19 Dec

Community Spirit

Members of the 5x50 team

Taking part in a communal fitness task is a good way of raising money for charity, and can also help motivate you to go running at times when your couch seems more appealing. By taking part in a challenge you are joining a community where you can share information and generally help each other stay focused. We looked at four of the most popular fitness challenges around.

The Marcothon

Year 5 of Marcothon is currently in progress. It started in 2009 when runner Marco Consani challenged himself to run every day in November, prompting his wife Debbie to follow suit the next month. Debbie dubbed the feat 'the Marcothon' and spread the word via her blog. It wasn't long before other runners decided to join in and in the last three years it has grown to having almost 1000 people from around the world taking part.

Debbie told us: "The response to Marcothon has been overwhelming. Even the runners who haven't signed up before are keen to participate after missing out on all the fun and banter in previous years. It's great that it attracts different levels of abilities - from beginners to international athletes - who all share the common goal of surviving 31 consecutive days of running through the winter conditions and party overindulgence. The camaraderie and support is amazing. Come 1 January, I miss my fellow Marcothoners."

Janathon

Similar to the Marcothon, Janathon requires participants to do some form of exercise every day in January with the added requirement of blogging about it within 24 hours. To take part, simply join the Janathon group at the Running Free website where you can keep a log of your runs/exercise. You are also recommended to visit other blogs, leave comments and generally support one another.

5x50

Over 5000 people from 43 countries took part in the inaugural 5x50 this year. The task requires people to run, walk jog or cycle 5k every day for 50 days. Amongst those taking part were Scottish songstress Michelle McManus and Deacon Blue drummer and television presenter Dougie Vipond.

Emma MacLeod, who regularly enters races, decided to give the challenge a go. She said of the experience: "The 50 days went in a lot quicker than I expected. I already did a bit of running and cycling two or three times a week so it didn't feel like I had to do too much extra. That said, there were several occasions when I really had to push myself for the motivation to get up and do the 5k where normally I wouldn't have made it out.

"Taking part in the challenge was great as it gave me the extra bit of motivation I needed on the difficult days. It has made me realise that generally it's not that difficult to squeeze in some exercise on a daily basis and I'm hoping to keep it up in the future.

Next year's 5x50 will kick off on Sunday 31 March.

The Longest Day Run

A slightly less rigid format than the others, the Longest Day Run involves running as many miles as you can over one weekend in June. Those taking part can do one long run, 10 short runs, or a combination of runs over the time period. There are no set distances so the challenge is ideal for those who aren't confident runners, allowing them to tailor it to their own level of running.