THE CHARITY CHALLENGE

The Royal Parks Half Marathon, London
Sunday 9th October 2011 (14 weeks to deadline)

I’m at my best when I have a specific fitness target. It focuses me, directs my energies for 3 months or so, and having a certain distance or time I need to achieve certainly reduces the amount of excuses I make to not train! And the next charity challenge for me is the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October.

But, I won’t lie to you. I used to hate running as a kid, and probably mostly through my teenage years. What changed? A lot apparently. Firstly, running is now a choice for me, not an arduous school activity forced upon me. Secondly, it’s no longer outwardly competitive for me. Yes, people still get quite competitive with each other, but not me. I’m just pleased to do the distance in a reasonable time! And lastly, but not leastly, music. Thank goodness for the invention of the Walkman/then the MP3 player/now the Ipod!

My attitude to running started to change a few years ago when a friend and I started going for jogs a few nights a week. We started off slowly (my training up until that point included as little running as I could get away with) – the aim was to run a 5km race, and there were nights we drank wine and had a good goss sesh instead, but we did it. After the 5km race, I moved onto doing my first triathlon, then my first half marathon. I did the Run to the Beat half in a VERY average time of 2h10.

Now running is a big part of my training, and I actually really enjoy it (sometimes even love it!), so I’ve entered another half marathon. What’s the draw of a half-marathon?

  • For the UK-based people, doing it at the beginning of autumn is a great time. It means you train through the summer months, with light mornings and long days. Plus, running through the Royal Parks (Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Green Park and St. James Park) in central London when the leaves are turning will be lovely!
  • I think 21kms is a nice distance to run. It’s long enough to be a challenge and take some committment and training, but not too long that it seems unrealistic or daunting.
  • For those needing extra convincing: Weight-loss (I lost weight without even thinking about it) and toning (a full-body workout: arms, core and legs) – Bonus!
  • I will be running for charity too. Running for a charity has some benefits: it holds you accountable and committed to the race and everyone who donates (therefore, you must train!), and you get to do something good for other people, while doing something good for yourself : )

There are literally hundreds of amazing charities out there to pick from. I find it quite difficult to pick, as they all do great things: I’ve run for Cancer Research, Leukaemia & Lymphoma UK, and this year I’m quite excited to run for Starfish Greathearts Foundation! If you haven’t heard about them, they help children in Southern Africa who have been orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS.

So why not enter a race in the next few months, and do it for charity? I will be continuing with the blog, which will hopefully help keep your motivation up and offer support with your training. I will also share some of my own experiences with the training and some tips (gear, nutrition, playlists). I will post some training programmes for you to follow too if you like: whether you don’t do any running and want to be able to run 5km, or whether you want to build up to 21kms.

No worries though, the blog won’t only be about running, I promise! But if you are keen to take up the ‘Charity Challenge’ with me, it will hopefully be a good few months of exercise, overcoming challenges, building confidence and FUN! We could always organise some group training sessions and some fun group fundraising activities too!