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30-Day Running Challenge: 30 Ways to #RunForFun

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DAY 1

Take a run-cation with an adventurous playlist. If you're training for a destination race or planning a vacation, create a playlist with music that makes you think of that place. It will make you excited for your upcoming trip and put you in vacation mood on an otherwise normal day. No trips on the horizon? Listen to songs that remind you of a trip in the past.

— Gabrielle Kotkov, running blogger at Marathons and Macarons

DAY 2

Try "mailbox sprints." If you're running in a neighborhood with mailboxes, simply run slightly faster between one mailbox and the next, then run easy between the next ones. This can also be done by blocks, telephone poles, or trees!

Katie Bottini, Nike run coach, NASM-certified personal trainer, and competitive triathlete

DAY 3

Make it a #TBT. Make a playlist of all your favorite songs from when you were in high school to really—ahem—jog your memory.

— Beth Risdon, running blogger at Shut Up and Run

DAY 4

Make a DIY sports drink. Make a tasty homemade fuel you can look forward to after long runs. I love my Homemade Citrus Sport Drink.

— Anne Mauney, MPH, RD, food and fitness blogger at fANNEtastic food

DAY 5

Use your upper body. Find four places to stop and do 12 push-ups, alternating between incline and decline push-ups.

— Jennifer Forrester, personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and former D1 sprinter

DAY 6

Run at a new time. If you usually run in the morning, run at sunset today, and vice versa. Many of us are creatures of habit, but mixing up your training can breathe new life into it!

— Elizabeth Corkum, New York–based running coach and blogger at Coach Corky Runs

DAY 7

Be a greeter. Depending on the time of day, greet every person you pass with a smile and a good morning, or good evening. Hey, you may just be the reason they jog a few miles and pass the smile forward.

— Krystal Salvent, instructor at TheRun, a treadmill studio in New York City

DAY 8

Channel your friendships. Each mile, think of a different friend, including the fun times you've had together, and how you'd let them down if you slow down.

— Laura Skladzinski, running blogger at 50 by 25

DAY 9

Play "I Spy." Similar to the game you may have played as a child, each time you "spy" a red car (fill in any item that makes sense for your area) stop your run and do a specific exercise (hold a side plank for 20 seconds, do 10 push-ups or 10 lunges, etc.).

— Lee and Beth Jordan, ACE-certified personal trainers

DAY 10

Make intervals unpredictable. Get faster with random object speedplay! Before running, pick an object you frequently, but sporadically, encounter on your route: squirrels, cats, a person with a hat, etc. When you run, pick up the pace every time you spot your object, and hold that pace until you see the object again. It can be fun and challenging, because you never know how long you'll have to hold the faster pace!

— Ashley Walsh, ultramarathoner and blogger at Ash Runs 100s

DAY 11

Pick a feel-good scent. When you think of exercise, the smells that usually comes to mind are sweaty socks and a musty gym bag. That isn't exactly great motivation to get you up and running! Consider using scents to help to boost your mood and your energy level. Having a particular scent that you associate with exercise is great for helping you to create a healthy habit. If you need to wake up, go for an energizing scent, like peppermint, as it is a natural stimulant. Peppermint oil is inexpensive and great to smell when you're feeling tired. Also, lemon has an uplifting and refreshing scent, which makes it perfect for your pre-workout routine. Placing a drop of essential oil on your running shirt can help set the tone for your run.

— Samantha Clayton, former Olympic runner, fitness expert, and senior director of fitness education at Herbalife

DAY 12

Wear something fun. Hello Sparkle Skirt! It'll put a smile on your face and pep in your step. Pop a tiara onto your visor, slip on loud compression socks, buy those snake-print tights you've been eyeing, or go for something with glitter—sparkly skirt, sleeves, visor, anything. (Speaking of sparkles and tiaras, sign up for a SHAPE Diva Dash near you. Today, we're in DC!)

— Karla Bruning, race announcer and blogger at Run, Karla, Run!

DAY 13

Make it opposite day. Run your favorite routes in the opposite direction. Not only will it give a new perspective in terms of scenery, but it'll also give your legs some new terrain to love. Your body can become conditioned to "kick it in gear" when it knows an incline is coming or "ready for recovery" when it's expecting a downhill section that's just around the corner. Running your route backward will keep your legs guessing and your mind free from the same old routine.

— Kristen Loos, owner, Kaia FIT, a nationwide fitness program for women

DAY 14

Get flirty and play "spot who's hot." Find the hot men running and smile (bonus points for lapping them). It'll make your run fly by, and who knows, one may even turn around and join you.

— Erin Bulvanoski, trainer at KORE, a fitness studio in New York City

DAY 15

Grab a buddy. Running is always better with a partner. If you're able to carry on a conversation, with moderate difficulty, you know you're in the right training zone for improving heart health.

— Jacque Crockford, an ACE expert and exercise physiologist

DAY 16

Let your S.O. or BFF make your playlist. It's so fun to see what they think you like—the anticipation for each song keeps you engaged the whole time.

— Rebecca Kennedy, trainer at Barry's Bootcamp

DAY 17

Turn your warm-up into a party. Blast Beyoncé before your run for a dance party (and dynamic warm-up!).

Robin Arzon, running coach and cycling instructor in New York City

DAY 18

Think grateful thoughts. Dedicate every mile, lap, or block to something you're grateful for. Learning to focus on gratitude helps remind us that positivity is a choice we can make every day.

Girls on the Run, a nonprofit program that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running

DAY 19

Go somewhere else. Drive somewhere else and run a new area or trail. Sometimes new surroundings make all the difference in livening up a run. Trail running in particular can connect you with nature and is so much nicer on your body versus the road.

— Robin Runner, blogger at Knead to Cook

DAY 20

Dust off your air drums. Really feeling the music? Harness that energy by playing the easiest instrument around: the air drum. It's guaranteed to make you smile, and experts say that smiling during a run can release tension and make the run feel easier.

— Dorothy Beal, running blogger at Mile-Posts

DAY 21

Go topless. OK, not like that. I mean shirtless. I admire any woman who runs shirtless and only wears her sports bras. I used to think that it was only acceptable for women with perfect bodies to run shirtless but it's so not true! (I used to apply this rule to two-piece bathing suits too). Own your body. Be proud of it. Never forget that you run for your self-pleasure and not for anyone else. It's liberating to run without a shirt AND you'll realize that having your midriff bare engages your core. Ever realize that you stand straighter when you're wearing a bikini? You're getting cardio in AND your core workout. Lastly, it's a great way to show off that cute sports bra that you just bought.

— Grace Kim, blogger at Lean Girls Club

DAY 22

Wear a sign on the back of your shirt that says something like "Honk if you like chocolate." Or "Honk if you like running." You get people driving by reading your shirt and interacting with you. Then give them a big pump to show that you heard them. It's always fun to get people's reactions to you and interact with people as they drive by.

Cindra Kamphoff, PhD, sports psychologist and director of the Center for Sport and Performance Psychology at Minnesota State University–Mankato.

DAY 23

Collect coins. I used to just pass them by, but I thought of all the money I'd passed by over the years and decided to start picking it up. I have a jar at home that is just for the money I find while out running. Reward yourself with running gear once it adds up!

— Katie Foster, running blogger at Runs for Cookies

DAY 24

Run for food. Pick a snack spot you've been dying to try, map out how far it is from home, and then run there. What better way to end your run than with a big ice cream cone, warm cheese-filled soft pretzel, or whatever happens to be roughly four miles from home and filled with delicious carbohydrates?

— Alison Feller, running blogger at Ali on the Run

DAY 25

Ditch the data and run naked. Not like that! Just leave your GPS and music at home, so you can focus on the run. (Many people find that running has meditative effects.)

— Kristin Stehly, blogger at Stuft Mama

DAY 26

Love the mud. Find a trail that crosses rivers, mud, and waterways, and just get in there and get wet and dirty! (Even better? Sign up for an obstacle race, like the SHAPE Diva Dash. We're in Boston today and New York City next month!)

Anna "Frosty" Frost, competitive ultrarunner

DAY 27

Create a picture. If you use a mapping tool (Garmin, RunKeeper, Strava), come up with a route that will create a picture when you're finished, then share on Instagram or Facebook.

— Michele Gonzalez, blogger at NYC Running Mama

DAY 28

Go run in the rain. I used to be terrified to run in the rain...if there was more than a 30 percent chance of rain, it wasn't going to happen. Now, I use it as a fun run. You get soaked, muddy, and can't help but smile the whole time. (Note: Don't run in thunderstorms, especially if you run under a lot of trees.)

— Lora Mays, blogger at Crazy Running Girl

DAY 29

Find a nature trail. Running on uneven terrain works different muscles groups, making it a great alternative to running on the street.

Serenbe's Garnie Nygren: Tips for Trail Running

DAY 30

Bring your dog. She'll encourage you to run faster at times, but also slow you down other times (when she wants to pee or sniff something). Interval training!

— Karlyle Alvino, instructor a TheRun, a treadmill studio in New York City

Running for MORE than fun? Get our marathon training plans for beginners and intermediate and advanced runners.

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Show us how you #RunForFun

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Kiera Carter

Kiera Carter is the executive web editor of FITNESS and SHAPE. She's also a New York University alum, Brooklyn resident, and half marathon lover.  More →

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