Global Running Day 2024: How to race other runners, limited-time rewards, and tips

The Apple Watch badge for Global Running Day 2024
(Image credit: Apple)

Wednesday, June 5 is the 9th annual Global Running Day, an international event encouraging runners of all ages and abilities to get out and run. 

You don't need to do anything special for Global Running Day 2024 aside from strap on your running shoes and hit the pavement. You can tag your run with "#GlobalRunningDay" on your social media app of choice and probably get some love from fellow runners. Simple!

For those motivated by challenging other runners, rewards, medals, or other swag, we're here to help. You can find plenty of organizations, fitness watches, and running apps that treat Global Running Day as a serious event.

Here's how we recommend getting the most out of Global Running Day 2024!

Run (or walk) a virtual 5K

A Global Running Day 2024 cheer sign

(Image credit: NYRR)

New York Road Runners (NYRR) conducts the "official" Global Running Day 5K event. At that link, you can register for the event — it's free so long as you don't want to pay for a Brooklyn Half Marathon entry — and sync your Strava account. 

Once you're registered, you have until June 9 to run a 5K and upload it to Strava; your name and result automatically appear on the leaderboard and will climb the ranks if you upload a faster 5K in the contest window. Now you can compare your best effort against runners around the world, which is some awesome motivation!

Another major aspect of this event is fostering a love of running in children. You can also find a Virtual Rising NYRR Global Running Day Kids Run that encourages you to "pledge" to run or walk a mile with your kid between now and the end of June. Then you can print out a bib for your child to wear and a finisher certificate for them to hang afterwards, to reward them for working hard.

Find a local running club or event

Strava app showing Live Segment records

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

We can't list out every local running event out there, but plenty of organizations use Global Running Day as a pretense to gather for social running. They're typically open to newcomers and will run at a reasonable, matching pace. 

Check social event sites like Eventbrite or Meetup, or look at local Clubs in Strava, where they might list Global Running Day meetups. Then do a quick search for local running, sports, or shoe retail locations in your area; they often have running clubs that meet regularly at that storefront. Even if they don't, the store's workers may have scuttlebutt on local running events you may not know about!

Otherwise, I recommend simply Googling "Global Running Day [your city name]" and seeing what comes up. 

Motivate yourself with digital rewards or audio frights

Screenshots of the Fantasy Hike app

The Fantasy Hike app (Image credit: Forge7)

If you're more of a solitary runner, you may still get a rush of endorphins when your running watch or app gives you a reward for hitting certain fitness goals. If so, you may be interested to know that some brands specifically reward you for working out on Global Running Day.

Apple Watch owners who run at least 5K on Wednesday will get that limited-edition award in the photo above, for you to look at in your Apple Fitness award shelf. 

Garmin watch owners will get a limited-time "Global Running Day 2024 badge" simply by recording any running activity on June 5. It's not a "Challenge," so you don't need to opt into anything to get the badge.

I didn't find any other specific badges related to Global Running Day aside from the aforementioned Strava NYRR challenge badge. But you can still look at motivational running or walking apps like Walk the Distance or Fantasy Hike that convert your steps into progress towards a goal, or Zombies, Run! missions that will turn your 5K run into a life-threatening race against zombie foes that feels more meaningful.

Turn Global Running Day into a habit

The Polar Vantage V3, showing the wearer's VO2 Max score after a Running Fitness test.

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Everyone worries about making New Year's resolutions, but starting fitness goals in the middle of summer when nights are long and warm makes more sense. You can start a fitness renaissance on Global Running Day, and then try to keep up your momentum after work ends.

One simple goal almost anyone can accomplish (with dedication) is walking 10,000 steps a day for a month, as I did last summer. You can make your personal goal 6,000 or 8,000 steps; the number is mostly arbitrary, according to doctors, so long as you're generally moving and standing during the day. But walking consistently is the starting point for being able to run more consistently. 

Another goal is to improve your VO2 Max, or your body's ability to convert as much oxygen into energy as possible during exercise. Most fitness watches estimate your VO2 Max or "cardio fitness level" based on your activities, while Polar lets you test your VO2 Max directly. 

Regardless, improving this stat encourages you to make your runs more purposeful. Max-effort intervals, hill training, or sprints can all help you improve, but you'll also want to mix in low-aerobic activities at about 55–75% of your max heart rate, to improve your body's ability to move without immediately overworking your heart. Watches like the Garmin Forerunner 965 or COROS PACE 3 can help guide you on the right training to steadily improve.

If this is all getting a bit overwhelming, just remember this: Global Running Day 2024 isn't meant to be a gatekeeping event for runners, but rather a way to inspire anyone and everyone to join in on the experience. If you want to treat this as a one-off workout and leave it at that, then that's totally okay.

Now, get out there on the nearest trail, track, or treadmill and enjoy the day!

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, Wearables & AR/VR

Michael is Android Central's resident expert on wearables and fitness. Before joining Android Central, he freelanced for years at Techradar, Wareable, Windows Central, and Digital Trends. Channeling his love of running, he established himself as an expert on fitness watches, testing and reviewing models from Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, COROS, Polar, Amazfit, Suunto, and more.