Running is repetitive, and it can become tedious, especially in winter when you seem to run the same roads over and over again.
If you are training seriously – perhaps for a spring marathon or a season of indoor track — perhaps you don’t need any further novelty to motivate you to get out the door. But if you find yourself wearied by doing the same thing over and over again, maybe you entertain the idea of a running stunt to add a little creativity to your daily slog.
Stunt #1: Run the Calendar
The simplest stunt of all is to maintain a running streak, logging some minimum number of miles every day of the year.
If daily streaking for an entire calendar year is too obsessive for you, you could try for every day in January 2020. If you’ve already taken a day off, you could run every Monday of the year, or every Thursday.
You could also start a werewolf streak of running at midnight every full moon.
2020 is a leap year, so why not start (or continue) the most bizarre streak of all, running every February 29th for the rest of your life.
Stunt #2: Run Your Age
The traditional hard-core stunt is to run your age in miles on your birthday. Yeah, good luck with that to those of us lining up for Medicare.
You can run your age by simply choosing a more forgiving unit than miles. You can go metric with kilometers or, if that’s still too far, you can go with laps of an outdoor track. Or, heck, why not an indoor track?
You don’t even have to use units of distance. You could run for your age in minutes. Why not? You make the rules, and no one will care unless you make the mistake of telling someone how you chose to celebrate your latest revolution around the sun.
Stunt #3: Run Your Neighborhood
Each winter, there are a few days when so much snow falls that all one’s usual running routes are treacherous. On these days, I often try to construct runs on the side streets of my neighborhood where there’s little traffic and maybe a bit of runnable pavement in the middle of the street.
I can usually construct a short course of side streets that, when repeated over and over amounts to a reasonable distance. It’s definitely embarrassing to pass the same neighbor five or six times as they shovel their sidewalk, but those neighbors probably already think you’re crazy, so you might as well prove it.
One year, I decided to turn my neighborhood run into a map puzzle, and I spent a half hour constructing a route through my neighborhood that would get me five miles with little or no overlap (route crossings were allowed). I don’t remember whether it was an enjoyable run or not, probably not, but I was too busy checking my directions to pay much attention to how I felt.
Stunt #4: Run Your Town
Up for a much more ambitious and long-term project? Find a detailed street map of your town and begin recording your runs on the map, with the goal of running every inch of every street in your town (highways excluded) by the end of the year.
Note: this might be much harder than it seems. I’ve been searching for authoritative information about how many miles of streets there are in my home City of Newton, Massachusetts, and while I don’t have definite info, I suspect it far exceeds my annual mileage. This stunt might turn out to be a lifetime project.
Maybe I need to move to a smaller town.
Stunt #5: How Many Towns?
How many towns can you “touch” in a single run? The question is much more interesting for those of us living in a metro area, where it’s pretty easy to run through three or four towns. But can you run through five? Six? More?
A few minutes with MapMyRun suggest that it’s pretty easy to find a 13-mile loop route that would touch seven towns/cities: Watertown, Waltham, Belmont, Cambridge, Somerville, Boston, and Newton. How long would the run have to be to include Arlington, Medford, Everett, Chelsea, Brookline?
Stunt #6: Run Your State
Some folks keep a lifetime record of running in different U.S. states or World Countries. How about towns in your state?
As a stunt for 2020, in how many Massachusetts Cities and Towns can you log a run this year?
Stunt #7: Etch-a-Sketch Runs
If you are not motivated by year-long record-keeping projects, maybe you can have fun with the automatic mapping services of Strava or some other GPS-based tool.
For years, runners have been “drawing” pictures on Strava with interesting route choices. These pictures resemble giant etch-a-sketch creations, and like using that toy, the point of using your runs to create childish drawings seems to be to show that your creativity can express itself through even the crudest tool.
But please, let’s keep it family-friendly, OK?
That’s it for now. If anyone has better ideas for running stunts, or has already accomplished one this year, please comment to let me know.
Happy (and pointless) running in 2020!