If you’re anything like me, the energy you mustered behind your New Year’s Resolutions is likely starting to putter out, if it hasn’t died altogether. Daily yoga sessions quickly became every couple of days. Twice-a-week bike rides? Try twice a month. Take solace. We’re not alone. Studies show that 25 percent of Americans give up on resolutions just one week into the New Year.
At the root of our commitment crisis? Ambiguity. Setting concrete goals, and realistic ones at that, helps us stay motivated. Instead of saying, “I want to get outside more,” how about, “I want to compete in the Green River Games and finish.”
Make 2016 the year of no excuses. Check out these 41 regional events that are sure to make your quads crumble, your forearms scream, and your sides cramp. But no pain, no gain. No excuses.
Shut-In Ridge Trail Run
Asheville, North Carolina
November 5, 2016
One of the oldest trail races in the Southeast, the Shut-In Ridge Trail Run has been shutting runners down since its inception 38 years ago. Though the course is just shy of 18 miles long, it’s the elements that get you—leaf strewn, often-slick singletrack weaves and winds across the Blue Ridge Parkway, relentlessly climbing some 3,000-feet to the Mount Pisgah parking area. Set that against a backdrop of unpredictable November weather, be it snow, sun, rain, or all of the above, even the best of runners will need to dig deep on this beast.
Key to success: “You really just need to do the course. You don’t need to do all of your training on the course, and you don’t need to do it all at once, maybe in thirds or halves, but you gotta be good at both uphills and downhills.”
—Norman Blair, Owner, Jus’ Running, Race Director, Shut-In Ridge Trail Run
Dirty Dog 15K
Kanawha State Forest, W.Va.
James River Scramble
May 21, 2016
The Naturalist 25K and 50K
Mount Mitchell Challenge
Black Mountain, North Carolina
February 27, 2016
This 40-mile race isn’t just a challenge against the terrain, the elements, the competitors toeing the line beside you—it’s a challenge against yourself. Start at the break of dawn in the quaint town of Black Mountain. From there, you’ll climb 4,324 feet in the first 20 miles, so be prepared to feel the burn early on. Fortunately, the killer views of Mount Mitchell and the surrounding western North Carolina mountains should be stunning enough to at least temporarily relieve you of your pain. Key words: “should be.”
late November 2016
The Barkley Marathons
Frozen Head State Park, Tenn.
late March 2016
October 7-9, 2016
Peachtree Road Race
July 4, 2016
Celebrate freedom and fitness with 60,000 other runners during this 10K run. The largest road race in the United States, Peachtree is widely regarded in the South as a tradition. Kids, elders, seasoned runners, and novices alike will find their step among the crowd. Follow up your accomplishment with a night on the town. Nothing says “celebrate” more than an evening of fireworks.
Key to success: “Don’t underestimate the heat, humidity and hills. Make sure you are properly hydrated for race day, and be sure to incorporate some hills into your training.” —Rich Kenah, Executive Director, Atlanta Track Club