There’s an app for that:  Virtual 5K app inspires getting active

A screenshot of one of the medals  compelling me to start competing virtually.

Facebook. We have a love-hate relationship.

I love keeping in touch with friends. I don’t like seeing ads about every item I’ve recently looked at in Walmart. I do, however, click on most of the products they recommend for me.

I’ve purchased vitamins that made me feel 10 years younger but cost an arm and a leg. I’ve sampled all-natural deodorant that made me smell exotic but didn’t quite keep the stink away.

And most recently, I’ve convinced myself that I want to do a virtual 5K.

What is that you ask? Well, that’s what I wondered when the ad popped up in my Facebook feed.

A virtual 5K or race is one where you don’t have to travel to any specific location to walk or run. Instead, your smart phone counts your steps over time and when you reach a specific distance you receive a few tokens for your accomplishment.

Right now I’m looking at several races on a smartphone app called Virtual Strides. Once participants create an account, they can sign up for one of these virtual races in hopes of one day earning a medal, t-shirt or other prize.

I’ve currently narrowed down my first virtual race to three different ones: the One Small Step Race, which rewards you with a moon-rock shaped medal with spacemen on the front and the shape of an astronaut’s footprint on the back; the Go Grand: Grand Canyon race, which helps raise money for the national park and rewards you with a medal featuring the iconic landmark; and the Eat More Pie Race, that gives winners a metal featuring a turkey wearing an apron, fake mustache and eating a slice of pumpkin pie.

It’s deciding which race medal I want the most that’s the hardest part of this whole process. After I decide, all I have to do is complete an online order and begin walking away.

I’m hopeful that the promise of awesome rewards will encourage me to be more active and maybe one day run an IRL (In Real Life) 5K.

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