One Mile, Served Three Ways: How I Ran the NYRR Virtual Global Running Day 1M

One Mile, Served Three Ways: How I Ran the NYRR Virtual Global Running Day 1M

As New York Road Runners celebrated Global Running Day on June 6, we also encouraged runners to take part in our new NYRR Virtual Racing series with a free race, the NYRR Virtual Global Running Day 1M. Taking place between June 4 and June 10, runners had a full week to chase a new one-mile PR.

Since the race allows you to make multiple attempts at your best time, and the Strava leaderboard lists only your fastest performance, I used this week-long window of time to try to improve my rank each time. In total, I ended up making three attempts at it, and here's how they all turned out.

Attempt #1: Track

Date: Tuesday, June 5
Location: Lincoln Park, Jersey City, NJ

For my first go-round, I went back to an old standby: The outdoor track. A little more than four laps would tell me what kind of fitness I was in, and whether I might even need to make any other attempts at this.

If you'd like, you can enjoy this first-person video coverage, but you might want to keep your volume low—the wind noise can be a bit much.

Finish Time: 5:04 on my watch, but 4:59 in the Strava results. I had to move into lane 2 a few times, which added some distance to my run. If this were a real track race, my time would be 5:04, but since NYRR Virtual Racing and Strava only count the time it takes to cover the actual distance of one mile, I get a sub-5!

What I Learned: Running 76-second quarters is not as easy as it used to be. Be warned, recent grads: The 40-hour workweek will catch up with you.

So 5:04 (or 4:59) is perfectly respectable, and I could have left it at that, but I wanted to see what else I could do. Our 25 Fun, Offbeat Ways to Get Your Miles in on Global Running Day post listed running to work as one option, so I decided to go with that.

Attempt #2: Run to Work

Date: Thursday, June 7
Location: Midtown Manhattan, NY

Not to give away too many details about my personal life/morning routine, but my commute generally involves taking the PATH train before making my way to NYRR's office on 56th Street. To bridge that gap from 33rd Street to 56th, I decided to run up Broadway, which meant I would be headed right through Times Square.

Finish Time: 16:03
Actual Time Spent Running: 7:33

What I Learned: There's a reason Times Square is only closed to runners during the United Airlines NYC Half. While it wasn't as crowded as it would be at other times, there were a lot of people around, and seemingly even more stoplights. Since a virtual race records the total time from the start of your run to the end—not just the time you record on your watch—every second along the way counted.

Let this be a lesson to anyone else running a virtual race: Plan your course carefully. It's best to avoid high-traffic areas (like, say, Times Square), and obviously obey any and all traffic signals along the route. 

Having said that, running to work was nicer than I was expecting it to be, and I would recommend it on occasion—just don't plan on using your commute to set any new PRs, especially if your office is in Midtown.

So with two attempts down, I had a relatively quick time and a much less quick time to my name, and I still felt like I could go faster. But if I couldn't do it on a flat track, I would need a little help.

Attempt #3: (Mostly) Downhill

Date: Sunday, June 10
Location: South Orange, NJ

On the final day of competition, I had to "pull out all the stops" for this one. I went out near my hometown and found what seemed like the biggest, longest hill around.

If nothing else, I would get to see what difference a downhill mile might have compared with the flat mile I ran earlier in the week.

As it turned out, that amount is a lot.

Finish Time: 4:29

What I Learned: Despite improving my previous time by 30 seconds, it still wasn't enough to take the top spot.


Kudos to you, Tim Forthman.

So was it worth the effort?

In some ways, yes: I found out that by planning out a course a certain way, I can run a mile 30 seconds faster than I would ordinarily. And if I ran 4:29 here, and I get into 4:29 shape on the track, that would mean...

Anyway, wildly unrealistic dreams aside, in some other ways, the downhill mile was not worth it. I'm still feeling it in my quads, my calves, and my back, even as I write this post four days later. I think I might've recovered from this year's Boston Marathon sooner than I did from this one mile.

Still, I can say that overall, trying a few new ways to run a mile was a fun and interesting process, so if you've got a course layout you've always wanted to run, have a go at it with our next virtual race, the NYRR Virtual GOOAAALLL 5K! We're moving back up to 5K for this race, which will run from July 1 to July 15, and it's got a soccer theme just in case you'd like to work on your finishing "kick."

And if you're looking for another mile to race on the roads, come on out for the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile on September 9. 

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