Running events have been one of the most popular public fitness related activities in history. I would say that swimming is probably right in there as well. Yet, of all those thousands of participants, over time immemorial you haven’t been one of them. Oh, perhaps you started a training program and intended to sign up for a 10k, but after a few weeks slogging along the road at 6:30 in the morning it just wasn’t that fun. It could be that you are an old hand at Bloomsday and it’s just not holding it’s appeal anymore. Been there, done that.
If only there were a way to look forward to an event with excitement, pure fun, ridiculousness, or even a little danger? That’s currently one of the fastest growing movements in the business of exercise. Theme events. From charity runs with doughnuts(best rest area ever) to insane adventure runs, these events put less emphasis on time and effort and more on fun and accomplishment.
Here are a few events to throw that much needed wrinkle into your straight and steady workout programs:
- Run for your life – We’ve all watched horror films and I think we can all agree on having learned a few things. First, when attending a halloween party held inside an abandoned prison do not leave your wife/girlfriend to “check out that noise”. Second, if you are said wife/girlfriend at the aforementioned party, wear your running shoes not high heels. Admit it, we all think we could outrun the death dealing lumberjack from hell who stumbles along the dark, wooded path. Well, now’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is. These fine folks have combined the nerd love of dressing up like zombies at conventions, with the fitness fanatic’s love of the 5k race. Volunteer as a zombie and get professionally made up as an undead ghoul hunting for brains or make your way to safety as humanity’s last hope. Or get a break on registration and do both! Afterwards enjoy the Apocalypse party and rebuild civilization 1 beer at a time. www.runforyourlife.com
- Twinkie Run for ALS – If zombies and blood is not your thing, charity events often put a twist on things. An outfit in Michigan sponsors a fun run raising funds for ALS research providing twinkies for that helpful sugar rush to the finish line. It may not be healthy, but it’s for a good cause. www.a2a3.org
- Krispy Kreme Challenge – What started as a college dare has grown into quite a fundraiser for a NC children’s hospital. The ‘casual’ participant may run the race without so much as a morsel of fried goodness if they so choose. However, where’s the fun in that? Sign up as a ‘challenger’ and you must consume 12 of the little buggers at the halfway point and finish all 5 miles in under 1 hour.
- Color Run and Foamfest – These two offer untimed, prize-less, non-trophy awarding runs and have become the most popular 5k races in the US. Why? Probably because running around dressed in white throwing colored powder at everyone sounds as fun as getting covered in foam and shooting down giant slip-n-slides. thecolorrun.com & 5kfoamfest.com
- Tough Mudder – If consuming twinkies doesn’t quite meet your definition of ‘challenge’, or sliding into a foam pit isn’t how you imagine ‘obstacles’, how about something a little more extreme? Tough Mudder touts themselves as one of the fastest growing running companies projecting as many as one million participants in 2014. What are all these people so excited about? Ten to twelve miles of off road running completing 25 obstacles along the way. All 25 obstacles seem to have the same general purpose in mind which is that as you approach them you will say to yourself, “Holy $#&%!”. Ice water pools, inclined monkey bars, slippery climbs, pits to jump over, pipes to crawl through and electrified wires to zap you. All for a headband and a beer at the finish line. toughmudder.com
- Yes it is crazy, however, it is not the peak crazy. The Death Race, found by going to www.youmaydie.com, is a 48 hour, yes 2 day, adventure race in which the company gleefully exclaims that “90% of you won’t finish”. With physical and mental challenges designed to break you they lay claim to the ultimate experience by reminding you that you should only enter if you “have lived a full life”.
Training can get stale, whether it is running 5 days a week, or strength training regularly. Switching it up often can be helpful, but sometimes we just need something to look forward to. Most training blogs or articles (including ours) tend to focus on sets, reps, loading techniques, technical form tweaks, and other serious fitness topics. That’s all good, however, as insane or as silly as these events might be, I think they all come from a similar premise which I tend to agree with. Physical fitness should be an enjoyable part of life and these events can certainly be part of that lifestyle.
Me and my iPhone – This week has been Crystal Method Pandora station. Got some good runs in, including one with the nephew which was fun, I won’t say who got home first. Kettlebells and more kettlebells!