8 Running Challenges to Stay Fit (& How to Run Each One)

Are you looking for a new running challenge to shake it up a bit?

If you’ve been running for a while now, your regular workouts could be going stale.

You run the risk of boredom if all you ever do is lace up those tennies and hit the road at your usual time, for your usual distance, at your usual pace, down your usual path.

And if you are tired of running, then you run the risk of running less. Or not at all.

And we can’t have that!

So, shake up that old running routine by giving one (or all!) of these running challenges a try!

Newbie Challenges

Not all challenges were created equal. Some challenges are great for brand new runners, and some are better for more experienced runners.

These newbie challenges are designed for runners who may not be in the best of shape or can only run 1-2 miles without stopping.

They are also perfect for walkers who want to get started with running.

Walking to Running

The walking to running challenge is just what it sounds like – a challenge to turn walkers into runners!

The challenge is completed over 7 to 10 weeks and introduces short stretches of running into your regular walking routine. It slowly increases the time and distance spent running.

This teaches new runners to run at a comfortable pace. Of course, it also boosts fitness levels, builds stronger muscles, and burns more calories than walking alone does.

Easing into running like this slowly increases the workout intensity, lessening the risk of injury.

How to Complete the Walking to Running Challenge

This challenge truly is only for those who do not run, or are not comfortable running, and want to get started.

If you are an established walker, then build off your regular walking routine. If you are not a walker, start by establishing a regular walking routine.

You should be able to comfortably walk at least 20 to 30 minutes before starting this challenge. Once you’ve tackled that, slowly start adding running sessions into your walk. How you add in those sessions is entirely up to you.

For instance, you could walk/run for a total of 20 minutes.

  • Walk for 5 minutes (warm up)
  • Run for 1 minute walk for 3 minutes
  • Run for 1 ½ minute then walk for 3 minutes
  • Run for 1 ½ minutes
  • Walk for 5 minutes (cool down)

Over the course of 7 – 10 weeks, slowly increase the amount of running and decrease the time spent walking. Don’t worry about the distance. Try to build up to 30 straight minutes of running.

Couch to 5K

The Couch to 5K is designed to turn nonactive people into runners. It challenges someone who is literally a couch potato to run a 5K.

This challenge was created by Josh Clark, from Cool Running, and literally swept the nation. Now there are a couple of different training programs and even a couple of apps to help you complete the challenge.

The basic challenge involves three runs a week, with a day of rest in-between each run, and covers the course of 9 weeks. Each week, however, has a different training schedule.

Most new runners are not the biggest fans of running, so this challenge gives them something to strive for. It’s great, because in the very first week, you start off slow, with just one minute of running at a time.

Starting a new exercise program can often feel overwhelming and not do-able, but the Couch to 5K gives you small wins from the get-go, giving you the confidence you need to keep going.

Plus, it helps you to get used to consistent workouts while reducing the risk of injury, since you start out slowly.

At the end of 9 weeks, you’ll be able to run 3 miles!

How to Complete the Couch to 5K Challenge

Before you get started with this challenge, sign up for a 5K race! This will be your graduation race. It’ll motivate you to stick with it.

And then grab the training schedule here. Or, you could download the C25K app (Couch to 5K) from Zen Labs or a similar app from NHS.

Two things to remember when completing this program:

  • Repeat sessions if needed. You don’t need to complete the entire program in 9 weeks. If you missed a week or had less than satisfactory progress, repeat it before moving on to the next week.
  • Focus on stamina, not speed. The goal is to finish.

And finally, have fun and be proud of the work you are putting in!

Casual Runner Challenges

Casual runner challenges are perfect for runners who run a few times a week, usually only around 3 to 6 miles, but have no variety in their routine.

They just run to stay in shape. They may even enjoy running. But they aren’t addicted to it.

30 Day Running Challenge

The 30-Day Running Challenge challenges you to run every single day, for an entire month. Distance and time don’t matter. What matters is hitting the road every day. Without excuse.

You don’t have to run the same routine every day; you can shake it up. The only rule is to run every day during the challenge.

Normally, casual runners only run 1 to 3 times a week. This challenge helps you to build up mileage, create a consistent running routine, and boosts your endurance. Plus, you’ll drop weight faster.

How to Complete the 30-Day Running Challenge

Running every day is hard on your body. Therefore, do not perform high intensity workouts during this challenge. Instead, shoot for a month of mostly slow and easy runs.

The only other rule is to hit that road every day. You can run as far as you want. But 1 to 6 miles is a good distance, depending on your fitness level.

Also, you can run fast when you feel like it. Just be careful not to do it every day.

Run a Faster Mile Challenge

The Run a Faster Mile Challenge is simply trying to PR in the mile or 1600 meter

Usually, casual runners run at the same, comfortable pace all the time. This challenge pushes your boundaries and teaches you to run faster. It improves your fitness and endurance over longer distances. It makes your normal runs feel super easy!

How to Complete the Run a Faster Mile Challenge

It’s best to start by timing your current mile. How fast do you run it in?

Then, create a running plan to beat that time. (Or grab this one, from Runner’s World.) Your training plan should involve intervals, fartlek’s, tempo runs, and sprints. Be realistic though, about how much time you can shave off your personal best.

If you currently run a mile in 10 minutes, it might be very realistic to take 20 seconds off that time. But, if you run a 6-minute mile, shaving off 20 seconds might be too much to ask for.

No Music Challenge

This one is pretty self-explanatory: run without music. Most casual runners listen to music while running. They get lost in the music and don’t pay attention to the run.

In this challenge, you learn to truly appreciate running.

Running without music develops better awareness. Plus, you are more focused and in tune to the way your body moves if you leave the music at home.

It also helps you to be more comfortable with your own thoughts. With music, it’s easy to distract ourselves from negative thoughts. But, if you leave the music out, you are forced to train yourself to stay positive throughout the run.

How to Complete the No Music Challenge

It’s easy – just leave your music at home! Enjoy you run!

Experienced Runner

The experienced runner runs at least 4 times a week, if not more. These runners usually have one or more half-marathons or full marathons under their belt.

They really enjoy running and are a bit addicted to it.

The following running challenges will help the experienced runner to become a stronger, faster runner.

Negative Split Challenge

With the negative split challenge, you simply run the second half of each split faster than the first.

Basically, you run faster every mile. So, your 2nd mile is faster than your 1st, and your 3rd mile is faster than your 2nd. Running each mile faster than the last gradually picks up your pace, so that you end strong.

Most experienced runners know their pace and can keep it throughout the run. They have trained themselves to consistently keep pace.

The negative split challenge shakes it up a bit by taking you out of your comfort zone and challenging you to run faster.

How to complete the Negative Split Challenge

The Negative Split Challenge can be incorporated into your normal routine. To do this, deliberately start your run off slow.

Then, pick up the pace after the 1st mile. Increase your speed with each consecutive mile, until you are finishing the run much faster than you started.

The idea is to push yourself to run faster for the second half of your run.

Reverse Run

The reverse run is kind of fun. Instead of starting your run at the normal place, you reverse it, and start where you normally finish!

So, if you normally start at your house and run to the park, then reverse it, and start at the park and run home. Just flip your route around!

This gives more experienced runners a fresh perspective. The normal route can be monotonous after a while. The reverse run makes it fresh, new, and exciting again.

Plus, it breaks down your body’s muscle memory, making you stronger. Instead of running up that hill, you’ll now be running down, using different muscles.

How to complete the Reverse Run Challenge

Simply start your run where you would normally end it!

Hopefully, you are quite familiar with your route, even if you are running it backwards. You don’t want any unexpected injuries.

If you normally run out for the first half of your run and back home again for the second, then shake it up by turning right when you usually turn left, or by running on the sidewalk on the left side of the road, rather than the right side.

Get creative!

Train for a Race

If you’ve never trained for a race before, or if it’s been a long time, then this challenge is for you.

The distance doesn’t matter; it could be a 5K or a full marathon. Choose your poison.

A lot of experienced runners get into a rut of doing the same thing, over and over again. Even if these runners run a lot of races, they often find themselves just doing it, without much thought and little training.

Deliberately training for a race will help you to push yourself and strive for more.

How to complete the Train for a Race Challenge

Don’t just sign up for a race and then run it! Put some time and effort into it. Follow a training plan.

Challenge yourself with speed training, tempo runs, and long-distance workouts. Build up some milage.

And have fun!

Which one is best for me?

Whether you are a newbie, casual runner, or a more experienced runner, there is a running challenge designed just for you!

Running challenges will help you to become a better, stronger runner. Taking on a challenge will break you free from the humdrum of your everyday run. You can fall in love with running all over again, just by accepting one of these challenges.

So, which challenge do you accept?

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