Welcome back, everyone! I’m sorry I missed last week’s podcast. I totally meant to get it done but we were camping at the Grand Canyon and I just didn’t get to writing it. 

We hiked South Kaibab to Skeleton Point and then came back up. The hike up is no joke but was easier than North Kaibab. Highly recommend both if you happen to be at the Grand Canyon. I will say more people were wearing masks at the South Rim than the North. Of course, there was one group that didn’t even have masks and one guy was wearing his don’t tread on me shirt. Insert eye roll here. 

Anyway, vacation was great, and definitely needed the time away in nature. But we are back to the real world and this week’s topic is running challenges! I have been doing a few of these this year. They are different from virtual races. They have reinvigorated my training and kept me going when I may have otherwise taken a break.

What are challenges? My definition is any running event that isn’t a race but isn’t just your daily training. So the first one I did this summer was the Aravaipa Summer Streak. The idea was to run 10 days. They had different levels and I picked the run at least 3 miles each day for a total of 30 miles at the end. Or run every street/trail in which you try to run every street in your HOA, Zip Code, City, and so on. I’m currently doing every trail in my local park. 

So a challenge really is about pushing yourself and completing some kind of task or goal.

I feel like each challenge has helped me improve and push myself. And without races, I need something to help push myself. Even with race training, I was getting stuck in a rut and not wanting to really train. Doing different changes has restored the fun and love of running that I had lost somewhere along the line.

I’ve done many of the Aravaipa challenges this year. I’m sure there are others out there. I haven’t done a lot of research but I think I’ve seen others mention different challenges. You can also make your own!. I’ve been thinking about this as well. So far I’ve come up with…. Nothing. Hah. But get creative! Challenge yourself to run X amount of miles a day for X days. Like 4 miles a day for 4 days? 40 days? I like repeating or matching numbers.

The idea is to set a parameter and a time limit. The time limit is important because if you leave it open-ended you may never finish. At least I won’t. Like the Every Damn Trail challenge is from September to December. I plan to finish everything in November. I have a few challenges to work around because part of the park is closed through mid-November. I’ve got some wiggle room though. Then I’ve decided I want to tackle another park as my own, personal challenge. I’ll probably give myself three months to complete, so like December to February. Not too easy but also a little challenging.

Start brainstorming or hit up google for some ideas and get planning!

Let’s take a quick break.

And we’re back!

I am also debating a run every street in my HOA or zip code. If you can’t tell, I really like these run every X challenges. It’s just such an easy parameter but then actually planning your routes gets to be interesting. You don’t want to re-run a bunch of streets or trails so how can you most efficiently do it?

I don’t recommend missing a turn when you write down your trails because then you have to rethink on the fly and redo all your subsequent runs. Just an idea. Not like that happened to anyone here.

Ok, enough with the every whatever. How about a last person standing challenge? There is one coming up in November but you could make your own with local or virtual friends. Set a distance and do that every hour on the hour and last one to drop out wins! So you could do run a mile every hour (or every 30 minutes). You’d have a check in at the start of each time period. It sounds like fun. 

I haven’t done one yet but I’m thinking about signing up for Lone Cactus Standing in November. It’s run 4.16667 every 60 minutes. I’d be one of the first to drop out. I could maybe do 2-3 rounds. Maybe. Depending on how fast I could get the mileage done. I’m slow. I wouldn’t have much downtime between rounds. But the idea is intriguing. 

Some other things I’ve seen is run a mile every hour for 24 hours. Or do a 4x4x24 where you run 4 miles, every 4 hours for 24 hours. You can always make up your own, depending on your level of crazy. Like I would do 1x1x5, one mile every hour for 5 hours. 

I’ve seen people incorporate other exercise into their run. Why not do 10 push ups or hold a plank after every mile? What else could you do? Jumping jacks. Pull Ups if you are near a playground with monkey bars. You can throw in some agility movements like toe taps on the curb. Run a mile, do a minute of high knees and repeat. If your playground has steps you could do some mid-run box jumps or step ups (or maybe a stable picnic table? Don’t hurt yourself with these!) You could pretty much do an entire plyo workout at a park. Pick a park a good distance away, maybe 2 miles, run there, do your plyo workout in the grass and using playground equipment, then run home. 

If you want to get faster why not find a new speedwork to do each week? The Nike Running app has a ton of different ones built in. You could do a different one each week and not get bored or repeat for a while. 

If you have the mileage or want to build up to it, challenge yourself to do a 5k, 10k, half, and full marathon in the same month. If you’re up for an even bigger challenge, why not do your own version of the Disney Dopey challenge? All four race distances in four days. 

The thing with challenges is to challenge yourself. Duh, right? You want to find the balance between too easy and too hard. You want something that will test yourself but you can still succeed at. 

What challenges have you done or what can you come up with? Let me know! I’m sure there’s so many I haven’t even thought of! You can leave a voice message on anchor.fm/runsonespresso, drop a comment on the website, runsonespresso.com then head to the podcast page. Or message me on instagram at runs_on_esspresso. Can’t wait to hear what challenges you’ve done or have come up with!

Now for coffee corner… I’ve been mostly trying to catch up with podcasts and Rachael Ray tv show. With our vacation week I didn’t listen to any podcasts or watch my TV shows for the week. So, last weekend I caught up with those Rachael Ray shows but then this week I didn’t watch because I was trying to catch up on my podcasts. Clearly I listen to too many podcasts. 

I also finally finished Salem’s Lot. It was 650 pages so it’s like 3-4 regular books. I did write a short review on runs on espresso.com/ blog if you want to check it out. 

Oh, and I see the new Unsolved Mystery episodes are available. I will be binging these soon!

Well, that is all I have for you this time. Until next time, may your runs be as strong as your coffee!

Categories: Podcast


Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.