As fall races start to wrap up and the weather begins to change, runners all over a finding themselves near the end of their training plans. While crossing off that last workout is incredibly satisfying, the weeks that follow a race often leave runners feeling a bit lost.
It can be hard to keep running without having a goal race on the horizon. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a running goal.
Running challenges are a great way to stay motivated.
Committing to a 30 day running challenge is an excellent way to push yourself while knowing that it’s not going to last forever.
As we approach the months where staying inside sounds much more appealing, I’m sitting down to map out my winter running season and deciding how I’ll stay motivated. Acknowledging the fact that motivation will be low for a few months helps keep me honest and humble when selecting a goal.
These 10 monthly running challenges will inspire you and help you stay motivated this year when you need it the most!
10 Epic 30 Day Running Challenge Ideas
Running Challenge #1: Complete a streak
One of the most popular running challenges out there – a running streak! Completing a running streak means running at least 1 mile every day, for a designated amount of time. In this case, the challenge is to run 1 mile a day for 30 days.
The most popular time to complete a run streak is during the holidays, when excuses are high and motivation to get outside is low. Committing to running 1 mile every day during a busy month will help you stay accountable.
Streaks are an excellent motivator, and most runners find that once they get outside for that 1 mile run they end up completing a few more miles.
Challenge yourself to run 1 mile a day every day for the next 30 days! Can you complete a running streak?
Running Challenge #2: Negative split every run
Arguably one of the most challenge aspects of running for just about everybody is trying to not let your body get tired. The more miles you run, the more tired you’ll begin to feel.
But in a race or important run, the last thing you want to see is your pace getting slower as you run along.
This running challenge means committing to complete every run for 30 days with negative splits. Negative splits mean that each mile gets slightly faster than the previous. It could be faster by just 1 second per mile, or faster by 30 seconds. No matter how small the margin of increase is, it still counts.
Challenge yourself to complete every run during a 30 day period with negative splits. You’ll need to stay focused and dedicated during this challenge. Can you complete negative splits?
Running Challenge #3: Complete a plank after every run
While planking isn’t directly related to the act of running, your core certainly plays an important role on the run. Planks are beneficial exercises for just about every athlete, especially runners.
Planking works many different muscles all at one time: your core, back, arms, shoulders, glutes, quads and ankles. Getting in the habit of regular planking will increase your strength and efficiency on the run.
Our core does a great deal of work during each run to keep us upright, and a stronger core just might be the key to preventing yourself from getting tired on those long runs.
Challenge yourself to complete a plank after every single run for 30 days. This will help you get into a routine of regular core work, and improve your running along the way. Can you complete this plank challenge?
Running Challenge #4: Set a mile PR
One of the best indications that you are improving is seeing your mile splits decrease. Taking less time to complete each mile means that you are running faster, and therefore more efficiently.
Setting a mile PR doesn’t have to be a one time thing. Dedicate 30 days to setting a mile PR. If you set a new mile PR on day 3, spend the next 27 days trying to improve your time.
Can you set a mile PR in 30 days?
Running Challenge #5: Run at least 5 times/week
New runners and runners coming back from a break often want to increase the frequency at which they run. When starting to run or coming back from some time off, running once or twice a week feels like quite a bit.
But once you’ve gotten used to that, it’s common to want to start running more often. This running challenge requires you to run 5 times a week for 30 days. The distance of each run doesn’t matter, just the fact that you get out there and complete a run 5 times.
Running 5 times a week may sound easier than it is. What happens when the weather is bad? Or it’s dark by the time you get home from work?
Committing to running a certain number of times each week will keep you accountable and help you power through those excuses. Can you run 5 times a week for 30 days?
Running Challenge #6: Increase mileage by 10% each week
Another common goal among runners of all ability levels is to increase their running mileage. This can be a tricky goal, as it often takes time to achieve it safety. Many runners make the mistake of letting their excitement get the best of them and increasing their mileage too quickly.
This running challenge requires you to increase mileage by 10% each week. While it may not sound like a lot, that 10% will really start to add up. By the end of a 30 day period, you will be running 40% more mileage than when you started.
And the best part – you increased your mileage safely. Can you increase your mileage by 10% each week for 30 days?
Running Challenge #7: Set a 5k PR
One of the best parts about running is that there are so many opportunities to participate. Local races pop up just about every weekend, and groups of runners gather together to run on local trails. Finding a 5k is usually fairly easy no matter where you live.
Since 5k races occur so frequently, committing to the goal of setting a 5k PR in 30 days is a great way to stay motivated. Having a race on the horizon helps maintain training motivation throughout the month, and keep you focused on your goal.
You’ll have 30 days to set a new 5k PR, so if you try for one early in the month and don’t quite make it – try again. Can you set a 5k PR in 30 days?
Running Challenge #8: Run on a trail 2 times/week
Running is such a versatile sport. There are road runners, racing fanatics, lifelong neighborhood runners, group runners, barefoot runners – and trail runners. It’s so easy to head out the door and run through the neighborhoods every day that so many of us forget about the endless opportunities on the trail.
If you’ve been curious about trail running but just can’t find the motivation to drive to a trail, this running challenge is a great way to get started.
Complete 2 of your runs each week on a trail instead of the sidewalk or road. Sometimes forcing yourself to do something that makes you uncomfortable ends up being one of the best things you can do.
Can you run on a trail twice a week for 30 days?
Running Challenge #9: Complete every run in the morning
Ah, those early morning runners. There’s nothing like seeing a runner outside on your dark, dreary commute to work in the morning to make you feel guilty.
Morning running is a habit so many of us wish we could commit to. Whether you’ve tried and failed, or just gotten inspired hearing stories from those who run in the morning, there’s no reason you can’t do it too.
Getting started is always the hardest part. Giving morning running a try for 30 days might feel a bit more manageable that committing to it for an indefinite amount of time.
Knowing that you have an excuse to stop after 30 days will help you power through, all the while powering through might just show you that it’s not as difficult as you expected. Can you complete every run in the morning for 30 days?
Running Challenge #10: Run a 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon in one month
If you’re looking for a hardcore running challenge that will really push you to accomplish it all – this one is for you. Completing a 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon in one month involves running 48.6 miles for races alone!
Runners are known for their crazy feats, and this challenge is no exception. If you’ve been training for long distance races and are feeling healthy and ambitious – try signing up for all 4 races in one month.
You have 30 days to complete a 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon – are you up to the challenge?
The possibilities are endless with running challenges! Take some time to brainstorm goals you’ve considered – whether they’re big or small – and see if you can come up with a way to fit them into a running challenge.
It doesn’t stop here, either. You can create a daily, monthly or yearly running challenge for yourself at any time. Try out a different 30 day running challenge every month for a year, commit to completing something every day, or try your first 30 day running streak!
Getting yourself outside of your comfort zone will only lead to improvements and new discoveries.
More running motivation:
- The Ultimate Source for Running Motivation
- 30 Days to Become a Better Runner eBook
- 30 Day Strength Training Challenge for Runners