Training

Feeling Unmotivated? Here Are 10 Challenges to Try

From a month of mindfulness to 30 miles in 24 hours—there's something for everyone in our roundup of virtual challenges.

We’re all tired of this, right? It feels like the first race of the season is getting pushed back to later and later in the year. Will we even get to race in 2020? Staying motivated to bike, run, and work on technical skills is waning for many. The solution? Jump into one of the many virtual challenges stay-at-home fitness has to offer. 

30-Day Push-Up Challenge

You can be one of the fastest triathletes in your age group and not be able to do a proper push-up. Use this time at home to change that. First, make sure you know how to do a push-up the proper way. You’re better off starting on your knees and working your way up to the full-body push-up than using poor form. Then, pick a progression that feels comfortable for you. There are all kinds of plans out there (from beginner to intermediate to advanced). Some stick to the traditional push-up and others throw variations in throughout the 30 days. Start Googling and then make May the month you dominate the push-up. If you’d rather focus on other strength components, there are also popular 30-day plans for squats and planks.

30-Day Meditation Challenge

If you’re feeling mentally worn out, you might think the opposite of what you want to do right now is sit alone with your thoughts a bit each day for 30 days straight—but hear us out. A 2018 Harvard study showed that mindfulness-based meditation can actually change the brain of people with depression. It also sets you up for success for when you can return to racing as it trains your brain to focus on the task at hand. There are plenty of guided meditation programs out there, but it’s hard to beat the Headspace app. Start with their “Basics” program (each session can be 5 or 10 minutes) and work your way up to 30 days. The app keeps track of your streak for you and provides helpful hints along the way. You can even choose a male or female voice to guide your meditation time. The introduction courses are free, and if you continue the cost is $12.99 per month. It’s about the same cost of your Netflix subscription, but—if you stick to it—it will be worth every penny in the improvement you’ll see in your overall happiness and ability to stay mindful in training and racing.

7-Day Challenge with Alysia Montaño

Challenges don’t have to take an entire month! This fun seven-day challenge from our friends at Women’s Running is the perfect quick-start if you’re struggling with getting your butt off the couch. The best part of this one is it only takes 20 minutes per day.

Day 1: Total-Body Cardio
Day 2: Total-Body Muscle Endurance
Days 3 & 7: Flexibility + Mobility
Days 4 & 6: Plyometric Running Drills
Day 5: Core Strength
BONUS: Running Drills

Ironman Virtual Club Challenges

You’re probably aware of the Ironman Virtual Races by now, but the Ironman Virtual Club Challenges are equally as interesting. Ironman has tapped several of its top coaches and asked them to create challenges that club members can participate in. The challenges from coaches like Matt Dixon, Mark Allen, and Lance Watson range from things like “5 days of riding in a row” to “a mix of strength to match your cardio this week.” Log in to the club and navigate to “events” to see what the current challenges are. Ironman is also continually adding challenges from its partners. The challenges all offer various prizes to “three lucky finishers.” It’s a fun and interesting way to stay motivated, get those competitive juices flowing, and maybe win some new gear. Plus, it’s totally free (for now). 

4-Week 5K Series

The Run Solo Project was created in response to COVID-19 to give athletes the chance to compete—and support local running clubs, stores, and teams. The Challenge (which starts today and runs until May 24) requires athletes to run one 5K a week for four weeks. Pay $50 (and choose who you want to support), submit your runs each week, and then at the end, you’ll receive a technical Run Solo shirt and a handmade medal. Work to improve your time each week, or just have fun.

Zwift’s Tour for All

Zwift has been huge in getting athletes moving during the pandemic, with races for pros and organized rides, and now they’re adding a stage event that anyone can compete in. The five-stage Tour for All will run from May 4 to 30. Stages will be held across all time zones internationally. The challenge is to complete all five stages, but the twist is that there are a variety of ways to finish them. There will be group rides and runs with both long- and short-distance formats. There will be women-only events available as well.

The Tour will support Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in their response to COVID-19. Zwift will kick off the Tour with a $125,000 donation to MSF’s COVID-19 Crisis Fund and then match that donation at the end of the Tour if 250,000 Zwifters finish at least one stage. The schedule breaks down like this:

May 4 – May 7 – Stage 1: The Flats
May 8 – May 11 – Stage 2: Rolling Flats
May 12 – May 15 – Stage 3: Picture Perfect
May 16 – May 19 – Stage 4: Into the Clouds
May 19 – May 23 – Stage 5: Community Favorites

FitBit Adventures

Use your steps in real life to travel along virtual trails. With traveling on hiatus indefinitely, this challenge from FitBit is a nice one to take you on a journey without having to leave your neighborhood. By signing up for the FitBit Adventure Experience, you’ll receive a new challenge each morning to reach a new “destination” along a trail of your choosing. You can choose to do it solo or get your friends and family (up to 30 of them) to join you for the race on the trail. You can see where everyone is on the trail and even message within the app. The first to reach the peak wins. If you’re in the market for a FitBit, check out our thoughts on the FitBit Charge 4.

DIY 24-Hour Challenge

It’s time to see how creative you can get with your own virtual challenge. Come up with fun ways to see what kind of random challenges you can do. One of our ideas: the Day of Sweat Challenge. Run 20 minutes every other hour for an eight-hour workday. Or, try the Flexibility Challenge: roll out/stretch a muscle every hour. If you really want to go for it, take a cue from a group of triathletes who ran 5 miles every 4 hours for 24 hours—totaling 30 miles of running in one day.

View this post on Instagram

Yesterday was one of the most awesome days in my 15 years of endurance coaching. Races are cancelled for the foreseeable future and yet yesterday we had 20 athletes from #TeamHPB participate in an event “together” that pushed us all outside our comfort zones in the best possible way. We were spread across all of North America and yet every 4 hours, we convened before and after each of 6x 5-mile runs, which we all started together, regardless of time zone. This 30-mile day was truly a TEAM effort that for some folks yielded their life’s biggest run day, for others (me) a really big day at 9 weeks post-partum, and for others, the chance to knock 30 miles outta the park, finishing with 5 sub-7 minute miles in the middle of the night. Every single one of us pushed outside of our comfort zones because we were accountable to and supported by one another and the rest of our team. All. Day. Long. This was a team bonding experience for the books and yet we were, in many cases, thousands of miles apart. Pretty darn cool. So proud of this crew! #TeamHPB #ironman #triathlon #9weekspostpartum #runningmom

A post shared by Hillary Biscay (@hillarypbiscay) on

For the Family: Virtual Healthy Kids Running Series

If it’s your kids who need the push (away from the TV and the video games and outside into the fresh air), check out the Healthy Kids Running Series. They’ve taken their series virtual, and it’s a great opportunity to expose your kids to your passion for sport. The kids run the appropriate distance for their age group (see below) for five weeks and submit the results. At the end of the five weeks, kids receive a medal and a shirt. It’s already started, so sign up ASAP. The final week includes a parent one-mile time trial. So there’s motivation for you to keep moving too!

50 yard dash (150 feet) – 2/3 years old
75 yard dash (225 feet) – 4/5 years old
¼ mile (1,320 feet) – Kindergarten and 1st grade
½ mile (2,640 feet) – 2nd and 3rd grade
1 mile (5,280 feet) – 4th and 5th grade
1 mile (5,280 feet) – 6th, 7th, 8th grade

Triathlete Challenge: Tri at Home

Join our editors in the month of May as we train toward a final “race weekend” that will consist of a bodyweight strength effort, a bike, and a run. We’ll provide some community (join us on Facebook here) and the motivation to reach some new goals. The details of this virtual challenge will be revealed this Friday, May 1. Stay tuned!