Running to fundraise – seven steps to help you succeed
Posted by Rosie Iron
Two years ago my brother completed Arch to Arc, a triathlon from London to Paris covering over 460km, including swimming the channel. He raised more than £35,000 for charity. People’s generosity struck me, along with their recognition of both the challenge he was doing and the charity he was raising for. This immense achievement motivated me to take up running and fundraise.
Millions of pounds have been raised by people running marathons. And not just the 26.2 mile-kind. A ‘marathon’ is personal, unique to you, unique to me. From a 5k Park Run to the multiday, 250km Marathon des Sarbles, everyone has their challenge.
Running to fundraise creates a symbiotic relationship benefiting both charity and runner. Runner gets fit, but it also brings an immense sense of achievement. If like me you have a feeling of helplessness towards causes you are passionate about, this is your help. Large charities have the benefit of marketing power to publicise and even run events. Smaller charities with equally worthy causes have a quieter voice. This is one of the reasons why I continue to support Nuevas Esperanzas. Not only have I witnessed the work they do, I understand how much a contribution of any kind can mean.
Training for an event is a rocky road; a tumultuous journey with highs and lows. But every pitfall, every bad run, every injury or loss in confidence can be counteracted by a personal best, discovery of a new favourite route, or a good run with a friend. The following seven steps are what I have learnt over the past few years. I hope they will motivate and prepare you for your event.
1. Push yourself
Why run a 5k when you can do 10? Why run 10km when you can do a half marathon? Why not a full? Okay, so a full marathon is not for everyone, but my point is that you can push yourself further than you first think. Mentality could hold you back more than your physical ability.
2. Your feet are your transport
We all lead busy lives, and finding time to train can be difficult. Incorporating running into your daily commute can be a convenient way of getting miles under your feet. If you have to negotiate several motorways to get home (I practically step out of work onto one), try doing this at the weekend. Suggest catching up with a friend on a run instead of in a cafe. Or run to town to do errands. Be careful to take extra layers in winter, as your body temperature will drop quickly following your run.
3. No foot, no run
Do not underestimate the power of a blister to stop you in your tracks. Experiment with plasters, bandages, double-layered socks, anything to prevent rubbing. When buying trainers, consider the race you are doing. Running for several hours causes your feet swell. If you are doing a marathon make sure your trainers have room to account for this. And when did you last stretch your feet? I first did this in Pilates and was amazed at how stiff and creaky they were. How light and relaxed they felt after. Google some stretches and treat your feet.
Rosie performing bacteriological analisis in a public water post in the community of Unión España during her time volunteering in Nicaragua.
4. Look after your hardworking muscles
Stretching is integral to your workout. If you are tight on time, knock off that last mile and give those ten minutes to stretching. If you feel like something is not right, do not be afraid to book physiotherapy or sports massage. I found acupuncture to be the most transformative solution. It pinpoints (literally!) problematic deep-tissue areas without causing pain to surrounding muscles. Do your research before booking any kind of treatments to ensure you see a reputable therapist.
5. Eat, drink (and be merry!)
I am not talking about fine dining and alcohol here, but nutrition and hydration can turn a hard run into a happy one. You will learn to read your body. I know when I am energy-low as I start getting irritable or emotional. Dehydration is serious, so make sure to have water with you if you are out for more than an hour. Food or sports drinks can prevent you from ‘hitting the wall’ that many marathoners talk about. You expend significant calories and salts. Replenish them at regular intervals to stop fatigue. Choose something you enjoy, and test them during training to prevent any nasty surprises on the actual day. I find sports drinks unpalatable, instead having nuts, bananas and chocolate milk to keep me going.
6. Go explore
The versatility of running means you can take it anywhere, and it can take you anywhere in return. It is a great way to explore new or local areas. Even in cities, you can unintentionally find pockets of natural beauty and tranquillity. Look for footpaths and national trails, and take your running shoes on holiday for your own sight-seeing tour.
7. It is not just about the run
Running itself does not raise funds. Tell friends and family what you are doing and why you are doing it. Plan events like coffee mornings and bake sales to raise awareness. Creating a fundraising page can be an easy way of sharing your story and asking people to donate.
Most of all… keep going. As long as you are putting one foot in front of the other in the right direction, you will make it. Good luck!
Rosie is running her first official ultra-marathon event, Sussex CTS, on the 19th of March. She is fundraising for Nuevas Esperanzas. Donate through JustGiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Rosie-Iron100