It happens every year. The consistent four, five and six-mile runs I work up to during the summer dwindle to short bursts on the treadmill. By February and March even those are replaced with a half-hour here and there on the elliptical.
Now, as the weather warms and the days grow longer, my depleted endurance forces me to half walk, half jog outdoor routes I ran with ease in August. Usually this is when my new spring motivation kicks in to work back up to my potential, but with graduation just a few weeks away, senioritis-induced laziness has crept beyond academics and into my exercise regime.
Every day seems to have a new excuse to skip my run, and to make matters worse, most include beverages that (on top of too many liquid calories) make it even harder to get going the next day.
Luckily for me, and anyone else looking to lace up their running shoes again, some races add enough fun into running to motivate me to start up again. Here are five of the coolest, yet short and manageable runs that will be traveling the country this summer.
1. The Color Run – This fun loving, untimed 5k run is a fitness-friendly version of a Dayglow concert. Runners and walkerare instructed to begin with white shirts, which serve as blank canvases for the different shades of “magical color dust” blasted during each kilometer. Upon reaching the finish line, after being doused in five different colors, runners race through a celebratory multi-colored bombardment, followed by an after party with food, bands, and of course, more color. Runners can stop at stations to blow off the excess powder before heading home for those who don’t want to remain a walking work of art. Registration fees for this race, which will stop in 28 cities in 2012, begin at $40 for individual entrants and $35 per person for teams of four.
2. Dirty Girl Mud Run– This 5K benefitting the National Breast Cancer Foundation is certainly not for the dainty. The girls only course is broken up by obstacles such as the PMS (pretty muddy stuff) mud crawl, the Get a Grip cargo net and the Utopian Tubes tunnel. The race emphasizes female empowerment and encourages teams of any size with creative names and costumes to increase morale. The $75 race fee may be pretty pricey, but it does include a t-shirt, charm and post-race entertainment as well as a small donation to breast cancer research. Also, 250 slots are reserved for cancer survivors, who may participate in the sloppy fun for free.
3. Firefly Run – To me running at night is already extra fun, and adding LED lights into the mix only makes it that much better. The 5K or 10K race, which stops at five locations around the country, welcomes runners of all ages. Each participant decks out in illuminated costumes, with the best-dressed participant receiving an ipad. Proceeds from the races benefit different organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross, depending upon the location. The reasonable $30 cost also includes LED lights and a glow-in-the dark bracelet to brighten up your run and a chip to track your timing.
4. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler – RunDisney has its fair share of races, including the Tinkerbell Half-Marathon and Princess Marathon, but for those looking for something a little less sparkly (and less lengthy) The Tower of Terror 13K (get it, 13, scary), may be just perfect. The unique course loops around MGM studios, through the set of Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show and passes Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat before finishing at The Tower of Terror. After finishing, racers gain exclusive access to attractions such as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Star Tours, Toy Story Mania! and obviously, The Tower of Terror until 3 a.m. This run, which doesn’t take place until September 28th and 29th, is already nearly 90% full, so interested participants must sign up soon.
5. Run for Your Lives – This Zombie-themed race is the perfect combination of fun, fear, and obstacles from the previous four races. Runners attempt to navigate various obstacles and routes ranging from 5K to 10K while avoiding Zombie attackers. Each runner receives a flag football-esque belt with health flags attached. If you are elusive enough to make it through the course with at least one of your health belts intact, you survive. If not, you become one of the “undead” upon crossing the finish line. But don’t worry, all participants and spectators are welcomed to the Apocalypse party and runners receive a t-shirt, medal and free beer in addition to their invaluable training for the actual Zombie Apocalypse if it should arise. The only downside (besides possible soul-loss) is the steep $77 registration fee, although it is reflective of the elaborate set-up.