Recommendations for a range of fitness levels
Sign up for your first 5K.
In a normal year, there is no shortage of race opportunities in Central Virginia, especially for those seeking a shorter distance such as a 5K. While the pandemic canceled many races or made them go virtual last year, we are hopeful that the 5K lineup will return to normal (or close to normal) at some point in 2021. Beginners can find a range of 5K training plans online, or seek out support from a trainer or friend with running experience.
Join an obstacle race with your family or friends.
From climbing walls to balancing teeter-totters, the Face the Forest race at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest in partnership with the YMCA is the only family-friendly event of its kind in our area. All ages are welcome at this annual event that also includes lots of mud—so don’t wear your brand new running shoes!
Face the Forest
Get out of your comfort zone with a new fitness activity.
Fitness amateurs can often catapult themselves into a healthier lifestyle simply by trying something new. A couple of ideas to get you started: try indoor rock climbing at Rise Up in downtown Lynchburg, play disc golf at one of the area’s numerous courses such as Peaks View Park, or rent a bike from Bikes Unlimited on Jefferson Street and explore the Blackwater Creek Trail.
Dip your toe into the world of triathlons.
For active adults who are ready to try the challenge of a triathlon, the Smith Mountain Lake Triathlon is a great place to start—but it’s also one that experts love competing in year after year due to the excellent conditions and mountain views. The swim features a sandy beach start and a crisp, clear lake.
The bike and run courses are rolling, but not too challenging.
Kinetic SML Sprint Triathlon
May 1, 2021
Hike a moderate/strenuous peak at sunrise.
We are beyond lucky to live in an area with so many gorgeous hiking opportunities. Typically, those boasting a level of moderate to strenuous have the best reward: a spectacular view of Central Virginia. A sunrise hike adds an extra layer of challenge because it likely requires an early weekend wakeup time—which we all know is difficult.
Tackle a long-distance bike race.
You don’t have to travel far to find a long-distance cycling opportunity right here in Central Virginia: the Storming of Thunder Ridge, hosted by Beacon Credit Union and the YMCA. With breathtaking views, this race has options for a range of abilities with a choice of 27-, 45-, 49-, 75- and 100-mile routes. The 27- and 45-mile routes are better for moderate cyclists, featuring rolling hills and back roads.
Storming of Thunder Ridge
May 23, 2021
Set a new long-distance running goal.
For those who have plenty of 5K T-shirts sitting in their dresser, and consistently beat your PR, it might be time to transition to a long-distance race. The Virginia 10-Miler is a great option because many local runners are already familiar with the shorter version. Or you could take a “racecation” to Richmond and join the city’s marathon, half-marathon or 8K.
September 25, 2021
November 13, 2021
Take your running skills to the next level with a trail race.
The Mountain Masochist Trail Race is a 50-mile course through the Blue Ridge Mountains that is a physically challenging combination of roads, jeep trails, and single track. You must train hard for this race—both physically, mentally and even spiritually, organizers say. This year, the race will start and end at Camp Montebello in Nelson County.
Mountain Masochist Trail Race
November 6, 2021
Start training for a long-course triathlon.
One of the most popular, and most difficult, long-course triathlon races is the Ironman—consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile run. We are fortunate to have an Ironman race in Roanoke that’s set for June of this year. If you haven’t started training yet, you may want to set your sights on the 2022 race to give yourself more time to prepare.
Ironman 70.3 Virginia’s Blueridge
June 6, 2021