Fun Workout Games that Spice Up Your Training With Friends
No one ever said running has to be a lonely schlog through your neighborhood after work every day.
When you add in friends to the equation, suddenly you’re running and socializing. Which, by the way, improves the physical benefits of exercise. We’ve compiled some creative workout games for how to make your run more interesting.
They all involve breaking out of your comfort zone a bit. That’s a good thing: removing the monotony from training can help you reach your next goal and make running more fun. Try a few of them with your friends next time you want to spice up a workout or just make a run go by faster.
Indian Runs (Three or more runners)
Run in a single file line. The runner in the back of the line runs up to the front of the line to take the lead. The group repeats this pattern for a given amount of time or distance. Indian running forces you to change pace periodically, which is good practice for rhythm changes in races.
There are a few variations of Indian running you can try. For a shorter, sprint oriented workout, the entire group picks up the pace significantly as the rear runner attempts to out-stride them to the front. The chasing runner decides when to make their move, which keeps the others guessing!
Relay Workouts (Two or more runners)
What’s more fun than a relay? A workout disguised as a relay. Pick a road loop or a grass loop in a park. Alternatively, find a track. Select a relay order using youngest to oldest age, or maybe favorite food in alphabetical order. The first runner completes the loop at a moderate pace and slaps hands with the second runner. Each runner’s rest period is the time it takes the others to complete their loops. When the relay comes back around, it’s your turn again!
Again, this can be a faster, shorter workout, or a longer, slower session. It’s up to you and your friends. If you want to make it really interesting, add body weight exercises like pushups, burpees, or sit ups to your rest breaks.
Telephone Pole Fartleks (Two or more runners)
Fartlek means “speed play” in Swedish, and this workout is all about exactly that: play. It involves increasing and decreasing your running pace periodically based on objects around you. There are a number of ways to do this one. Most fartlek workouts call for set amounts of time spent running at a faster pace before you drop back to normal pace. Instead, this workout involves pace pickups starting at objects called out by runners in the group.
For example, your running group could speed up when it passes a telephone pole on the road, and return to normal pace at the next pole. Or you can take turns calling out different objects for the pace pickups: “at the next mailbox” or “the next time we see someone wearing blue jeans”. The point is to engage in unpredictable and organic pace changes during your run.
Envelope Fartleks (Two or more runners)
Continuing with the speed play theme, another fun fartlek variation is picking pace increase durations out of a hat (or envelope) during a run. Pick the amounts of time you want to spend running faster before the run, write them on scraps of paper, and put them in an envelope. On the run, take turns randomly drawing a rep time. For example, you could place three 2:00, four 1:00, and six :30 fartlek reps in the envelope. Taking equal time recovery, this would add up to a 26 minute fartlek workout that’s bound to get interesting.
Stop Light Decision Run (Two or more runners)
If you live in a city and feel like straying off your normal run route, try letting the stop lights dictate where you go. Simply obey the walk signs when you come to each intersection. If the light is green, continue straight. If you come to a red light, turn down the block or turn and cross the street depending on if you have a walk signal. Sometimes you end up running around the block, and sometimes you end up running somewhere you’ve never been before. Make sure to obey traffic and pedestrian laws, and avoid unsafe areas of your city.
Destination Run (Two or more runners)
This one isn’t really a workout, but a different way to plan your run. Try running point to point instead of starting and finishing in the same place for a change. Maybe your group runs to brunch and takes a cab back. Or you arrange to be dropped off for a run back home. Something about destination running is pure. You feel as if you’re fulfilling the original purpose of running: to get somewhere.
Med Ball Run (Two or more runners)
The med ball run is a strength exercise done on shorter runs. Bring a six to eight pound medicine ball with your group on the run and take turns carrying it with both hands while running. If you really want to have fun, replace the med ball with a watermelon! Running with a weight forces you to maintain balance and engage your core and back. Of course it’s fun passing the ball back and forth during the run too.
Diagonals (Two or more runners)
Diagonals can be done as a stand-alone speed workout or after a normal run. Find an empty soccer or football field. Stand across from your running partner on opposite diagonal corners and run towards the opposite corner, passing your friend (stay to the right!) midway. Slow to a jog at the opposite corner. Then jog to the next adjacent corner, where you will begin your next sprint diagonally. Repeat and try to beat your friend to the center each time. These get your heart rate up quickly and provide a fun way to do speed work.
Try some or all of these running games when you’re finding it hard to motivate yourself or training’s been feeling dull. After all, running is fun! How do you spice up training?