I hate to sound like one of those annoying runners, but I wholeheartedly love to run.
Maybe you are already like me…
Or at least, you most likely know someone like me.
Nonetheless, I’m also aware of the dark side of doing the same running workouts, over and over again, which is BOREDOM and a whole host of other troubles.
The fact is, whether you are a recreational runner, or an elite athlete, there is a sense of boredom and tiredness that sets in when you stick to the same running routine, over and over again.
But that’s not the end of the world.
There is always something you can do about it.
Today I got you covered. Inside of this blog post, I’ll be sharing with you a 30-day running challenge that will jolt the fun back into your running and make your running experience outdoors (or indoor) more enjoyable.
My hope is that by the end of this 30-day challenge, running is going to become something you no longer dread.
So are you excited?
Then here we go…
Day 1 – Update your Playlist.
Make a list of the songs that make you excited and happy, but haven’t listened to you in a while. Anything you use to like as a teenager (and still do), will do the trick.
To get the most out of it, opt for a running music playlist with songs that have more than 130 beats per minute (BMP).
Why? Research shows that listening to high tempo music while exercising can make the activity seem easier and improves your mood as you exercise.
Day 2– Add Bodyweight Exercises to your Run
This is not only a fun way to change up your runs, but it can also help you build both strength and stamina.
Add body weight exercises to your run by performing do-anywhere moves, such as push-ups, squats, lunges every 5 minutes you spend running.
This is like adding a CrossFit elements to your runs.
Day 3 – Try the Tabata Protocol Routine
After a thorough dynamic warm-up, sprint as hard as you possibly can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat the cycle for eight times as hard as you can.
Finish off the session with a cool-down jog and a few stretches.
Sure, this might be the shortest workout ever, but it doesn’t mean that it’s easy—especially if you are abiding by the Tabata ethic: intensity to the extreme. This might be the craziest and most intense form of interval training that there is.
Day 4 – Take Walking Breaks
During today’s session, make sure to add regular walking intervals into and throughout your run.
This will get you sweating, of course, but while being gentler on your body. And without putting it under too much stress.
The walking breaks might also serve as a mental break from the physical demands of running.
Therefore, be sure to take short walk breaks—usually a minute or less—every four to six minute of running.
Take the walking breaks even if you didn’t feel like taking them.
Day 5 – Try Fartlek
Fartlek is a Swedish training term that means “speed play,” and it’s all about performing sprints while following an unstructured structure.
This is going to help you reap the benefits of speedwork without the formal and structured form of the traditional sprint.
After a proper warm-up, sight an object in the distance, whether it’s pole, a car, a cat, a person, or the end of the block then sprint to it as fast as you can. Once you reach it, slow down, recover and sight the next object and so on and so forth.
Just whatever you do, make sure to make a game of it. Fartlek stands for, after, “speed play.”
Day 6– Cross Train
Ditch your running shoes and cross train instead.
Do this especially if you are feeling a bit under the weather with your running program, are injured, or burnt out, physically or mentally.
Some of the best cross training workout for runners include cycling, swimming, weight lifting, rope jumping, and my favorite, yoga.
Day 7 – Rest Day
This is your first recovery day. Make the most out if it.
Day 8 – Try a Podcast
If you are not into music, then turn your ears into podcasts and listen to them—especially during your long runs.
You can find plenty of running-related podcasts on the web by just doing a simple Google Search.
Also, feel free to listen to other types of podcasts covering a broad range of topics.
My favorite is the 4-Hour workweek blogger Tim Ferris. He talks about all things fitness, health, adventure, finance, startup, business and everything in between.
Audiobooks are an option, too.
Day 9 – Try Hill Reps
Hill training is a crucial part of any running program—whether you are a recreational runner or an elite athlete. It builds power and strength like nothing else.
It’s also an excellent way to spice up your running lifestyle.
Here is how to proceed:
Locate a long hill that should take you at least five minutes to run up. Then after a 10-minute dynamic warm-up, run up the hill at a sustainable pace, turn around and recover on the way back down.
Repeat the cycle three to five times (or until you can do no more).
Day 10– Use an Adventure App
Use apps like Zombies, Run and the like to make your run an immersive adventure game.
I happen to like the Zombie, Run app because I’m a big fan of the hit series The Walking Dead and the thought of a post-apocalyptic world where you have to fend for yourself while running from the dead and the living is guaranteed to give you a push.
You can download the app here.
While using this app, you going to have to outpace packs of angry, hungry brain eating zombies while collecting the items and objects you need to progress with your mission.
If you are a fan of the Walking Dead, then you’ll really, really, like this one.
Day 11 – Hit the Treadmill
Hop on the treadmill and do a workout you’ve never tried before, whether it’s pyramid routine, an interval session, or an incline session.
Or check this post for some treadmill workouts you might not have tried before.
The fact is, you can do almost every running workout on the treadmill. That’s the beauty of that wonderful machine.
Day 12 – Smile while running.
While this might feel awkward at first, this gonna definitely “force” you to enjoy your running routine.
The fact is, research shows that the mere act of faking a smile tricks the brain into releasing the good-feel chemicals, such endorphins, and serotonin, associated with states of happiness and euphoria.
Not only that, research shows that smiling decreases recovery time from stress and lowers heart rate.
Therefore, get into the habit of greeting every person you pass with a heartfelt nod, a good morning, or a big smile.
Day 13– Do a Ladder Workout
This is another variation of the traditional interval workout.
A ladder workout is a well-known form of speed work interval workout in which a runner climbs up, down or both in speed and distance as the workout progresses, with a relatively short recovery break in between each interval.
Just whatever you do, make sure to run each interval a bit faster than the preceding one, then jog for 100 to 200 meters for recovery between each interval.
Here is how to proceed:
After a 10-minute dynamic warm-up, run 100m, rest, run 300m, rest, run 400m, rest, run 500m, rest and so on until you can do no more.
Day 14 – Run a New Route
Run somewhere you have never run before.
This is one of my favorite fun-inducing tactics.
Sometimes, all you need might be a just change of scenery.
Therefore, if you always run the same routes, or have a set of favorite ones, be sure to change it up.
Or, if this is not an option, you can always run your favorite route in the opposite direction.
Day 15 – Rest Day
This is your second recovery day. You are halfway through the challenge. Listen to your body and re-adjust your training approach accordingly.
Day 16 – Run at Night
Yes, you heard that right. Maybe this is something you have never done, and not considering to do anytime soon. And that’s why you have to try it out.
Of course, be careful with this one—especially if safety is a big concern of yours.
Therefore, to err on the side of caution, be sure to run in safe and well-lit areas while wearing reflective gear (even a headlamp if you had to).
For more safety, peer up with a running buddy or group. There is, after all, safety in numbers.
Day 17 – Start your Workout with a Dynamic Warm-up
Most people’s idea of a warm-up is about performing a few of static stretches before breaking into a running pace.
That’s so wrong as research has found that static stretching before a workout hinders performance and might lead to injury.
Instead, do a dynamic warm-up—in which you perform a set of movements that are designed to mimic the kind of motion you’ll be doing while running. Some of these dynamic warm-up moves include lunges, squats, inchworms, leg swings, and butt kicks.
For a thorough dynamic warm-up routine, check my guide here.
Day 18 – Run Naked
Leave your music, GPS and other wearable tech at home so that you can focus on the workout—undistracted by the numbers.
This is going to be a new experience—especially if you are a tech addict who is obsessed with numbers and performance measures.
When you do this, you run for the sake of running, not for achieving something or with a goal in mind.
Day 19 – Train With a Buddy.
Sure, running is a solo activity. Nonetheless, doing it with other people can help you make it much more enjoyable—especially if you have been in a running rut for the last few months.
Research has shown that those who workout with a training partner or group show more consistency and faster fitness gains over those who exercise solo.
Therefore, schedule today’s run with a training buddy or a group. Don’t have any? It’s quite easy, just ask around. Join your local running club, or look up nearby runners on meetup.com and other social media websites.
Day 20 – Run to your favorite restaurant.
Although I don’t usually recommend rewarding your hard effort by indulging in an unhealthy meal, this time, I’m making an exception.
To do this, pick a food or snack spot you’ve been dying to try, plan the running route, then run all the way there.
Or you can also prepare in advance (or order) a huge meal to feast on when you return home from your run.
Whatever you like the most go for it.
Day 21 – Try Motion Meditation
If you want to sense what it’s like to run with the mind and body in union, then consider meditating while running.
This is, indeed, a profound practice.
By doing this, you’ll be taking transcendental strides toward achieving a more focused and calm mind while running—vital for when fatigue starts to set in or when you feel like all odds are stacked against you.
In fact, I do believe that the time you spend running is perfect for meditating because of the repetitive nature of the sport.
If you don’t know how to do this, then this post on Zen Running from Leo at the Zen Habits Blog.
Day 22 – Rest Day
This is your third recovery day. You are only one week away from completing this challenge. Stay strong. Be Brave!
Day 23 – Try Trail Running
Trail running is an integral part of any training program.
Therefore, locate a nearby trail—preferably ones that cross waterways, mud or rivers—and just get in there and run. You can also sign up for any mud run or obstacle race course that happens to take place in your city.
For more on trail running, check my full guide here.
Day 24 – Try a New Running Form
I have written extensively on the importance of proper form and how to develop it when it comes to improving athletic performance and preventing injury.
Nonetheless, if you want more, then feel free to try out an alternative running.
Two of the most well-known techniques are the Chi Running and Pose Method alternative forms.
I have personally tried Chi Running, and it’s quite good—especially the keep yourself tall with a slight lean forward technique.
Maybe it’s time you try it out and see for yourself.
Day 25 – Try a Running Breathing Ratio
Try the 2:3 breathing ratio pattern. I have already shared with you guys my complete guide to breathing while running, here. Feel free to check it out if you want to learn more about how to breathe while running.
Of course, the exact breathing ratio will depend, mostly, on your running intensity and fitness level.
Nonetheless, a good breathing rhythm to try out is the 2:3 ratio.
This involves running for three steps on the inhale, then out for two steps. In for three steps, out for two steps… I think you get the big picture here.
Day 26– Do a Negative Split
Instead of keeping the same level of intensity/speed throughout your run, perform the first portion of the workout 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than your average 5K pace.
Then, once you reach the halfway mark, speed it up, and run the rest of the distance 10 to 15 second faster than your average 5K pace.
And for the last few hundred yards, go as fast as you can without fainting.
Just whatever you do, make sure to increase your speed and intensity in a gradual manner. No need to burn yourself out.
Day 27 – Run with a dog
I don’t know if you have ever tried this before, but a dog can be an excellent running partner.
Nonetheless, if you don’t already own a dog, then you might want want to ask a family member or a friend if it’s possible to start running with theirs, or better yet, invite them to join your outdoor run too.
Day 28 – Join a Running Club
If running with just one partner didn’t do the trick, then join a running club.
These clubs are freaking everywhere, and chances you are already living near one right now. Not only that, most of these clubs cost a few bucks a year and might organize a free every now and then.
The competitive sprite of a running group can encourage you to push a little bit further and harder than you’d do when you go solo.
Day 29 – Tackle a long hill
I love so hill running so much.
And will work you like nothing else.
In fact, one of the best ways to help you improve both strength and stamina is running hills on a regular basis. These are perfect lower body resistance workouts for runners.
With them, you’ll get to grow strong without hitting the weight room.
Here is how to proceed:
Find a nearby 3 to 5 miles stretch of a hilly road, then after a thorough warm-up on flat terrain, try to make it to the top of the hill in once piece.
Day 30 – Reward Yourself
This might be time to reward yourself for all the hard efforts you’ve been doing lately.
Therefore, if you have made it so far, be sure to treat yourself nicely.
Do something you enjoy. Go to the movies, go shopping, get a massage, have a long nap, Netflix your favorite show, and so.
As long as it’s something fun, go for it. You deserve it. After a whole month of hard work, the reward will serve as a reminder of what’s to come and as a way for you to trick your brain into associating pleasure with running.
That’s it, folks.
Hope you like this awesome 30-day challenge.
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Featured Image Credit – Seabamirum Via Flickr