Athletes are always looking for their next challenge. Whether it’s hitting a time goal or place on the leaderboard, challenging themselves in a new sport or changing up training to prepare for endurance or speed, there’s something fulfilling about pushing the limits and seeing it pay off.
If you’re an athlete looking for a new race or goal, we have ten races every athlete should do no matter their discipline or level. Not only will the pursuit push you outside your comfort zone, but it might just make you a more well-rounded athlete with different distances and disciplines under your belt.
1) The 5k
At 3.1 miles, it might not sound like a true challenge, but shorter races like the 5k require different and sometimes more intense workouts if you’re gunning for a PR. The 5k is also one of the most popular distances, so they’re fairly easy races to find on the weekend, and most support worthwhile causes. We think it’s a great race for everyone from beginners to seasoned athletes.
2) The Half Marathon
The race distance that still allows you to have a social life. Keep those brunch plans because, during half marathon training, you can get in your long weekend miles without sacrificing time with friends. The half marathon is not only a great stepping stone race to bigger goals like the marathon or ultra distances.
3) The Marathon
Yes, the marathon. From beginners to pros, twenty-six point two miles is a long way to run for any athlete, and crossing the marathon finish line after months of hard work and dedication is sure to send chills down your spine. Be sure to check out larger races like the United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington D.C. Marathon which offers a scenic course, live bands, and excellent on-course support. Just be careful walking downstairs the week following your race.
What to get started running? Here’s how…
4) A Triathlon
A little variety can go a long way, especially if you’re a single sport athlete who only cross-trains in the pool or on the bike. If that’s you, it’s time to take on a triathlon. A great place to start is a sprint triathlon which consists of a 750-meter swim, 12.4-mile bike, and a 5k run. The training itself is a great challenge to shake up your routine and try a sport you might end up loving. Our Triathlon Training 101 Guide can help get you started.
5) The SwimRun
Though they’re fewer and far between, SwimRun races are fun multi-sport challenges that are growing in popularity. Most are partner races that consist of several alternating swimming and running segments. Many courses are also less typical than athletes are used to; swim legs may take place in oceans, lakes, or rivers, and run legs could take place on everything from roads to rocky and technical trails.
6) A Trail Race
After a long stretch of racing on the roads, it’s time to take your legs to the trails. Trail races break up traditional training, relieve some stress the roads often cause on the body, and let you experience a new place that may or may not be open to the public any other time of the year.
7) A Gravel Bike Race
The gravel scene is quickly becoming the next trend in the cycling world—for good reason. Races like Dirty Kanza, SBT GRVL, and the Belgian Waffle Ride tend to take themselves less seriously than the road scene cyclists are used to while offering an unforgettable experience riding beautiful dirt roads all over the country. Be sure to sign up quickly because they’re sure to sell out.
8) An Obstacle Course Race
If you’re less motivated by the medal and more so the post-race celebration, the obstacle course race is something you need to experience. These events are a fun opportunity to tackle a challenge with friends, family, or co-workers and test your fitness levels in less traditional ways.
9) A Destination Race
Turn your race into a vacation with a destination race. Be sure to schedule all your activities and excursions for the week after your race so you can have fun playing tourist once you’ve crossed the finish line.
10) A Hometown Race
Maybe you run or ride the course’s streets every day, but participating in a hometown race is a great way to support the organization putting it on. You can also experience your hometown in a new way with hundreds of other people and cheering sections. Also, how great is it to roll out of bed with the starting line relatively close to your front door?
Remember, have fun! If you are taking on a new challenge then set attainable goals, manage your expectations and be sure to enjoy the experience so you want to do it again.