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Add a Thursday Night Race to Your Training Regimen

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Who doesn't love starting their weekend a little early with a Thursday night happy hour? So, you might as well make that happy hour even happier by signing up for a Thursday night race.

    But post-race beer isn't the only reason to love Thursday night races:

    • They break up the monotony of training. When you're slogging through half or full marathon training, weeknight runs can start to feel like a mountainous chore. A Thursday night race with friends - or alone - can be just what the doctor ordered. Besides, isn't speed work more fun when you're actually racing against someone?
    • You don't have to wake up early. Saturday and Sunday morning races are fun, but so is sleeping.
    • They support good causes. Many Thursday night races encourage fundraising or give proceeds to local charities. There's nothing better than having fun and making a difference.

    Check out this summer's Thursday night race offerings in Chicago:

    June 26
    Disco Dash 5K & 10K
    Cash prizes will be awarded to the best-dressed male and female, so be sure to get extra funky at Soldier Field. Proceeds go to the Guaranteed Rate Foundation.

    Pride 5K
    Kick off Pride Weekend with a lakefront run and party at Diversey Harbor -- and then keep the party going all weekend long. Proceeds benefit Center on Halsted.

    July 10
    Bastille Day 5K/8K Run and Block Party
    This tres bien Lincoln Park tradition features a post-race party with live music, barbeque and beer while raising money for Mercy Home for Boys & Girls.

    July 15
    5th Annual Strike Out ALS 5K at U.S. Cellular Field
    OK, fine, this is actually a Tuesday night race. Close enough. White Sox fans can rejoice over the awesome Sox-themed top-finisher prizes and fundraising incentives as participants raise money for the Les Turner ALS Foundation.

    July 24
    Esprit De She 10K & 5K
    The women-only race franchise is coming to Montrose Harbor. Registration includes a one-year subscription to SELF magazine, and post-race tapas and a complimentary "beauty bar" make for a good girls' night out.

    12th Annual Run for Gus 5K Run/1 Mile Walk
    The event is named after Gus Evangelides, who died from a malignant brain tumor at just 21 months old. Head out to Diversey Harbor, have fun and be inspired as you raise money for pediatric brain tumor research and family services programs.

    July 31
    Chicago Firefighters Run for the Kids 5K
    Another good race at Soldier Field for an even better cause. Participants who raise more than $500 for the Ignite the Spirit Fund will receive VIP tent access and participants who raise at least $25 will be entered in a raffle.

    Aug. 14
    Elvis is Alive 5K
    Costumes are most definitely encouraged - race organizers even get you started with sunglasses and sideburns - at this self-timed event at Diversey Harbor. And of course, no post-race King-sized party would be complete without peanut butter and banana sandwiches, cold beer and an Elvis tribute band, thankyouverymuch.

    Aug. 21
    Rock the Night 5K
    The race formerly known as the Terrapin 5K has changed its tune; instead of catering to Dead Heads, the post-race Big Head Todd and the Monsters concert is for Todd Heads. Run the race and rock out at Soldier Field, or skip the 5K and just go for the beer and music.

    Maggie Jenkins is a comic, writer, runner and rapper. A four-time Chicago Marathoner -- training for No. 5 with Boston on the brain - she is a co-founder of the blog rulesforrunning.com. Find out more at maggiekay.org.