on.
How are you feeling after completing the race?
Like a warrior! Ready for the next challenge!
What type of training did you do to prepare for this event?
I actually did very little training because I’m still recovering from shoulder surgery. It was all a little last minute involving HIIT workouts, a few runs, and circuits at the gym.
What was the atmosphere like on race day?
Brilliant! Everyone was game for a great time and there was a real sense of community. Most people who do these races get hooked and do them time and time again.
What was the hardest obstacle you faced?
The ice bucket. You have to drop into a tank filled with ice and put your head under to come out of the other side. It literally takes your breath away!
Laura posing with her other half Craig Phillips, right, who is a well-loved TV personality.
Who was better, you or Craig?
I’d love to say me, but I’d actually say that Craig needed a medal. He had to hoist me over some of the larger obstacles to make sure I didn’t overuse my shoulder. Having said that I would agree that I won hands down in the style stakes.
How did you find racing in the Sundried tights?
At first, I was a little worried how they would fair in the muddy, soaking wet environment. Were they going to stretch and go baggy? But actually, they pretty much kept as perfect a fit as they did when I first put them on! Fashion and performance, what more could a girl want?
Anything you would change if you were to do it all over again?
I’d obviously like my shoulder to be stronger but I’d also like to go for a time.
James Griffiths is a gym owner and is as passionate about improving his own fitness as he is for his members. He talks to Sundried about training as a Strongman and his road to becoming Britain's strongest man under 80kg.
How did you first get into Strongman training and competitions?
I bought a gym that had a decent range of Strongman equipment. At the time I took the gym on I was training for the highest altitude workout ever recorded at the top of Kilimanjaro. After I did that I gave myself 2 months to train for my first Strongman competition. I came second which wasn’t bad considering I weighed 80kg and it was an open event against some 140kg+ guys.
What does it take to be a Strongman competitor?
The training is tough. Mentally, you are lifting numbers that you don’t see in the gym. Pick up over 3 times your body weight on your back and run with it. The risk of injury is huge, so good conditioning and balancing your programming is really important. You’ve got to want it a lot. I want to be Britain's strongest man under 80kg, and to do that I will need to cut back a lot of my more diverse training like Aerials, Callisthenics, and martial arts. The Strongman training just has too big a stress on the nervous system.
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?
I eat every 3 hours, eat foods of every colour every day, have loads of variety, get the quantities right, and always go for quality.
Talk us through your Strongman training regime.
I have just found out the events for the British Natural Strongman Federation final competition:
- Max Log - 90kg... 10kg increments until the last few. Then 5kg increments.
- Deadlift Ladder - 3@170kg, 2@200kg, 1@230kg
- Truck Pull - rope and harness 20 meters
- Sandbag - TBC but I'd guess 110kg
- Farmers Walks - 30m with 120kg in each hand
- Atlas Stones - 120kg over 130cm/ 51 inch yoke/bar
Below is my plan for winning it. This will be a 2 month phase:
- Monday - Farmers walks and Log Press
- Tuesday - Wild Man legs and volume deadlift (ladder)
- Wednesday - Sled drag/ sack carry
- Thursday - Farmers walks and Log press
- Friday - Sack carry and Atlas Stones
- Saturday - Truck pull and Deadlift heavy
- Sunday - Aerials, clubs
What is your favourite event in Strongman and why?
Anything where I’m moving. Super Yoke, Farmers Walks, Truck Pull, Sled drags. I don’t know why but I seem to be very good at them. I’ve moved a super yoke at 320kg which is 4 times my body weight.
What is the toughest part of Strongman training and competing?
For me, it’s missing out on the other activities I like in my training. To compete at the top level you have to dedicate your time to one thing. Strongman. It hurts. It’s hard to maintain mobility. I can’t eat all the food in the world as I have to stay under 80kg. It really does hurt.... but I want that title.
What are your three top tips for surviving Strongman?
Build your strength from the inside out. My background in a diverse range of training styles has meant my strongest link is my middle. Having the core and stability to maintain form and limit risk of injury has been a big advantage for me. Don’t ignore mobility. It’s hard to maintain, but not impossible. I am now training an up-and-coming pro Strongman called Sam Duthie. Watch for him next year in England's Strongest man.
What are your goals for 2018?
To be Britain’s Strongest Man under 80kg.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I take inspiration from everything I see and do. I’ve never been short on motivation so I don’t look to people to help drive me. My training and programming is my own. I just like meeting people with good energy. In the world of Strongman I’ve met and trained with Laurence Shahlaei and Terry Hollands. Both top guys.
What advice would you give someone thinking of entering the world of Strongman for the first time?
Strongman training will always feature in my training. It’s the best strength training on the planet because it’s focused on raw movement. For me that is what makes it more applicable than powerlifting, Olympic lifting, CrossFit etc. The numbers you lift are crazy but the difference the training has made to my other training and sports is obvious. At 90% of your max it’s the best thing in the world. At 100% training for competitions it’s incredibly exciting to see what your body can do. The Strongman community is friendly and encouraging and I’ve yet to meet a bad ego. There are no egos when you are carrying serious weight as everyone knows how much training goes in to being able to even attempt most of the events in competition. Just a lot of respect and fun.