It is the end of summer, and my favorite fall weather is on the way! While I don’t miss paying tuition, I do miss back to school shopping…maybe I’ll treat myself to a new backpack. If you’re not training for a fall marathon, or if you had to drop out of the marathon you hoped you’d run (darned COVID-19), the end of summer is the perfect time to seek out a new challenge. This year it seems like everyone and their brother is hosting a fall charity challenge. I’ve gathered up a few of them that might interest you (and maybe your dog, too?).
The Challenge: 10,000 steps per day
The Cause: Funds raised during support Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF), the foremost nonprofit in the world focusing on research and innovation for cerebral palsy.
The Cause: Stop Soldier Suicide provides a proactive approach, meeting individuals where they are. The team provides personalized care and continued case management, with met health support, housing assistance, resources, and referrals among other services.
The Cause: End hunger. Funds raised go to Feeding America, which delivers more than 4 billion meals each year to people facing hunger in communities across the country; they are continuing to meet the increased need brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic
The Cause: Funds raised go to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network which provides support and education to individuals facing pancreatic cancer, and leads large-scale, groundbreaking research initiatives to change the way pancreatic cancer is detected and treated
The Challenge: run, walk, or cycle with others to reach one million miles
The Cause: Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s mission is to change the lives of children with cancer through funding impactful research, raising awareness, supporting families, and empowering everyone to help cure childhood cancer.
The Cause: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the largest funder of cutting-edge research to advance cures. LLS is the leader in advancing breakthroughs in immunotherapy, genomics, and personalized medicine.
The Cause: September is Muscular Dystrophy awareness month. A caring and concerned group of families started Muscular Dystrophy Association in 1950, and continues to relentlessly pursue their promise to transform the lives of people living with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related neuromuscular diseases, through research, care and advocacy.
The Cause: “Riding to fight kids’ cancer.” Funds raised go to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, a national nonprofit dedicated to ending childhood cancer. Since 1981 CCRF has contributed over $200 million to research, support programs for children and families, and education and awareness outreach.
The Cause: Epilepsy Foundation of America supports the more than 3.4 million people living with epilepsy by funding epilepsy research and providing education including but not limited to seizure recognition and first aid training.
Most of us are looking at another month or more of “Stay At Home”–I’m in through July 6, at a minimum–and races throughout Oregon and SW Washington (and the rest of Washington, for that matter) are cancelled. California races are cancelled. Pretty much all the races are cancelled. That’s okay because running is NOT cancelled, camaraderie among runners is NOT cancelled, and swag and bragging rights are NOT cancelled. If you’ve never connected to the running community on social media, now is the perfect time to join a virtual challenge. Motivate to run/walk/wog/whatever those miles by connecting with a challenge or a virtual run club. Unlike a virtual race (which happens once, you probably do it by yourself, and maybe you forget?) a challenge or a virtual rub club is ongoing support and a reminder to get off the couch!
The Original Edition
Run The Year. “Virtual” since the start! You can choose to literally “run the year” (2020 miles or kilometers), alone or as part of a team, or you can choose your own goal. For the Basic fee of $25, you get access to an easy-to-use mileage tracker (it lets you separate out walking and running and “other” miles), a private facebook group (plus a regional facebook group–once the virus ends, we can meet new runners at local meetups!), and a mileage guide. Upgrade to the Deluxe package for $39 to score a medal, legacy coin, and mileage tracking poster (it’s color-by-number-of-miles!). If you want to Get It All, spend $59 for all that and a bag of chips I mean a sublimated Run the Year tech shirt. See all of your options at https://shop.runtheedge.com/pages/run-the-year-2020 and don’t forget to join the Uncanceled Project (it’s free!)–your race on your day–to get those sweet custom photo bibs I know you’ve seen on Insta.
I’ve been a member of Run The Year since it started. My favorite aspect of this group is that ALL runners are welcome. This isn’t a club about being speedy–though there are speedy members. There are walkers, too. There are people brand new to any kind of exercise, and people who regularly take home trophies. It’s an encouraging space. Last year I volunteered to lead the Portland-area Facebook group, and I met some great people. Plus I’m apparently still a child and I love coloring in my poster.
The Ridiculous Edition
The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000k. If you’re really into running, like to the point where you read about other people running, look up stuff online about running, or like to hear “war stories” from really crazy serious runners, you’ve probably heard of the Barkley Marathons, aka “the race that eats its young” according to the documentary subtitle. (Trailer on YouTube, film on a variety of platforms.) Despite the fact that few people enter and almost no one finishes, making it almost automatic social distancing, the race is off this year. So race director Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell came up with something else: The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. It’s a mere $60 and you have from May 1 to August 31 to run 1000k BUT the miles only count if you cover them AFTER you sign up (and that’s run, walk, treadmill miles) https://runsignup.com/Race/TN/Memphis/TheGreatVirtualRaceAcrossTennessee1000K
Now why on earth would I, a banana slug of a “runner,” who hasn’t done 50 miles to date this year, sign up for #GVRAT1000? I think back to my earlier running days, when I lived in California, and some of my friends were telling me about The Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World: run a half marathon Saturday, and a full marathon on Sunday. My reaction? “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of!” So when The Dopey Challenge premiered a few years later, I signed right up. Maybe this time I hope to learn some geography? Call it the Go Big Or Go Home principle, if you will, but there’s some magic in publicly declaring that you are going to do an insane thing. Also, it’s find of fun to do the impossible. Take it from Bib #14066. 18,000+ runners in 68 countries can’t be wrong!
P.S. if that’s not enough, perhaps your pooch can motivate you? There’s a separate division for doggos! The cost is half of the human registration (Laz says it is half as hard to run that far on four legs) and 100% of proceeds will go to animal shelters in Tennessee. So grab your pupper and go!
The Local (As I Define It) Edition
At the outset of this section, if you have the resources to support your local running club, local running store, and local race directors, PLEASE DO IT. I know many of you have lost your jobs or lost some income that makes this impossible; to you, I say go forth and shamelessly apply for every running “scholarship” there is for your local runs: then get to doing it, talking about it, and wearing the local swag. I recently read an article about coffee that mused after all this is over, Starbucks might be the last roaster standing. (Blog post forthcoming.) PLEASE DO NOT LET THAT HAPPEN TO RUNNING. While big, national “road show” type races are fun, local races give back more to your community. The money almost all stays close to home (to pay vendors, suppliers, and for security, etc.), and almost every race gives some amount of the entry fees to a local charity. A smaller local race can happen in a town that can’t support a marathon of 20,000 which means more runs in more places.
SF Virtual Run Club. California is where I really started running, and Run Club was my first stab at running with people on a somewhat regular basis outside of races. Usually it’s an in-person thing, with a short run and a cross-training workout during the week, and a long run on the weekend, plus plenty of social time. Runners are often training for, or “targeting” the same SF Bay Area race. This year? We’re going the distance, at a distance. The virtual summer season starts May 16 but you can join late if you’d like. http://www.sanfranciscorunningclub.com/
Reigning Roses Walk. This annual event is the main fundraiser for Rose Haven, a women’s day center in Portland that receives no federal funding. Rose Haven provides services to women, children, and gender-nonconforming individuals to achieve self-sustainability, with dignity and respect. The programs include medical, access to showers, mail service, and classes. Reigning Roses was never a run. Instead it was a sort of parade, with participants carrying jaunty umbrellas and live music. While social distancing and anti-gathering rules currently in place make it unsafe to hold the event this year, and there is a virtual version, I’m betting participation will be down. That would suck, because Rose Haven does great work and it’s likely even more women will need help in the wake of COVID-19. https://www.makeitreign.org/event/reigning-roses-2020/e275129
The Environmentally Friendly Edition
Griffith Park Virtual Re-Run. What happens to all those race shirts and medals when the race is over? I know some races will sell them next year as “vintage.” The Race for Warmth uses the shirts for people who late register the next year (so if your size is unavailable, you get last year’s shirt). The people that direct the Griffith Park Run had a better idea: let’s make a new race to use them up! You sign up for 6k, 8k, or 12k and run by May 24th. You get a random shirt, medal, and bib from a prior run, a Gu product, and a Re-Run sticker. $5 of your entry fee goes to the L.A. Emergency COVID-19 Crisis Fund, organized by The Mayor’s Fund of Los Angeles. At only $22.50 (which includes your swag mailed to you), it’s a bargain that also does good (both by repurposing ace swag, and supporting the LA community). Register: https://runsignup.com/Race/CA/LosAngeles/GriffithParkVirtualReRun
Brazen Racing Retro Remote. I learned about this one right after I hit “go” on the original post. Brazen Racing is a much-loved trail race group in California; die-hards who run each of the 20+ events in a year become “Streakers” and receive official numbers at the end of the season. Brazen has pulled ONE medal from each of their prior events to make this happen. As the website explains, “Those participating will have the opportunity to choose which one of those medals they want to get mailed for their virtual race package. Every medal sent out as part of this event will be unique and the medals are available on a first-come/first-serve basis. If you want to know what each medal looks like, you’ll have to do some searching around as even we’re not sure where/if pictures exist for every single one! Or you can just pick an event medal from a certain year and be surprised.” Distances include 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, 30K and 50K (the normal Brazen distances) and you can run solo or with a team. “The goal is to at least start your run by May 16th, but there are no strict rules here. We’re just trying to celebrate the good times we’ve had and the good times to come!” https://brazenracing.com/retroremote/
The National Edition
Even though I’d strongly encourage you to run local and support your local race directors and charities first, I have to give a nod to the national series races which are also not happening.
Zooma Run Club. Zooma specializes in women’s destination races, and this is a women’s run club. Sorry gents! Set your own mileage goal for the year (250 to 2500) and get swagged when you bag it. Zooma will also have giveaways, in addition to a private Facebook group, a Strava club, and more. If you join now, you get inaugural member status (which makes it sound like this club is here to stay, even past the Stay At Home era). Price: free option, swag packages at $65 (before June 1) or $75 (after June 1). You have the option to add-on more swag (hats, jackets, etc.) and the summer challenge for an additional fee. What can I say? The hoodie was really cute… https://zoomarun.com/zooma-run-club?
Rock ‘n’ Roll Virtual Run Club. Price: free, though completing a challenge gives you the option to buy finisher swag, and there’s some sort of points system (no idea what the points are for yet). Personally I have given up on this one, as the recording platform that Rock ‘n’ Roll chose to use cannot connect to Strava, and they do not connect to Coros. NO STRAVA? What the what? True story. Sport Heroes, the platform Rock ‘n’ Roll chose to use, can only connect to the following apps: Garmin, Polar, Suunto, FitBit, Nike+, Runtastic, Map My Run, Runkeeper, Health Mate, Rouvy, Decathlon Coach, TomTom, and Movescout. The only one of these apps I use is FitBit. (I also use Strava, Coros, and Charity Miles. I do NOT need to use another app just so I can do a Rock ‘n’ Roll virtual.) While the FitBit app recognizes “activities,” and Sport Heroes can import all the data, the RnR VRC will only recognize an activity if you set your FitBit to “run” before you go run. Sadly, this is not stated anywhere in the RnR VRC materials, so I missed out on the first VR 5k–I signed up and ran 5k, but didn’t push the special button on the FitBit, so it did not count. BTW no explanation from Rock ‘n’ Roll even after I filled out the feedback form, mystified that I’d run 5k but RnR VRC showed zero miles–I had to find this out from a savvier friend! So for the second week I pushed the button to start and end a run. You might think this fixed the problem, but you’d be wrong. Turns out my FitBit and my Coros had slightly different data, so FitBit said I did 9.82k and not 10k. As a result, RnR did not recognize my finish (so no badge, etc.) though I did get 99 points (whatever that is?) for the week. The Sport Heroes explanation for why they don’t connect to Strava is lame, and frankly sounds like it was written by a whiny, overprivileged, teenager who is used to getting away with whatever they want. It also contradicts Strava’s statement, and I’ve got a solid, multi-year relationship with Strava, and trust them. Strava’s explanation is short and sweet: Sport Heroes aggregates Strava data with no transparency about it, in violation of Strava’s rules. So if YOU are interested in attempting a Rock ‘n’ Roll Virtual Run Club event, you can give it a whirl. I’m out.
The Sponsored Edition
Honey Stinger 50 Mile Challenge. This is a challenge you sign up for directly on the Strava app. (Why couldn’t Rock ‘n’ Roll just use Strava? So easy, free for everyone.) If you’re not familiar with Strava, it’s a great place to connect with other runners, and with running brands. Honey Stinger is one of the companies that encourages runners on Strava by hosting a run club, and sponsoring various challenges. Head to the Strava challenge page to sign up. Finish 50 miles in the month of May and score a badge for your Strava profile plus a pack of the brand new Honey Stinger Plus Chews. Fifty lucky participants will also score a race kit (though there are 189,000+ people signed up so it’s a bit like the lottery).
If you’re not familiar with Honey Stinger, OMG go check them out! My favorite products are the caramel waffles (they also have gluten-free options) and the caffeinated cherry cola chews. Pro tip: to avoid crushing your waffles, use medical tape to affix 1-2 waffles to the back of your race bib. (Medical tape is cheap, will hold the waffle in place flat, and is easy to rip off the bib without any damage.)
The UnderDog Edition
The Ordinary Marathon. Scott Rieke, aka the Ordinary Marathoner, started this ten-day event three years ago. This year, it runs (pun!) from May 8 to May 17. Every year, runners from all over run their miles (maybe a marathon, maybe not!) during the course (pun!) of the race and connect on social media. The photos later become part of the #OrdinaryMarathon slide show video. There are daily prizes, too. Entry fees also support a charitable donation to help pets ind a “furever” home. This year the optional in-person 5k isn’t happening, but that’s not stopping the event. It’s an Ordinary Marathon because anyone can do 26.2 over the course of 10 days–even you! $30 to register, includes a medal and treats, shirt is optional extra. http://www.ordinarymarathon.com/
What are you running in May?
Know a great race that had to go virtual due to the virus? Got a run club that’s “meeting” online? Drop a link to the registration page with your comment!
On the Seventh Day of Christmas, I encourage you to choose a fitness challenge for January. (Yes, the Seventh Day of Christmas. go look it up if you don’t believe me!)
January is one of the biggest months for fitness and workout challenges! Lots of gyms, studios, and boutique fitness locations host a January challenge to encourage people to start to build healthy habits to back their New Year’s resolutions. For example, Gold’s Gym has a 12-week challenge for gym members only. Some OrangeTheory Fitness locations will start their transformation challenges in January. And it’s not just the big chains and franchises: a quick google search led me to wish I lived in Charleston, South Carolina so I could do the Ignite 2019 challenge at This Time Fitness.
Online Fitness Challenges Work Just As Well
Personally, I find that a fitness challenge is a great way to help me stay on track, and you don’t have to belong to a gym or studio to participate. One of the groups I managed on Facebook has had lots of success with a monthly-themed challenge. If you prefer to work out at home, want to save money, or you just live too far from any facility offering a challenge, there are LOADS of options. The same goes for not starting in January. Maybe you’re moving house, changing jobs, having a baby, or otherwise just not down with January. Many sites with streaming content, such as Yoga International, have all sorts of options that you can start any time you want!
In general, an online or virtual workout challenge will include (1) a workout plan or template, (2) a qualified professional (e.g. for a running challenge, a coach with Revo2lution Running, RRCA, or USATF certification), (3) a Facebook group or other forum for chatting with other participants, and (4) prizes (maybe). Not every challenge includes all of these items, and some may include more–videos, printables, etc. Depending on the challenge’s rules, you might be required to check in each day, submit photos, or provide measurements–but don’t let that stop you. MANY challenges don’t have any requirements, and you can play along with any challenge by doing the workout even if you don’t submit materials to win prizes.
I’m collecting up all the challenges I can find to share with you–pick one and jump right in! (There’s still plenty of time to choose and get ready!)
Run the Year 2019
Website: https://runtheedge.com/run-the-year-2019/ Challenge: Run 2019 Miles (or your choice of miles) alone, or as part of a team Led by: Run The Edge (Adam Goucher, Tim Catalano, and friends) Start/Duration: January 1 to December 31, 2019 Cost/Discount: $25, $37, $57 (depends on swag pack selected) $3 discount if you use my affiliate link: http://runtheedgestore.refr.cc/elizabethbain Content: Basic package includes access to the tracker (online/mobile), RTY 2019 Mileage Guide and plan, private Facebook groups, access to RTY FIT (a community for planning meet-ups) and local/regional Facebook groups. I expect there will be some fun monthly challenges as well! Swag: Upgrade to Deluxe to add a Challenge Medal, Legacy Coin for 2019, a mileage tracking poster and stickers. Upgrade to Get It All to add a hi-tech challenge shirt. Disclosure: I have done this challenge every year it has existed, and I collect the Legacy Coins. I am the Lead FITster for Portland, Oregon and the moderator of the related Facebook group. If enough people use my affiliate link, I get credit to use in the Run The Edge store.
Website:https://www.blogilates.com/100abchallenge-begins-jan-1st-you-in/ Challenge: Perform 100 reps of a specific Pilates abs exercise every day Led by: Cassey Ho, aka Blogilates Start/Duration: January 1 to January 31 Cost/Discount: Free Content: Printable calendar of exercises, daily video of each exercise performed by Cassey. (If you haven’t checked out the Blogilates YouTube channel, you should! There are free workouts in the app, too. Plus if you subscribe to the newsletter, every month there is a new workout calendar–free–with a theme or focus.) There is a designated hashtag for social media posting/community Swag: None (but it’s FREE) Disclosure: I’m a huge fan of Cassey. Nicest most real-deal Pilates instructor I have ever had the pleasure to meet.
30-Day Be a Better You Challenge
Website:https://grokker.com/individuals Challenge: choose from four challenge options (mindfulness, healthy eating, fitness, yoga) Led by: Various instructors on grokker Start/Duration: January 2 to January 31, 2019 Cost/Discount: Free if you are new to grokker, with a 37-day trial period (but after January 31, access to grokker is $14.99/month OR you can choose to pre-pay a year at $9.99/month OR you can cancel) Content: 30 videos selected by the grokker team (but you also have access to all of the other videos on grokker during your trial) Swag: Four winners who accrue more than 100 points will receive an an Apple TV; winners selected via raffle/random drawing from all eligible participants Disclosure: I signed up for the yoga challenge–why not? I’ve never tried grokker. (Look for a review sometime later…)
The Barre3 January Challenge
Website: https://barre3.com/januarychallenge Challenge: Follow the barre3 and Headspace Mindfulness Plan Led by: instructors from barre3 (including founder Sadie!) and Headspace Start/Duration: January 7 to February 3, 2019 Cost/Discount: $29 online OR $99 in studio Content: Online option: unlimited access to 500+ Barre3 classes online (auto-renews on February 4, 2019 unless you cancel) OR Studio option: unlimited Barre3 classes in studio and free unlimited access to Barre3 online. Both options include one free month of the Headspace app, the Mindfulness Plan, and daily email with the daily plan. Swag: None. You can purchase optional equipment (light hand weights, yoga mat, resistance band, core sliders, core ball) when you register. Disclosure: I’ve enrolled in this challenge twice…and never actually finished it. Oops. Of all of the barre-based workouts, Barre3 is in my top two for quality of instruction and programming, and for being rooted in the science of movement. Unlike so many other barre-based workouts, this one won’t send you straight to the chiropractor!
Whole Life Challenge
Website: https://www.wholelifechallenge.com Challenge: Commit to seven habits, every day, for six weeks. Led by: Andy Petranek, Michael Stanwyck, and the WLC team Start/Duration: January 19 to March 1, 2019 (additional challenges start in April, July, and September) Cost/Discount: $39 for new players, $29 for returning players; $89 Annual Membership (four challenges) Content: “The Whole Life Challenge is a six-week online, community-building, habit-changing game that challenges you to create a happier, healthier life by making small changes to your daily habits. Playing along with your friends, and family, you’ll score points every day, focusing on seven key areas of health and well-being: nutrition, exercise, mobilization, sleep, hydration, lifestyle practices, and reflection.” Swag: Swag includes use of the app to track points, the Whole Self Assessment, and the online community. There are no prizes. The website includes free e-books you can read before you start. Disclosure: I have zero personal experience with this one. A friend of mine who does shift work has, and he mentioned being disappointed that the app tracked the day as ending at a certain time, causing him to “lose” some days.
30-Day Get Strong in 2019 Challenge
Website:https://www.livestrong.com/article/1012163-30day-slim-down-challenge/ (blog post/preview) https://www.livestrong.com/get-strong-challenge/ (signup) Challenge: 30 days of exercises and nutrition (new healthy recipes to try out) Led by: Workouts by Jordan Shalhoub, other content by the Livestrong.com team Start/Duration: January 2 Cost/Discount: Free Content: Daily email with a workout, recipes, motivational memes, playlist, and tips and advice. In addition to daily-themed workouts, and a healthy tip for each day, each week also has a health goal. Challengers have access to a Facebook group just for challengers. Swag: None Disclosure: I have no experience with this challenge.
Fit Chicks 28-Day Challenge
Website:https://www.fitchicks.ca/challenge Challenge: Daily workouts and nutrition plans for women to build habits Led by: Laura Jackson, founder of Fit Chicks Start/Duration: January 1 to January 31 Cost/Discount: $297 (though the website showed me a $97 offer) Content: 28 workouts under 30 minutes, 50 exercise tutorials, 8 streaming workouts, meal plans (vegan and vegetarian options available) with grocery lists, 45 simple recipes, healthy lifestyle videos, daily email motivation, Facebook group, private members site, email support. Swag: None (that I know of); additional purchases offered at a discount Disclosure: I have no experience with this challenge; I thought a challenge for women only might appeal to some of my friends. The challenge page has some video workout previews.
The Self Challenge
Website:https://www.self.com/join/sign-up-new-years-challenge Challenge: workouts and fit tips, including suggested meal plans Led by: contributors to Shape Start/Duration: January 2, 2019 Cost/Discount: Free Content: a workout plan, meal plans, nutrition tips, and more via email. Facebook group to talk all things challenge. Swag: None, but there are prizes. Sweepstakes prizes include a vacation at the Grand Fiesta American a Coral Beach. Disclosure: True confession, I have a soft spot for this challenge, which I first participated in way back in the 1990s. This year’s program includes 20 new bodyweight workouts, daily emails with motivation and advice, a Facebook group.
Gixo #FitForward Challenge
Website: Use Alyse’s affiliate link to get your free first week Challenge: I’m fuzzy on the details right now, but I bet it’s a month of workouts and sharing on social! Led by: Gixo trainers Start/Duration: January 1 Cost/Discount: first week is free, then $19.99/month (or $14.99/month if you pre-pay a year) Content: live audio and video classes via the Gixo app. These are NOT pre-recorded videos you can play over and over, but a live class, with an instructor teaching in real time, and other classmates sweating right there with you. Swag: Unknown at this time–I’ll update as I learn more! Disclosure: While I am not (yet?) a Gixo subscriber, I am a Sweat Pink ambassador, and Sweat Pink has an ongoing relationship with Gixo.
Lululemon 40/80 Challenge
Website:https://www.strava.com/challenges/lululemon-40-80-challenge-2019 Challenge: Run 40k or 80k in the first two weeks of the year Led by: YOU! Start/Duration: January 2 to January 15, 2019 Cost/Discount: Free (Strava’s premium membership, Summit, is optional; pricing varies–an “all three pack” is $5/month when you pre-pay a year) Content: Go run! Use Strava to record your runs, or use a device (such as Vi) that connects with Strava. Swag: Unknown–it’s a surprise every year. Last year there was a discount code good for online or in-store purchases. Also, you get a badge in the Strava app. Disclosure: I’ve run this one, and am signed up for 2019. If you are training for a race, like to run with friends, or already track your miles, go for it!
New Year Yoga Reboot Challenge
Website:https://www.yogadownload.com/Challenge.aspx Challenge: 3o minutes of yoga for 30 days Led by: rotating instructors on the YogaDownload platform Start/Duration: January 2 to January 131, 2019 Cost/Discount: $12 for one month of unlimited access to Yoga Download ($30 for three months, $90 for a year; all are cancel at any time) Content: A curated selection of “reset” and “reboot” yoga videos. Log in each day, do that day’s video, and then leave a comment about how it went. NOTE: if you like the idea of a daily yoga challenge but the idea of “reboot” doesn’t do it for you, Yoga Download also has a variety of other challenges (e.g. 5-Day Evening Yoga, 2-Week Yoga for Busy People, etc.). Swag: Unknown–there is a grand prize package, but I haven’t scoped it out. Disclosure: I’ve had a Yoga Download membership for years, so I’m in!
In your neighborhood. Since January is absolutely the most popular challenge month, there are literally dozens of other options. Check the website for your local gym, yoga space, cycling studio, or boutique fitness class for special class packs and challenges.
Happy 2017!! After a holiday season filled with parties, errands, travel, and year-end work-related projects, starting the new year strong can seem like a challenge in itself–what’s the plan? What workout will you do? What will you eat? While I definitely recommend having a plan, sometimes it can be easier to start out with a ready-made plan.
If you’re ready but not sure where to start, here are a few challenges to start your year. This isn’t an exhaustive list, it’s just what has come across my desk, and it isn’t in any particular order. Some challenges are free, others have a fee; some are just for January, others you can join at any time. There are challenges based on running, yoga, pilates, group ex, or solo workouts. Pick a challenge and get a jump on it!
Note: NONE of the links below are affiliate links.
Details:FREE. This is a challenge for everyone, at any level, to get more engaged and help build fitness and a support community. Follow SweatPink on twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget the hashtags. If you are a SweatPink ambassador, be sure to login to the FitApproach website. (If you’re a blogger or active on social media, why not apply to be a SweatPink ambassador?)
January 1-8: #IAMEMPOWERED Sweat Pink Community Kickoff!
January 9-13: #EB2017Goals #IAMEMPOWERED healthy cooking with Eggland’s Best!
January 16-20: #BuildYourBestBody #IAMEMPOWERED fitness challenge with Hedstrom Fitness!
January 21-31: #IAMEMPOWERED #FFYHIITYOGA 10 days of HIIT Yoga challenge with Flex & Flow Yoga!
Details: start with a FREE 30-day trial to Daily Burn. (Using this link also gets you 25% off the next month of Daily Burn, and 25% off a Spartan Race.) This is a new collaboration presenting home-based workouts based on the SGX, Spartan’s official training philosophy. There are variations for beginning, intermediate, and advanced fitness levels, and membership also gives you access to all of the Daily Burn videos. (Note: I’m in love with the yoga hip sequence!)
Details: Sign up to get the month of January for FREE. Once you have signed up, you get to choose a challenge. There are options for a variety of fitness levels. For every workout completed, grokker will make a donation to charity. (After January, a grokker subscription is $14.99/month starting on February 2, 2017; you can cancel at any time).
Details: $99 for the 30 Day Transformation Kit (your choice of Buti Yoga DVD set, meal plan, and samples of Golden Ratio protein [not vegetarian/vegan] with a discount code if you decide to buy a canister; one month free streaming access). There are DVD options for beginners and experienced Buti practitioners–check the website for details. Buti is awarding prizes: a ticket to a Buti retreat (not including transportation) and a year-long digital subscription. To enter, finish the 30 days by February 15 and share your transformation story with Buti. Also: Bizzie Gold is running a separate Sustainable Transformation Group that kicks off on January 4.
Details:FREE. Six months of workouts and an optional Facebook group. Their description: “Strong, Fast, and Fit” —a six-part program with multiple, progressive, adaptable-to-you workouts and detailed coaching. This is appropriate for all levels.
Details: Sign up to run 2,017 miles (solo or with friends—you can sign up and find or create a team later.) The Basic Registration costs $25 and gives you access to monthly challenged hosted by Kara Goucher, weekly prize giveaways, access to a Facebook group for support, and a Mileage Tracker, among other things. Optional swag includes a Run The Year 2017 medal, monthly challenged poster, Milestone yearbook, and Run the Year 2017 shirt. (Wear the shirt to events to meet other participants!)
Details: There are two options this year. One, run/walk 1000 miles. Two, run/walk/exercise 100 days. Registration costs vary, depending on which package you choose, and includes an activity tracker (this one allows you to import from apps and trackers like MapMyRun and Strava). There is also a social component, so you can celebrate your progress and cheer on your friends.
Details: POP Pilates creator Cassey Ho has a variety of FREE pilates challenges that target different muscle groups. If you’re looking for year-long motivation, sign up for her email list–each month you will unlock a different workout calendar, using videos available online.
Details: FREE with optional subscription. YogaDownload describes the challenge: “The challenge is free to join and available to all YogaDownload members, but you can get the most out of the challenge by signing up for one of our memberships which you can order at a discounted price [codes on the website, pricing starts at $12/month]. You’ll get daily emails with your yoga classes, inspiration, an amazing suite of wellness prizes you can win and be supported by a strong community of likeminded practitioners sharing this experience from all over the world.”
Details: this is a guided challenge that starts January 9 (so you’ve got time to plan and get ready!) This four week challenge includes 5 workouts/week, a guided meal plan, and access to the wellness experts (including barre3 founder Sadie Lincoln and Dr. Frank Lipman) in the B3 online community. There is a recommended workout schedule, but you have access to new workouts each week, plus the barre3 online library. Options: do the challenge at your local barre3 studio, OR online. (Subscription prices: $29/monthly, $162 for 6 months; $300/year [$25/month]).
Details:FREE. From the website, “It’s a New Year! Let’s use this fresh start to re-affirm our yoga practice. Join us for a brand new 30 for 30 Challenge, where you will receive all the motivation you need to reboot or revitalize your practice. Sign up today and receive a hand-picked 30-minute class each day for the next 30 days, delivered directly to your inbox. These half-hour classes feature a wide variety of teachers, styles, and sequences, and are sure to keep you motivated and inspired to practice each day.” You can stream online, or through the mobile app. Also: Yoga International is hosting a six month meditation challenge for YI members. (There is a free 30-day trial membership available.)
Details: You’ve probably seen the BeachBody Challenge as part of infomercials for the workouts. Forget the DVDs. BeachBody has a “New Year’s Special” on their streaming service (which is available online and through devices such as Roku); you can get an entire year for under $100. For those doing the math, that’s $8.33/month, aka cheaper than a Planet Fitness membership. That includes access to all existing workouts, and the new ones as they drop. (Entry to the challenge is free and optional.) I am no longer a BeachBody coach, but I’d be happy to answer your questions.
If you prefer to get your workouts live, there are a ton of options. (I’m willing to bet your local gym or fitness studio is hosting a January challenge, at a minimum!) Here are a few that I know about that are happening nationwide:
FlyWheel is hosting a “FLY into 2017: New Year, Real Results 4-Week Challenge.” The challenge includes 5 weekly credits for Flywheel and/or FlyBarre classes (20 credits total, and the expire at the end of the program!), Early Booking, nutrition plan, home workouts to supplement your studio classes, and community support. (The link is my referral link–it lets FlyWheel know I sent you.)
OrangeTheory studios are hosting “The Ultimate Weight Loss Challenge.” To learn more about it, visit your local OrangeTheory or fill out this form onlinefor more details. (If you go, tell them I sent you?)
2017 Road Running Challenges
Prefer to challenge yourself via running events? Check out the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series! Try a “Remix Challenge” by running two events in the same weekend (e.g. a 5k Saturday and a 10k or half on Sunday). My 2016 Rock ‘n’ Blog discount code is good on some 2017 races, so give it a try (code: TRAINWITHBAIN). In California, you can earn some mega-bling through the California Half and Full Series races. Run 4, 7, 10, 15, or 20 series races to score that sweet challenge medal–the more you run, the bigger the bling!
There are plenty of other challenges out there. Are you signed up for a challenge? Did I miss your favorite? Let me know!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary bib to run The Double Your Luck Challenge because I am a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro here.Find and write race reviews at BibRave.com All opinions in this review are my own. (There is no “sponsored content” or advertorial here!)
While I originally planned to show up Friday night so I could check out the Sin City Shootout opening night parties after I picked up my packet, my elderly cat has been refusing to eat and is now on steroids…combine that with the week I was just out of town for the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge, and I didn’t want to leave the poor meow alone for more than a night. So I flew in Saturday evening. While the Tropicana was the official host hotel for the Sin City events, I had a friend in town who already had a room at Harrah’s, and I love me some free crash space. The main advantage of packet pickup on Friday is the ability to purchase the special Sin City Shootout mug, which comes with a slew of drink specials at the various affiliated parties over the weekend. There was no pickup Saturday, and I wasn’t about to go out drinking the night before a race, so no parties for me!
I got up early Sunday and went down to hail a cab. The one thing I disliked about this event is that there was no transportation provided, and facebook group or other way to arrange a ride share. The Sin City Shootout host hotel is the Tropicana, though I stayed at nearby Harrah’s. My taxi out to the event cost around $30, and I wasn’t the only one who took a taxi—it would have been nice to have a way to coordinate rides. Some people did drive, but since I was just staying overnight the cost of a car rental was crazy. There was ample free parking right by the start/finish, so locals scored a great deal.
While I had planned an hour before the race for packet pickup, I think it took more like 10 minutes. There was a line, but it moved rapidly. The Sin City Run packets were small but mighty! I really like it when a race packet has minimal paper (like flyers and stuff) and only runner-related items. Packets contained your race bib, a discount on EnergyBits, samples of gummy vitamins, Clif Bar minis, and samples of BioFreeze, in addition to safety pins. Unfortunately I didn’t get to pick up my shirt because two of the boxes of shirts were stuck on a UPS truck somewhere, so I’ll be getting mine in the mail. (They only had small, and I’m not small.) The shirts are cute, a grey basic cotton tee with the Sin City Run logo on the front. I know I’ll wear mine.
Initially, I was freezing cold—it was in the 40s, even though I’d checked the weather report and it said 60s!—and I really wished I’d brought a heat sheet or a long-sleeved shirt. Before the 5k, BibRave Pro Laurel (aka Running to Happiness) and I huddled in her car and had some BibRave Pro bonding time prior to the start. Both of us happened to wear our 2XU winter-weight Hyoptik compression tights, and I for one was VERY pleased for the warmth. For the 5k I pulled my Buff up like a balaclava to cover my neck and head, and give me a little extra heat-retention until the sun came out. Eventually the sun did come out, and I started to warm up quite a bit.
The course was flat and as I mentioned 100% blacktop. There was the most minor of downhills at one point in the course, but you really had to be paying attention to notice it. Both courses run through Sunset Park, a protected wildlife dune just past the airport. The 5k race course takes one loop around a portion of the blacktop-paved trails, and the 10k race takes that loop twice, plus a little mini-loop to add the mileage. (Given the layout of the trails, I suspect there were few options for adjusting the course length.)
For the 5k, I ran with Laurel. She was running 2-1 intervals at a pace of about 11 minutes/mile. (I think I remembered that right.) She was kind of kicking my butt, actually, but I wanted to try the 5k as a challenge. This seemed like a good idea for the first 2.6 miles or so, then I started lagging. Frankly, my legs were pretty leaden from last weekend’s running-of-the-Dopey. I made it anyway, of course, but my legs were very cranky.
Despite being right in the middle of Vegas, the race course seemed very nature-y and not particularly urban. I spotted at least two dozen bunnies, and during the 5k Laurel taught me that the ones I call Bunna-Bunny-Big-Ears are not bunnies, but hares. (Yes, I still make up names for cute animals I see while running. I blame the lack of oxygen to the brain.) Well, they might be blacktailed jackrabbits. But she also told me she learned that they can control their body temperatures with their ears. Very cool. I wish I could do that.
I was a little disappointed to not see any lizards while I was running, but it occurred to me that while lizards can be desert-dwellers perhaps they don’t like dunes?
The course had one aid station with water (and music and cheering) which each runner passed twice during the 5k run and four times during the 10k run. The course was marked on the blacktop with chalk, with cones and XXX where appropriate to make sure runners didn’t stray from the path. There were volunteers at every point where the course might have been even a little bit confusing, as well as at the few places where the course crossed a road open to vehicles. The volunteers were really great, cheering for every runner who went through the course. In the beginning this might have been so they could stay warm, but they kept up their enthusiasm even after the sun came out.
For the 10k, I decided to switch back to my usual 1-1 intervals (which later degraded to 30 seconds and 1:30 intervals) since my legs were just not feeling it. The sun came out, and the sky was blue, so it was gorgeous out, pretty much the perfect day for a run. I tried to photograph my new “friends” during the 10k but they wouldn’t hold still. Every time I heard a new bird I stopped to see if I could find him, since I’ve never lived in the desert. I’m not sure how to describe the landscaping, but it was a natural mix of yucca-like stuff, a few cactus, and the usual desert-like trees. I could see mountains (and snow!) in the background.
The finish line had someone to announce each finisher, which I thought was a nice touch for a smaller race. There is a single finisher medal for either 5k or 10k, though if you do both you get a bonus medal. The race medal is poker-chip-themed, and double-sided enamel. The bonus medal is also poker-chip-themed, and is a spinner. Both feature wide colorful ribbons. Overall, I thought these were executed beautifully.
A few steps beyond the finish line runners had an assortment of post-race snacks, including a beverage called rumble that I’d never tried before. (The vanilla maple is delicious.) Other offerings were water, bananas, Clif organic trail mix bars, pretzels, and tortilla strips.
As I wrote on BibRave.com, this is less of a “destination race” and more of a “race in a destination.” It was small but mighty! This is the complete opposite of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas runs (which are huge, urban, and at night). This would be the perfect race for someone who wants to go to a small but extremely well-managed event. This would make an ideal race for a friends’ getaway weekend; I could see combining running these events with a longer weekend in Vegas—maybe go to the opening parties Friday, see an afternoon show Saturday, run Sunday morning, and then head to a champagne brunch buffet.
After my race, I convinced Laurel to drive me back to Harrah’s. I grabbed a shower, changed clothes, and put almost everything back in the suitcase. I met my roommate down in the high-limit room, and we headed to lunch and caught up. (I had almost convinced her to run with me, but since she was in town for a poker tournament she quickly came to her senses and decided staying out late and getting up early were not a recipe for a winning poker tournament.) When we said goodbye, I stopped to get a fruity frozen drink (because hello, Vegas).