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23 Running Challenges To Make 2023 Your Best Running Year Yet - Antsy Labs

23 Running Challenges To Make 2023 Your Best Running Year Yet

While signing up to take on a race can seem like enough of a running challenge, it never hurts to have some extra motivation along the way.

After all, training schedules can stretch from 10 weeks to 16, 20, and even 24 weeks as we get ready for 5ks, 10ks, half-marathons, and marathons.

For some of us, the idea of enjoying a cool beverage with that beautiful finisher’s medal hanging around our neck is enough to keep us going. 

For the rest of us, it’s helpful to have other ways to keep at it. To help you make 2023 your best running year ever, we’ve put together 23 running challenges that’ll keep those internal fires stoked.

Don’t worry - they’re not all races! We’ve broken up these running challenges into ones involving races, training, running buddies, and even a few special running challenges that don’t involve running at all (those are the ones I’m starting with).


You’ll earn these IRLAs when you cross certain finish lines, each race bringing you a step closer to where you want to be. But the more finish lines you cross, the more you’ll see how running goes well beyond racing. Some days are race days, but every day can be a run day.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s lace-up and let loose.

Running Challenges Involving Races

We’ll start with run challenges that get you to the starting line. Since many of us already use races as motivation to train, these challenges will help you add a new flavor to your running year.

Challenge #1: Race In A New State

This challenge involves running a race in a new state in the U.S. If you’re in a rut running your same hometown races every year, use this challenge as an excuse to visit a state you’ve always wanted to visit - or take on a race you’ve always read about.

Why not head to Florida to try the Dopey Challenge at Disney World?

Challenge #2: Race In A New Country

If you’re starting to plan some international travel, adding a local race in a new country can be a cool way to explore. 

After all, what better way to get to know a country like France than by drinking its wine while (or at least, immediately after…) you run?

Challenge #3: Race A Different Distance

This challenge involves signing up for and completing races of different distances, such as a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or marathon. It doesn’t always have to be about pushing yourself to run longer and harder. 

Sometimes it’s refreshing to change up the pace from what you normally run! Plus, for those of you training for longer distances, having a reward of a 5k or 10k can give you a real way to see the progress you’ve been making.

Challenge #4: Unlock All of the IRLA Running Achievement Medals

To motivate one of your best running years ever, use this IRLA Running Pack to guide your year’s training. Like the finisher’s medal you’ll get after your race, you’ll unlock these real-life achievements by finishing certain distances and races, including running a mile, a 5k race, a 10k race, a half marathon race, and a marathon race.

Do them all, and you’ll be able to proudly show off the amazing running work you’ve done in 2023.

Challenge #5: Race A Month

Rather than using a single race to motivate months of training, take on this 2023 running challenge and give yourself a goal of racing every month. 

You can use smaller monthly races to help you build toward some longer races down the line, or just use this as a fun way to get to know the local racing community.

Challenge #6: Your Personal Record

It wouldn’t be your best year of running ever if you didn’t push yourself a little bit. Think about a race distance that you haven’t tried yet or a distance you think you could improve in, and set your goals on achieving something new.

Running Challenges Involving Training

While running challenges involving races are great for long-term motivation, they are far from the only way to stay motivated with your daily and weekly runs. To help you hit your 2023 running goals, try taking on a few of these training-related running challenges.

Challenge #7: 100 Miles In A Month

Races are fun because they require us to gather all our training and push ourselves to achieve something in a single day. Monthly challenges like this one push us toward endurance and consistency..

Challenge #8: Set A Run Streak Record

How often do you run a week? 3 times? 5 times? This month, see if you can push yourself to run for a week straight. Don’t worry - these don’t all need to be long runs. The definition by the United States Run Streak Association is to run one mile everyday

Start today, and who knows how far your streak will take you?

Challenge #9: Run Trails Weekly

Who among us hasn’t gotten into a running rut? Maybe we stick to the same route around our neighborhood or we always head to the same treadmill at the gym. To break up your running rut, this running challenge is about finding a trail nearby. 

Enjoy new scenery, a new running surface, and a new perspective.

Challenge #10: Add A Speed Workout To Your Week

As you get into a rhythm with your running routine, it can be easy to fall into automatic mode. Step into your running clothes, step out the door, and go. For this running challenge, add some weekly bursts of speed to your workout. 

This could be in the form of strides after your workout, speed training like Fartlek runs, or just pushing yourself past your comfort zone for small bursts.

Challenge #11: Plank After Each Run

The secret to a body that lasts for a lifetime of running? You’ve got to do more than just run. While adding on a full-on gym workout might be more than your schedule allows, see if you can add a minute or two of planking after each run.

Challenge #12: Try A New Type of Cross-Training

On that note of preparing your body, challenge yourself to try a new type of cross-training. If you’re quick to take a dip between run workouts, give cycling a try. If your bones are a little sore from the pavement, see if your gym has a rowing machine.

Challenge #13: Daily Hydration Goals

While not as aerobically exhausting as a speed workout, drinking water is also one of the best running challenges you can take on this year. As important for your performance as for your long-term health, hitting and sticking to daily hydration will keep you feeling great this year.

Running Challenges Involving Your Running Buddies

Running is a great way to take some time to yourself, to reflect, and to go at your own pace. After a long enough time, though, it’s nice to have some company. 

The following running challenges are all about how you can work together to improve your running this year.

Challenge #14: Sunrise Runners

Sometimes the hardest part of running is actually getting out there to run. When we put it off until the afternoon or evening, it’s that much easier for other obligations to pop up. 

With the Sunrise Runners challenge, you and your running group will be out and running while the sun rises each day for a week. 

Challenge #15: Take On A Virtual Race Together

Though virtual races became more popular during the pandemic, they can still be a fun way to get your friends together and run – often for a good cause. 

Plus, these virtual races often have plenty of real-life rewards, including handsomely designed finisher’s medals.

Challenge #16: Group Mileage Goals

Do you have a group that you run with consistently? One way to keep everyone engaged and running is to set weekly or monthly mileage goals for the group itself. 

Instead of just aiming for 20 of your own miles, you and four friends can collectively contribute to hitting 100 miles for the week. 

Challenge #17: Do A Relay Race

Who says a race has to just be about you? With a relay race – often at or around the marathon distance – you and your friends can team up to take on a long run, turning the pressure of a lengthy race into a lively event.

Challenge #18: Stage A Silly Competition

This is a reminder that not all running needs to be so serious. There are plenty of fun run challenges, too. Like the Krispy Kreme Challenge, which has runners taking on five miles and 12 donuts in an hour or less, or the Beer Mile, where you’ll aim for one beer every 400 meters. 

Break up the heavy training with one of these fun competitions with your friends.

Running Challenges That Don’t Involve Running

Challenge #19: Cheer Them On At Their Race

With this running challenge, you get to enjoy everything about race day without the stress of running. If you’ve heard a coworker is training for a race or someone in your running group has one coming up, show up to support them. 

You can even surprise them by waiting for them at Mile 20 with a sign and a hat.

Challenge #20: Volunteer At A Race

What would our race days be without volunteers to support us? This running challenge is about giving back to the running community that’s supported you throughout your events in the past. 

Challenge yourself to volunteer at a race every three months (or more!) as you help other runners achieve their goals.

Challenge #21: Self-Care Streak

I know I love a good rest day. Even with the thrills that come along with a challenging long run, indulging on a day off is the best. With this running challenge, see how you can stretch that self-care throughout the week. 

Add daily massages, warm baths, and inspirational podcasts to keep yourself in a positive state of mind.

Challenge #22: Create Your Race Bucket List

When you sign up for a race, you sign up for the training that you’ll have to put in to get to the starting line. For this running challenge, all you’re doing is dreaming. 

Dream about the destinations you’d like to run, the states you’d like to see, or the iconic races you’d like to check off. 

Challenge #23: Build A Display Case For Your Bling

With all of the running and racing you’ll be doing in 2023, odds are you’ll start to amass a collection of medals and race bibs. Will it look like this one

Perhaps someday! Until then, find a nice way to display the results of all your hard work, and use it to inspire yourself to new running heights.


You’ll earn these IRLAs when you cross certain finish lines, each race bringing you a step closer to where you want to be. But the more finish lines you cross, the more you’ll see how running goes well beyond racing. Some days are race days, but every day can be a run day.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s lace-up and let loose.

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