On the Run

Adventures in Self-Care: Online Running Club Communities & Racery

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Today, I am writing about one of the things that regularly consumes chunks of my life, 10-days at a time: Racery events with my online running communities.

I suspect I’ve mentioned the Potterhead Running Club (formerly Hogwarts Running Club) here before, but it’s worth mentioning again. This community, living primarily on Facebook with a healthy dose of Charity Miles and IRL meetups, is one of the places I go to find a sense of belonging. It’s also one of the ways I stay motivated to be active.

Virtual races like the ones hosted by PHRC often get a bit of a head tilt when I first mention them. You sign up on line, run or walk the distance yourself, and receive a medal in the mail. It’s a different sort of togetherness than the community of a real life event, but one that nevertheless can motivate you to earn your race bling. In PHRC, these medals also earn house points towards the annual House Cup competition (which my beloved Hufflepuff has yet to win during my tenure in the club).

These are a great deal of fun, with medals like the Pygmy-Up 5K and more. But what I’m really on about today is something else entirely–the virtual race-across-the-map extravaganzas hosted on Racery. This site allows you to create teams and run along a virtual map of different areas. A few times a year, PHRC hosts Quidditch, a 10-day racing event.

Last year, the associated broadly nerdy Fandom Running Club began hosting Racery events, as well. These were dubbed Battle of the Fandoms, in which you sign up for a team representing a particular pop cultural phenomenon (I’ve been on two Marvel-themed teams, for example). All of these virtual races benefit charity (a different one selected for each race, and sometimes, for each team), so that’s an added bonus on top of the fun and exercise.

Currently, we’re in the midst of the third running of Battle of the Fandoms. I’m representing team To the Pain! (Princess Bride).

It’s hard to communicate how fun these virtual race events are, or how consuming. My boyfriend has come to understand it as “the time when my girlfriend gets crazy.” For 10 days, I’m all about adding intentional mileage to my day, be it parking at least a half mile away from campus for work or spending long hours at the gym plugging away on the treadmill.

There are team groups where you can chat, plan, and commiserate about the fact that your feet hurt, your fridge is empty, and your laundry pile has consumed your home. It’s truly a camaraderie I look forward to time and again. It doesn’t hurt that I also always inevitably lose some weight from So. Many. Miles.

It’s a little bit all-consuming, as I’m fiercely competitive. Thankfully for our collective health, there is a “cap” to daily miles allowed per person–15 at the most. Hitting this number is called “capping” and is a worthy goal of a Saturday, if you’re the kind of person who can and wants to walk/run/jog for that long. This past Sunday, I suggested a hike in the woods so I could get mileage towards the goal of capping. While not the most efficient way to get in miles, it was a beautiful (albeit cold & wet) adventure through the winter wonderland of Raccoon State Park.

In all, I’m so happy I chanced upon these online running communities a few years back. It gives me something to strive towards with a team, especially during these bleak and dreary months. It’s also a great sense of community around trying to be more active and benefiting charity, something that isn’t always easy to find in your day-to-day life. Doing these events is a little slice of how I take care of myself, stay active, and feel connected to other humans.

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