Despite races being canceled left and right, runners are still feeling the competitive itch. For some, setting solo personal bests is all the incentive needed to stay excited about training. But for others, the sense of community that comes from regular racing might be missing from your life, making you feel less motivated. If you’re missing competition, it might be time to consider hosting a MapMyRun challenge for some running friends.
Here, we break down the simple steps to create a challenge that runs smoothly, gets your crew excited about running again and might even lead you to set that new personal record.
CHOOSE YOUR CHALLENGE
Decide what works best for your crew of friends: Is it a month-long distance accumulation challenge, a single weekend of total steps taken or a timed 5K on a designated neighborhood loop?
For starters, or if your running friends are slammed with work and home-schooling and plenty of other concerns, a shorter challenge might be an easier way to get everyone excited. For a group of newer runners, step counts might be the better metric to focus on since walking can count in the total. But if you’re all complaining about a lack of motivation for normal weekly training, a challenge that gets runners to rack up miles over a few weeks might be the push you all need to get back to regular running schedules. You want a challenge that pushes your group, without feeling impossible.
MAKE IT OFFICIAL
Creating a challenge that can easily be recorded and ranked is simple. On the MapMyRun app, navigate to the trophy icon at the bottom of the screen. Then, in the upper right hand side of the screen, click ‘Create.’ There, you’ll be able to name a challenge and choose the type (distance, time, steps or workouts logged). Then, set your date range and invite your friends. Throughout the challenge, you’ll see how you stack up with the rest of your crew, and hopefully the competitive spirit incentivizes you to squeeze in an extra mile or two.
DECIDE ON THE RULES
Depending on where you are in the world, different pandemic guidelines may be in place, and it’s essential to make sure everyone understands the best practices for staying safe while competing. You might be able to actually ‘race’ with five friends outside, or you may need to restrict group runs to people you live with or go solo. Put these rules in place before spreading the word, including whether you’re opening your challenge to anyone or keeping it exclusive to your small circle.
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PICK A PRIZE OR TWO
Need a little extra nudge in the right direction? Consider having all of your participants put a few bucks into a prize pot where the winner gets a gift card for some new running gear or to that great juice place in town. When money is on the line, studies have shown people are more likely to make healthy choices, so adding that extra incentive might mean the difference between having a 100% success rate versus a 50% rate of challenge finishers.
If you’re the ringleader of a challenge, part of the job is to keep the participants active. Make sure you keep the stoke level high by continually checking in on your friends, commenting on their progress and cheering their successes. If you live in an area where group runs are allowed, try to make some of your runs social (possibly adding a sprint or two for some bonus competition and speedwork!). Of course, come up with a fun hashtag to share all of your progress along the way.
Whether you want to run your first mile or set a PR, having a plan gets you there faster. Go to the MapMyRun app, tap “Training Plans” — you’ll get a schedule and coaching tips to help you crush it.