May 21


I’ve heard of Virtual Races but Virtual Club Runs!?

By Conor Graham

May 21, 2020

If you’re just getting started with running then you may have noticed it can be a little lonely by yourself.

Running with friends fixes that issue but with social distancing guidance it’s going to be some time before you get to experience that. 

At Cheltenham Running Club we've switched to Virtual Club Runs so members reconnect while improving fitness together on Zoom. 

Keep reading to learn how virtual club runs work and why our members have taken to them. 

A Real Appointment to Exercise

We all benefit from having routines through lock-down and our running is no exception. If you know the virtual club run starts at a certain time you’ll do whatever it takes to get to that appointment. 

Thankfully, club members no longer have to drive across town to get there on time. They simply get themselves changed, click the Zoom link on their phone and they’re instantly connected with the coach and club members. 

A Realistic Challenge

All participants are helped to figure out a realistic speed to target for each virtual club run they participate in. This challenge helps to keep members focused on their run and ensures they don’t take off too fast or too slow. 

New members are taught how to set up a free running app which alerts them to speed and time so they can fine tune their run. They’re also taught how to map out a suitable route which is especially helpful for anyone new to their area. 

The Virtual Warm up

After checking in with the coach and other members the participants are taken through the warm up. 

This can be flexible thanks to the fact we're not in a group but by default participants are taken through a series of "stride-outs" where by they'll run fast for 30-60 seconds then on the coach's call, turn around and come back slow in around twice the time. 

4-6 of these provide a perfect means of opening the blood vessels and losening joints so they're ready for the main set. 

After the warm up set members are taken through small range of dynamic stretches which prime muscles for running and give the lungs a chance to catch up from the warm up. 

Warm up is an often skipped facet of the casual runner because most are trying to get the run over as fast as possible. Unfortunately a failure to warm up often leads to over exertion in the first part of the run and a diminished overall experience. 

By committing to the extra 10-12 minutes of warm up your body will be ready to rise to the challenge thanks to faster blood flow, fueling oxygen to your muscles. 

Just Before Heading Off

Final Instructions

After the warm up the group are given final instructions, especially relating to pacing. Taking environmental factors like, hills or head winds into account can ensure the target speed is realistic and will likely lead to members having a strong finish to their run. 

For the group runs (Tempo and Long) members are put into virtual groups (break-out rooms) loosely based on ability or friendships if a request is made in advance. 

This means people can talk in relative private as opposed to the entire group which can be off putting. 

Run with a Coach in Your Ear

One of the biggest benefits of our Virtual Club Run includes the fact your coach can be there for any participant at any time of the run. It’s not uncommon for club runners to have issues such as cramping muscles or joint pain while out on a run. 

You can get instant advice on the best course of action right when you need it thanks to the Zoom call which remains open throughout the session. 

Pick Your Headset

Some members are happy to have audio coming straight from the phone strapped to their arm but with a set of blue-tooth earphones built for running you can talk and listen without needing a phone by your ear. 

Phones can pick up a lot of noise like footsteps and traffic but with most headsets the in built microphone will focus on what's being said so there is very little background noise. 

When 2-5 people have a headset they can comfortably chat away without having to mute when other people are speaking which is fantastic for the easier parts of any run.

Swipe Right

Zoom has a Drive Safe Mode which enables members to press a large mute button when they want to come on and off mute. This can be useful if there are a lot of participants in the same room or a lot of background noise like traffic. 

Zoom Safe Driving Mode Mobile

Doesn’t that Use a Lot of Mobile Data?

No more than your typical WhatsApp or Facebook voice call.

Data usage is higher when you have your video on but our tests typically show 40-60 Megabytes of usage in a 60-minute call and that's with video on before and after the run, but kept off during. 

50MB is just 5% of one Gigabyte and given most of us are using Wifi all day this will unlikely cause an issue. 

There is actually no need to turn your video on during a run so it's mostly used before and after as a nice way to connect with friends. 

That Club Run Feeling

As you can already see our Virtual Club Runs are not just a check in before and after the run. Online conference calling takes these training sessions to all new levels of member engagement, without anyone needing to be in the same street let alone the same city. 

If you’re worried about keeping up with your peers then it’s no longer an issue.

We’ll help you figure out the best speed to run for your ability so each workout is customised to you. While you’ll no longer be keeping up with a group you’ll still be running together. 

Have you tried a Virtual Club run? 

How did it go? 

Conor Graham

About the author

Conor is the Head Coach and Founder of Cheltenham Running and Walking Club.

His experience as a Strength & Conditioning Coach, Triathlete and Personal Trainer ensure members are educated on best practice in regards to training progression while also nurtured through the early stages of fitness development.

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