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Running challenges for a fun and engaging New Year’s Resolution

Get 2021 started off right with these personal running challenges

It’s almost 2021, and as always, people around the world will be making New Year’s Resolutions in the coming days. This is a common practice, but the term “New Year’s Resolution” has grown to become a bit negative, as many people end up giving up on these changes by February or March. The thing is, there’s no rule that says resolutions have to be serious things that you don’t want to do. If you make your resolution fun, you’ll probably have a better chance at sticking with it as the year goes by. Here are a few fun personal running challenges you can incorporate into your regular schedule. Try one, try multiple or come up with your own. The key is to pick something you’ll enjoy.

winter running

Run streak to kick off the year

Why not try a run streak in January? You can set your own rules (such as minimum distance per run), and it can be as short or as long as you like. Whether you choose to run five days in a row or all month (or even more), this will be a great way to motivate yourself to get up and out for a workout, even on the darkest and coldest days. 

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Run every street

The total distance for this run every street challenge depends on where you live, but unless you’re from a one- or two-street town (in which case you will have no trouble completing this project), it should work out to be quite a big undertaking. Track your progress at citystrides.com, a website that will show you what percentage of local streets you have run and how much more you have to go. It can get boring running the same few routes over and over again, and this will help you break out of that cycle, make your runs more interesting and push you to discover new areas wherever you live.

Ultrarunner Jen Golbeck ran every street in the Florida Keys earlier in 2020. Photo: Twitter/jenrunswithdogs

Monthly progression

In October, Boston Marathon champion Des Linden hosted a virtual challenge called Run Destober. Throughout the entire month, Linden and challenge participants ran the number of miles (or kilometres) that corresponded with the date. On October 1, they ran one mile, the next day, they ran two miles and they continued until October 31, when they ran 31. You don’t need an official event to do this. If this sounds interesting to you, give it a shot in January, starting on New Year’s Day. 

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Everesting is mainly a cycling challenge, but some runners have tackled it, too. The challenge, which is normally completed in one go, involves running or riding up and down the same hill until you have gained 8,849m of elevation, which is the height of Mount Everest. You can certainly try doing this in one run if you want, but you can also turn it into a personal month-long challenge. Whether you complete this challenge in one day or 31, climbing close to 9K is super impressive. 

Blaine Penny and Myron Tetrault tackling Nose Hill in Calgary for a group Everesting run. Photo: Blaine Penny

Keep it simple

Your running New Year’s Resolution doesn’t have to be some big event. Instead, you can focus on something smaller. For example, decide not to hit the snooze button on your alarm at all throughout January. Every time your alarm rings, get up and go for your morning run, regardless of how tired you are. Another challenge could be never to miss a weekly strength workout, or you could promise yourself that you’ll dedicate 15 minutes to both the warmup and cooldown before and after each hard run. These are all smaller in scope than running every street in your city or trying to Everest, but they will help you develop good habits that you can carry over into the rest of 2021. 

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