Sunday, June 12, 2016

Summer Running Checklist

I've been working on a project for the last couple of days, and I'm excited to share it with you! I was out for a run last week when I started thinking about how miserable running in the summertime can be. When it's 85 degrees and humid, the last thing I want to do is go for a run.

I tried to come up with ideas about how I could make running in the summer a little more fun. After I hit my big 10K goal in April, I didn't set another running goal. I worked so hard all winter to reach that goal, and right now, I'd rather just run to stay in shape and feel good about myself. So, rather than trying to stick with a training plan when I'm not really training for anything, I came up with an alternative: a checklist of fun runs.

It was easy to come up with 10 or 15 different runs, but after that, I really had to use my imagination. I got some inspiration from Smashrun's "badge" list, but beyond that, I just tried to think of things that would make a run more fun. I put the entire list into a PDF checklist, so that it's easily printable, and I'd love for people to join me in working on the checklist this summer! There are 49 items total. Here is the list... (click here for the PDF)

Sunrise Run
Start your run before sunrise, and end it after
Sunset Run
Start your run before sunset, and and it after
Early Bird Run
Start your run before 7:00 AM
Night Owl Run
Finish your run after 9:00 PM
Start your run between 12 PM and 2 PM
Evening Run
Start your run between 5 PM and 7 PM
Enter a race (any distance) and run it
Run in the Dark
Go for run when it’s dark outside (wear reflective gear and a headlamp for safety)
Map a route that you’ve never done before, and run it
Multi-City Run
Map out and run a route that takes place in two cities
Trail Run
Run on a nature trail
Park Run
Go for a run in a park
Explorer Run
Run in a city you’ve never run in before
Beach Run
Find some place that you can run along a body of water
Track Run
Run on a local track (indoor or outdoor)
Scenic Run
Choose a pretty place to run, and run slowly enough to really pay attention to all the views
Hilly Run
Find a hill, and run up then walk down 6-10 times
Treadmill Run
It doesn’t have to be boring! Hop on the treadmill and vary the speed and incline for an interesting indoor run.
Bridge Run
Run over a bridge of some sort
Aqua Jog
Run in a pool or lake (or any body of water you choose)
Opposite Run
Run your favorite route in the opposite direction
Rover Run
Go for a run with a dog (if you don’t have one, call a local animal shelter and ask if you can take one for a run)
Buddy Run
Run with a friend
Group Run
Run with two or more people
Child’s Play Run
Take your child, niece, nephew, grandchild or other child for a fun run (with his/her parents’ permission, of course)
Photogenic Run
Stop and take 2 scenic photos per mile during your run
Scavenger Hunt Run
Create a list of items you must search for on your run; then take a photo of each to document your findings.
Selfie Run
Take a mid-run selfie (carefully, so you don’t trip!)
Penny Pincher Run
Find a penny on the ground while you’re running
Podcast Run
Download a new podcast and listen to it while you run
Silent Run
Run without headphones
Stone Age Run
Run without any sort of technology (not even a watch!)
Zoo Run
See if you can spot five different types of animal species on your run
Generous Run
Leave a few quarters in random places on your run for others to find (it’s always fun to find a quarter!)
Do 50/50 intervals of running and walking
Rainy Run
Go for a run in the rain
Forrest Gump Run
Run without a predetermined distance—just run until you feel like stopping. Arrange ahead of time for a family member or friend to pick you up when you’re done.
Even Split Run
Run 3+ miles with mile splits of less than 5 seconds difference
Progression Run
Run 3+ miles with each mile faster than the previous
Fartlek Run
Vary the speed of your run by “sprinting to the mailbox”, “jogging to the tree”, “running hard until you see a red car”, etc. Make it up as you go along—it should be spontaneous and fun.
Tempo Run
Run slightly faster than your easy pace—roughly the pace you could hold for a 1-hour race.
Interval Run
Alternate running hard for 2 mins, then jog for 2 mins.
**Full Moon Run
Go for a run at sunset on the night of a full moon (July 19, Aug. 18, or Sept. 16)
**Solstice Run
Start your run in spring, and end it in summer (June 20, at 6:34 pm EDT, marks the beginning of summer)
**Independence Run
Run on the 4th of July. Wear red, white, and blue.
**Ice Cream Run
Map out a run that finishes at an ice cream stand—and run for ice cream on National Ice Cream Day (July 17)
**Beer Run
Go for a run on International Beer Day (Aug. 26) and finish with a cold beer (or buy one for a friend)
**Chocolate Run
Go for a run on International Chocolate Day (Sept. 13) and enjoy something chocolatey later to celebrate
**Fall Equinox Run
End your summer by running into fall at 10:21 AM (EDT) on Sept. 22.

With 49 runs different runs on the list, I could work on 3-4 of these a week for the entire summer! (Please put safety first if you decide to try these--if it's not safe to run in the dark where you live, for example, just skip that one or come up with an alternative.) Even if you're not a runner, nearly all of these are able to be done as a walker. 

Summer officially begins on June 20th, which is a week from tomorrow--so I'll kick off the summer running with the Solstice Run (actually, I'll do two runs that day, in order to get my badge on Smashrun). I think this will be a fun way to have a running goal without being so serious. The variety will make things interesting all summer long. Usually, I am following a training schedule, so this summer will be different for me, and after creating this list, I'm looking forward to it!

ETA: Reader Amanda suggested having a hashtag for the checklist, so that as people complete the different runs and post them on social media, we can see how others' do with their runs--I love that idea! So let's go with the hashtag #CookiesSummerRunning. If you post about your runs from the checklist on social media, please use the hashtag so we can follow along and get some other ideas! :)


  1. Love this! Definitely spices things up a bit. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is fantastic. I am going to try this! I am part of the Run the Year group (2016 miles in 2016) but I still need a little kick in the rear to get going lately.

  3. Thanks for making this list. I want to run more, but I've been making excuses. Perhaps this list will get me out the door.

  4. Oh man I did my first treadmill run yesterday due to the heat. I hate the heat. I heat the humidity. I'll be spending more time in the gym and that sucks. That list is fun to read but I think it'd be more fun to most of those in the fall! :)

  5. This is so fun!! Thank you for creating it. I just might have to try and check most of them off! It'll definitely make for an interesting summer of running :)

  6. I love this post. Fantastic idea!!

  7. I love this! Thank you for making this list!

  8. This is a great list! I was tasked to come up with a fitness challenge for my Weight Watchers group. Would it be ok if I used some of these ideas with them? I would give you full credit, of course. Most are older ladies and we're trying to make exercise more fun for them. Since they could walk a lot of these, I think it would be perfect for them.

    1. Of course! I'm glad you like the idea :)

  9. What a great idea! My goal race is this Sunday, and I'm looking for something to keep me motivated and engaged after the race. This may do the trick! (Also, living in DC, we have free access to the zoo. People run in it all the time!)

  10. What a great idea to keep running interesting and challenging. You are so creative. I've decided to try and get my butt off my chair more often and walk around my house in 5-minute increments. Any longer than that and I get bored. I've already done it 3 times this morning, and plan to do it 3 more times today, for a total of 30 minutes of walking (I don't have a treadmill and it's too hot to walk outside). Maybe it'll help me get to the Summer Challenge Goal by this weekend? I've got a ways to go but I'm not giving up yet!!!

  11. This is absolutely cool! I have just printed the list out and I wonder how many of the runs will I make ;)
    On the other hand I would appreciate motivation list for running in another type miserable type of weather (for me it is cloudy, windy, rain showers, temperature between 10-15°C ;))

  12. Probably a silly question, but are you going to have a hashtag for the challenge that we could document on Instagram or the Facebook Runs for Cookies group? It might be kind of fun to see how other people complete the challenges!!

    1. Ooooh, I love that idea! Let's go with #CookiesSummerRunning

    2. Awesome! I'll write that on my PDF I printed off. I'm going to start next week on the 20th!

  13. What a great idea!! Good job and thanks!

  14. What a fun idea! I'm going to use some of your list to help keep me motivated this summer too!

    This list totally reminded me of the scavenger hunt game I make for my husband's birthday each year. He loves a birthday dinner with friends, so to spice it up and keep the laughter rolling, I make each person a unique card.

  15. What a fun idea! I'm going to use some of your list to help keep me motivated this summer too!

    This list totally reminded me of the scavenger hunt game I make for my husband's birthday each year. He loves a birthday dinner with friends, so to spice it up and keep the laughter rolling, I make each person a unique card.


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