Virtual races, indoor hiking and other creative ways to stay energized in self-isolation


As the ‘new normal’ continues to make the world a little smaller, it might be a fine time to make your individual world a bit bigger. Virtual hikes, marathons and backyard races are some of the ways you can stay active.

For something educational, virtual tours can take you beyond your living room to explore museums, national parks, theme parks, and the like. You can check out Google's tours of a few of America's greatest National Parks (try walking on the spot as you go!) You can even go underwater: the New England Aquarium in Boston, temporarily closed, shows off over 2000 underwater species viewable via the “Virtual Visit” page on the aquarium’s website. It offers daily presentations of colorful fish and other marine life with the opportunity to engage experts during Q&A sessions. 

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And if you want to come up for some air, VR HIKE, at, lets you explore various hiking spots across the US from your own home. High schoolers from Michigan first created the site for individuals with physical limitations, so the end result is comprehensive. Each VR tour allows the user to control all angles of the 360 degree video footage. Pair with headphones, and it's like you’re there.  

And there are other high-definition hikes to be found as well. like this tour of Redwoods:

Keen on stretching your legs more? Search’s database for virtual races going on this year. Many participants have checked in with positive reviews of their virtual races and have registered for up to 3 races at a time. If you don’t find what you’re looking for at Ultrasignup, is another spot, and New York Road Runners offers a virtual half marathon beginning May 1. And if you're a triathalete, you can give the Sportstats Virtual Tri a go. Keep your virtual race calendar full and keep in step for when races open up again! 

"[I've run] 5k, 10k, 15k, half so far! Some are races that moved to virtual events due to COVID, others were part of new virtual race events. Hardest part is waiting for cars/red lights to change to cross the street!" – Courtney K (@_ckmiles_)

Backyard running can get you up and about as well. It’s become a viable option for those stuck at home, and in the last month people have become really, really creative with the idea. From laps around an entire neighbour to laps around a living room couch, at home running is keeping people fit and warding off boredom. One of the latest and biggest innovations, however, is the ability to compete and hang out with other runners from around the world. Community, virtual loop races are coordinated via Zoom’s multi-video platform and permit a runner to see how many other runners are competing (at home, outdoors? Treadmill, neighborhood?). There are tons of virtual run events out there now; it’s just a matter of deciding in what new way you wish to pound some pavement.

Extending that to virtual marathons, we asked our All-Season community on Instagram for some thoughts on the matter...



Here's some of their feedback:

@symforlivet: "Did the @londonlandmarkshalf #LocalLandmarksChallenge, and had so much fun doing it! Ran a solo half mara, past landmarks in Oslo, Norway, where I live. Really struggled toward the end, but managed to keep going by thinking about the medal they will be sending out at some point, haha! Really loved the concept of collecting landmarks, plotting the route and checking them off as I went!"  
@littlemiessunshine 'Yes! I've done two virtual 5ks from @fresh.tracks Well, I ran one already and I'm about to run the second one :) I did the Comaraderie Challenge from @trail_sisters and I'm really excited to participate in the @happilyrunning Social Distance Challenge virtual relay in the month of May 🙌🙌🙌" 
@_ckmiles_: "✅ 5k, 10k, 15k, half so far! Some are races that moved to virtual events due to COVID, others were part of new virtual race events. Hardest part is waiting for cars/red lights to change to cross the street!"
@jzzj69 "Yes!! And i just signed up for the route 66 challenge, 2500 miles !! Let’s do this."
@running_my_best: "I ran my half marathon virtually! Definitely not as fun without all the other runners and the crowds. I still managed a PR though! Now to just wait for my medal to come in the mail 🏅"
@running.kati: "One 3k last weekend with @vdot_o2. There are challenges every two weeks, so another 3k and more are about to come 😎"
@nikkiohkeyf "Yes, I did a virtual half last weekend. I think it fell somewhere in between being an easy run and a race. I wouldn't have run the distance without the race, but I didn't run it as hard as I could. I'm glad virtual races are happening just for staying motivated."


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