You don’t have to be a kid to partake in the joy and excitement of celebrating your birthday, but as a runner, you may celebrate it a tad differently, like with birthday workouts! After all, your birthday is the one day of the year where your very existence is celebrated as a momentous occasion, and let’s face it, it is a special day because you are special.
Unfortunately, unless you’re excited about graduating to a new age group bracket in races where you’ll be the speedy young gun, most adults feel at least a modest amount of dread on their birthday at the thought of getting older.
However, you can turn this ship around and make your birthday one of your favorite and highly anticipated days of the year simply by injecting fun and joy in the form of special birthday workouts or runs every year.
Birthday workouts can be a joyous way to mix up your normal routine and play with numbers creatively. Below, we’ve put together a list of nine fun birthday workouts for runners to honor your age as you honor your life and honor your identity as the awesome runner you are.
We think the hardest part will be picking just one. Have a very happy birthday and the best birthday workouts you’ve ever had!
Birthday Workout #1: Run Your Age
Probably the most popular of the birthday workouts is to take on a long run with a distance equivalent to your age. Obviously, the older you get, the harder this challenge becomes.
Some true ultra runners and endurance warriors run a birthday long run with their age in miles as the target distance, but most runners are better served using kilometers. Even so, once you get much past the age of 40, you’re looking at a birthday workout that surpasses a regular marathon.
As an alternative, you can run the number of minutes according to your age.
If you love running and want nothing more than to spend the bulk of your birthday doing the very thing you love the most, this is the birthday workout for you.
Birthday Workout #2: Track Laps
If you like the idea of running your age at distance but simply don’t have the time, energy, stamina, or body able to handle double digits in mileage, head to the track and run one lap per year of life.
Since each 400m lap of the track is about one-quarter mile, you’ll run a total of 10 miles if you are turning 40 years old, 12.5 miles if you are 50, 15 miles if you are 60 years old, and so on . This birthday running workout can be a much more reasonable and feasible approach for many runners than going by miles or kilometers only.
You can even add variety to the workout by making the first or last lap of every mile or decade as fast as possible or playing around with pace in other ways.
Birthday Workout #3: Tempo Run
Why not do a birthday run and speed workout all in one? You can do a birthday threshold run or tempo run by warming up for a mile or two and then ramping up to threshold pace for the number of minutes of your new age in years.
For example, if you are turning 42, warm-up for 10 minutes at an easy pace and then run 42 minutes at half marathon pace. Follow it up with a cool down to reach whatever mileage you’re aiming for.
Birthday Workout #4: Hill Repeats
Depending on your age this one may be more or less desirable, as too many hill repeats can overload your calves, glutes, and hamstrings. However, if you want to take on a short hill and feel yourself climbing to new heights with every year and every repeat, a birthday run of hill sprints can be a fun and metaphorically meaningful birthday workout.
Run one repeat per year of life and think of all the challenges you’ve conquered and milestones you’ve achieved.
Birthday Workout #5: Strides
This is a fun birthday workout for runners wanting to kick off their next year of life with a speed workout.
Run a few miles to warm up, then head to the track. Run a 100m stride for each year of life. Jog the curves and then sprint each straightaway. You’ll get two strides per lap of the track, so if you’re turning 40, you’ll be on the track for 20 laps or 5 miles.
Focus on your form and commit to never letting your age make you feel like you have to run slowly.
Birthday Workout #6: Fartlek
A fun birthday run idea is to do a fartlek with one-minute intervals for each year of life. It will end up being a pretty long run, but also a solid workout to log in to your training journal.
Warm-up for 5-10 minutes and then run 1 minute on, 1 minute off according to your age. Cool down for at least five minutes.
Birthday Workout #7: Intervals
Runners often do 400s, 800s, 1000m, or mile repeats, but why not do a birthday run that uses your age as an interval distance?
For example, if you are turning 37, run one or more hard 3700m repeats. If you are turning 59, you’ll run one or more 5900m intervals. You can do one all-out, or run multiple repeats depending on your fitness goals.
Birthday Workout #8: Age Surges
A more unique birthday running idea is to use the two digits of your age to dictate the intervals or surges you add into your run. The first number, the decade, will be the number of repeats you run and the second number is the duration in each interval. Depending on your age and fitness level, you can use minutes or miles for each surge.
For example, let’s say you are turning 34. You will run three surges of four minutes or four miles. If you are turning 51, you’ll run five times one minute or five times one mile. Someone turning 49 would run four intervals of nine minutes (probably not miles on this one!).
Birthday Workout #9: Reps for Years
This is less of a birthday run but is an awesome strength training birthday workout. The concept is to use your age for the number of reps you’ll do. It works really well for bodyweight exercises, but can also be used with dumbbells or weights.
For example, you can complete the following bodyweight birthday workout:
If you are turning 45, try to do 45 reps of each exercise before moving on to the next. Be prepared for a little soreness the next day, but listen to your body and stop if you reach fatigue.
So, how are you going to celebrate your birthday as a runner this year? Which one of our fun birthday workouts will you choose to do?
If you are looking for other ways to spice up your training program, take a look at our progression run workouts!