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This TikTok Trend is a Great Run Workout, Actually

The "run until" trend on TikTok is a new take on the fartlek - and it might just be the workout refresh you need.

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Before GPS watches were ubiquitous and runners became bound to mile splits and running to exact distances, many used to take more informal, fartlek-type approaches to interval training: Run hard for two streetlights, easy for one. Pick up the pace to the tree in the park, jog back to the start. Today, however, most triathletes these days feel antsy if they don’t have exact distances and splits in workout instructions – making it all too easy to forget that this sport of ours is supposed to be fun.

But recently, a trend on social-media app TikTok is trying to revive the fun. If you’re of a certain age, you probably know TikTok as the app your kids use, or the videos that eventually make it to your Instagram feed (too real?). But the kids are on to something – specifically, with the “run until” game, which has started to gain traction as a way for runners to stop looking at their watches and start having fun again.

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What is “Run Until” on TikTok?

Simply put, the “Run Until” game involves choosing (or letting others chose) an object, person, place, to – you got it – run until the item of interest is spotted. Think “I Spy,” only on two feet, rather than through the window of the car. The sky’s been the limit for the TikTok challenge – participants have recorded themselves running to everything from cars being towed, to pigs. While this adds an element of uncertainty to runs (and might need to be applied with certain limits), the principles of the “Run Until” game comes with its share of physical and mental benefits.

Benefits of “Run Until” workouts

Physically, running until spotting the sight of interest could very well lead to some increased miles on the day (just be sure you’re prepared with fuel and fluids), or simply inspire you to just get out the door. Once one object is found, you might very well find yourself motivated to search for another. Those prone to pushing the pace too often might benefit from using the “Run Until” game to slow down and search a bit.

From a mental standpoint, the “Run Until” game takes the attention away from obsessing over paces, distance, or splits, and shifts it to being observant of surroundings and appreciating where running can take us. It breaks of the monotony of running the same old routes, and teaches us to find something new (or quirky), even in the familiar. As those on TikTok have shown, it can have social benefits as well – crowdsourcing for your “Run Until” brings others into your running world, especially those who might not otherwise be interested in your 8.4 mile Z2 run at 9:24 pace with 381’ of elevation gain. Setting out the door without a plan engraved in stone or a reason to stare at your wrist constantly can breathe some creativity and fun into the routine of anyone stuck in a rut.

RELATED: 9 Ways To Do Fartlek Workouts

How to use TikTok’s “Run Until” game in training

So, how can you use the “run until” game in training? In its simplest form, pick a random “run until”, and make that your mileage (don’t forget to factor in the return trip as well). To make it more fun for everyone that puts up with your running habit, let them in on the game, too: Ask your kids, partner, or friends to brainstorm the “run until,” and send them a selfie when you reach it (or, better yet, a TikTok).

You can also encourage yourself to go a tad further by coming up with a simpler “run until” when getting into the later stages of a run. For those who might want to incorporate some harder running without the pressure of structured intervals, the game can be adapted to include some fartlek-type running. Pick a thing or two that you might see multiple times on a run: a traffic light, a dog on a walk, a flagpole, a swimming pool, a cyclist, a playground or swing set, and so on. Once you sight it, run harder until it’s behind you.

You can also turn the game into a scavenger hunt challenge, brainstorming a list of “run untils” to find, either on a single run, or throughout the course of several days, a week, or even a season. This lets you spread some fun and flexibility across runs. To make this even more fun, share the scavenger hunt list with your training buddies or tri club, which allows everyone to get in on the fun. Stumped for scavenger hunt ideas? Check out the scavenger hunt list of “run untils” below, and have fun opening your eyes to what’s around, and chasing down sights instead of splits.

TikTok’ s”Run Until” Workout: Sample Scavenger Hunt Items

  • Hammock
  • Wood-paneled station wagon
  • Someone playing basketball in the driveway
  • Lawn gnomes
  • A dog with spots
  • A tricycle or Big Wheels
  • Ducks
  • A person in a pink jacket
  • A water spigot
  • Sidewalk chalk art

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