Running for a charity can massively boost your motivation when you're training for a marathon. However, it can be a challenge in itself to find the time for fundraising alongside the long hours of training. We asked Asics Frontrunner Kelly Ruck for her tips on how to smash your marathon goals for your chosen charity and have a great time along the way.
I started my marathon journey soon after starting to run. I spent the first year running 10k and half-marathon races, then signed up to run the London Marathon for Diabetes UK. Being a type one diabetic, I wanted another goal to challenge myself, but I also wanted to fundraise for a charity close to my heart. I’ve loved the longer distance ever since and have now completed three marathons and two ultramarathons. As I write this, my fourth, the Greater Manchester Marathon, is just on the horizon. I’m still learning lots about marathon training and managing my diabetes and family life alongside it, but every marathon and every training cycle teaches me something new.
Running for Charity
I have fundraised for charity on two of the three marathons I have run. It can seem quite daunting raising funds for your chosen charity whilst also completing months of time-consuming marathon training. But it can also be enjoyable especially if it is a charity you have a personal connection with. Here are some hints and tips I have found for successful fundraising.
- Make sure you have your fundraising link readily available and keep the link short and memorable. Show it on your social media sites., have it written down and pin it to a noticeboard at work.
- Share your link frequently. Talk about it to friends and family. Share it on social media, along with your story. Others are far more likely to take an interest if you share with a reason why you are doing it or a little insight into how much hard work you are putting into your training. You never know who will be inspired to sponsor you after seeing your post about getting through a long run.
- I have found that a huge amount of donations will come from thinking outside the box and getting creative. Your supporters will love to feel involved in some way. Virtual races or events are a great way to get others involved and also helps to spread the word about your fundraising. I organised a challenge of walking or running 5km. It was simple; participants paid a participation fee, completed their activity and emailed proof or photos of doing it. In return, they received their own shiny medal in the post. It was lovely to see so many different people take part, from runners to whole families on a weekend walk, to friends meeting up to go for a wander!
- Some more fundraising ideas that I found worked well were raffles, name a teddy, cake sales, reach a certain amount to do a funky (temporary) hair dye, and finally, sponsor a mile. This one was quite emotional but very popular. Sponsors chose a mile to be dedicated to someone. These were then printed on the reverse of my charity top. Not only was it a great source of fundraising, it was incredible motivation during the marathon, knowing that each mile was for someone.
Race Day Tips for Beginners
When it comes to race day there are a few tips I have picked up along the way.
- Always make sure you have tested what you are planning to wear on a long run. Especially true with charity vests. Chafe during a marathon can be awful, having experienced this during Berlin Marathon in 2017. I hadn’t worn the vest for more than a few miles in training. Come the big day, I had incredibly painful chafe under my arms. Backing up with anti-chafe stick or Vaseline beforehand is a must!
- Whether you are running for charity or for yourself, try and get your name printed onto your top, or pick up some iron-on letters. It makes a huge difference to hear someone cheer you on when calling you by name, especially when the chips are down are you are hurting in the final miles.
- Don’t try anything new. Stick to the fuelling you have practised during training. Hopefully, you will have trialled a few options on your long runs and know what sits well with you. Don’t chance trying new gels or grabbing whatever is on offer from supporters. Also, stick with the way you have been carrying your fuel. Again, something to practice on long runs. Whether you carry gels in a pocket, in a belt, backpack, find what is comfortable. 26.2 miles is a long way to go without discomfort from carrying your fuel.
- Know the course. I like to know where to expect water stations or significant points on the route. Not only does it help with preparation, but it also helps when running your race to break it down into more manageable chunks. I just try to get to the next water station. Then the next, and so on.
- Find out where your friends and family are going to be if they are coming to cheer you on, which mile, which side. It helps an awful lot if they have got something for you to look out for, to make them easier to spot. Inflatables and stand out signs are great for this.
- Finally, try and enjoy your race. You’ve spent months training for it, it’s the victory lap to celebrate. Smile, seek out the high fives and power-up signs and embrace the atmosphere.