Monthly running challenges and 30 day running challenges can be a great way to get your running back on track when you’re struggling to stay motivated.
Instead of focusing on a major race goal with a rigid training plan, running challenges can put the fun back into running. Do something you wouldn’t normally do and by shaking up your training up a bit you can emerge as a better runner.
This post looks at:
- What is a running challenge?
- How to start a running challenge.
- Do you need to run every day to complete a running challenge?
- Benefits of running challenges.
- 30 Day Running Challenge Ideas.
Let’s get started!
What Is A Running Challenge?
A running challenge can be anything! If you’re a complete beginner, it could be a way to start running regularly. For intermediate runners, monthly challenges can kick-start your running again if you’re losing momentum.
You can use a monthly challenge to work on particular weaknesses, practice a new race strategy, or just mix up your regular running routine.
A fun running challenge can help you explore different training methods that could end up as part of your usual running routine.
How To Start A Running Challenge?
If you’re looking to start a running challenge, the first step is figuring out what kind of challenge it will be.
What do you want to improve or change in your running routine? Or are you looking for a fun way to enhance your training motivation?
These are some typical goals for running challenges:
- Increasing your mileage.
- Improving your pacing.
- Improving running efficiency.
- Running faster.
- Becoming a stronger runner.
Of course, you don’t need to have a set goal. Sometimes running challenges can just be light-hearted ways to keep running when you’re having time out from racing.
Back-to-back racing plans where you go from one race goal to the next can sometimes lead to burnout. It’s good to have an off-season where you take a break from your normal training schedule and try something different.
To start your running challenge:
- Pick a goal or choose one of the ideas in this post.
- Set a timeline such as a monthly running challenge or 30 days.
- Decide how you’re going to track your progress – workbook, printable, on Strava.
- Record your daily progress.
Some challenges such as a running streak can be open-ended where you keep the challenge going for as long as possible. It’s normally best to set an end date when you can review your progress, and decide if you want to continue or return to your normal running program.
Do You Need To Run Every Day To Complete A Running Challenge?
A running streak, where you run every day is just one type of running challenge such as running a mile a day for 30 days. Another type of challenge could be achieving a goal within 30 days.
The Love Life Be Fit 30 Day Running Challenge For Beginners has the goal of building a running habit and helping a beginner run without stopping for 25 minutes by the end of the challenge.
The challenge is aimed at complete beginners and includes two rest days a week to let your body recover from the demands of running.
Get Results – Benefits Of Running Challenges
Running challenges work because they give you a clear and simple focus. There’s no wriggle room to miss a session.
Instead of deciding if you’ve recovered sufficiently from the previous session, you’re going to stick to the challenge and complete your workout.
With short-term running challenges, for two weeks or monthly challenges, you can push a little harder than normal to get to the end of the challenge.
30 Day Running Challenge Ideas
From running every morning to running a negative split half marathon, there are endless ideas for running challenges. Here are some ideas to get you started:
#1 Complete A Running Streak
30 days is just right for a running streak. (I’m not just saying that because my own running streak is 30 days).
Completing a running streak means running at least a mile every day. How far you run will depend on your running history. It’s best to aim for just slightly further than your typical average daily mileage.
#2 Set A New Mile Personal Record
Do you normally focus on running further? Ticking off the milestones of running a 5K, then a 10K, then a half marathon…
There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but a 30 day running challenge can be a chance to do something different by working on speed.
If you’re the sort of person who normally skips speed workouts, this challenge has your name on it. Make speed your friend and discover that all those sessions you’ve been avoiding – fartlek, hill reps, intervals – can be fun.
Follow our How To Run A Mile Faster In Just 4 Weeks Plan and you’ll be amazed by the results!
#3 Run A Different Route Every Day
Are you a runner who always runs the same routes? Having regular running routes takes the decision-making out of running, but sometimes a bit of variety can be just what you need to stay motivated.
Mix it up by running a different route every day for 30 days. It’s a great way to explore your local area and experience new places and sights. You’ll never be bored with running again!
#4 Take Up Trail Running And Train For A Trail Race
There’s a reason trail running has become so popular. You can combine your love of running with the uplifting feeling of being out in nature.
Trail running is good for you as a runner – there’s less impact on your body running on softer ground and the terrain makes your muscles work harder.
For this 30 day running challenge, enter a trail race and start training. A 10K trail race is a good distance for your first race.
Train for your race by running on trails at least once a week and work on strengthening your legs and ankles by running up hills, adding bodyweight exercises to your routine, and using a wobble cushion.
#5 Enter Every Local Race Or Running Event In Your Area
Local races and running events can be huge fun and they need your support! Try entering all the races and local events that take place in your area in 30 days.
You can adjust the area to suit and make up your own rules such as no more than one race a day or only races up to 10K in distance – it’s up to you.
Many people find entering local races a bit daunting. By entering lots of events in one go it will help to overcome the fear factor.
When you run several races a week you can’t expect to “race” all of them. You’ll need to run some at an easy training pace. Instead, it’s a chance to be sociable, be part of the local running community and have fun mixing with other runners!
#6 Run Every Morning
This is a variation on the running streak challenge for people who don’t do mornings!
Not everyone bounces out of bed in the morning and is naturally an early riser. The idea that being a morning person makes you better than everyone else is a bit lame.
However, there are some big advantages to running in the early morning. It gets your run out of the way before the distractions of the day take over and it’s a quiet time with less traffic.
Often races are held in the morning, so knowing your body can cope with running early can be a big help on race day.
Some tips to get you out of bed for a morning run are going to bed on time and laying out your kit the night before. It’s best to keep the distance short if you’re not a natural morning person – run one mile a day or two miles a day for 30 days.
When I took the challenge I ran two miles in the morning and sometimes added a second run later in the day.
#7 Run 5K In Sub-30 Minutes Or Sub-25 Minutes
Just like the challenge of setting a new mile PR, improving your 5K time is a chance to work on your speed. You could just aim for a 5K PR but hitting a target time will take your training up a notch.
Two typical goals are sub-30 minute 5K and sub-25 minute 5K. Running a 5K in sub-30 minutes is a good goal for new runners and older athletes. For more experienced runners, running a sub-25 minute 5K can feel like the holy grail.
Instead of thinking these times are beyond your reach, work out how fast you need to run a mile and start running weekly 400m intervals slightly faster than your target race pace.
For young and strong runners, a sub-20 min 5K is an excellent target!
#8 Strength Train Every Day
Strength training is one of the best ways of improving your running speed, your running endurance and making your body less prone to injury. Being a strong runner will make you more resilient as you get older.
The normal advice is to add 2 to 3 strength training sessions to your weekly training routine. This challenge expects you to strength train every day!
This is a challenge for the off-season. For when you’re ticking over with your running instead of training for your next event. Strength training is tiring, so you could be running on dead legs until you get stronger. So it’s best to complete the sessions after your runs.
If you try and strength train your whole body every day you’ll wake up in the mornings unable to move. Instead, each day work on a different body part.
For example rotating between arms, legs, and core.
Aim for 10 to 15 minutes of strength training a day and by the end of 30 days, you’ll be amazed by the results.
#9 Complete A Running Everesting Challenge In 30 Days
This is a great monthly running challenge for runners who love to push themselves.
Everesting in its simplest form is finding a suitable hill and ascending and descending the hill as quickly as possible until you’ve climbed the height of Everest. That’s a total of 29029 feet or 8848m
There are two ways of completing this challenge:
- Spend all month training and complete an Everest challenge at the end of the month.
- Run a total of 29029 feet over 30 days – that’s an average of 968 feet (295m) per day.
Just running 29029 feet in elevation over 30 days is a massive challenge for most people. You’re going to build some strong running legs.
It’s best to allow plenty of rest days when you’re running up hills. The best way to tackle this challenge is to run 1935 feet (590m) every other day. That’s 15 days of hard running and 15 days of rest in your 30-day challenge period.
#10 Run A Negative Split Half Marathon
If you’re the type of runner who always starts a race too fast, this challenge has your name on it! It’s a great way to improve your running pacing.
Running a negative split means that the second half of your run is faster than the first half. For example, if you’re aiming for a sub-2 hour half marathon, you might run the first half in 63 minutes and the second half in 56 minutes.
It takes a cool head and a lot of confidence to run a negative split. It’s best to attempt a negative split on a half marathon where you’re not too competitive. The results may surprise you!
The best way to train for negative splits is with progression runs. A progression run is where you start off running at a relatively easy pace and every mile or kilometer progressively gets faster.
Thoughts From Love Life Be Fit
Monthly running challenges are a great way to help you stay motivated as a runner and take a break from your standard training plans. I’ve always found a running challenge makes me think differently about my running and helps to improve my running in ways I’ve previously overlooked.
Most of all 30-day running challenges are about having fun and keeping your running enjoyable. You can complete a running challenge with a group of runners or use a challenge to tick off your race bucket list. There are endless ways to use challenges to keep your running interesting.