17th April 2017 - Charity Running - Nat's story and 5 Top Tips

April 2017

It's 6 years today since our co-founder Nat Jackson ran the London Marathon - her second ever race! She's put together some top tips for beginner runners or those thinking about running their first race for charity. And her message is - you can totally do it!

I started running with a place in the London Marathon – perhaps not the traditional (or most sensible) way to get started – but that’s how it happened!

My motivation came from a desire to raise as much money as I could for a local hospice and the staff there who had supported my family at a very sad time. My brother-in-law Ben and I both entered the “ballot”. We’d read that 1 in 9 people got a place to run the marathon, although I later read that the year we entered had so many people applying it was more like 1 in 22. Somehow, unbelievably, I heard I had a place. “Lucky” me!! This was in the October, 6 months before the Marathon in April.

I’d never run a race before and I remember my first real run (outside and everything!) which I did in my lunch hour with a friend from work. We ran 2.2 miles. 24 miles less than I would have to run in 6 months. I remember sitting at my desk after lunch thinking “what have I done?!”. I had no idea how I would manage to run 26.2 miles (42km!) by April.

To cut a long story short I crossed the finish line in a time of 5 hour 56 minutes and 41 seconds. I have run countless other races since then but I don’t remember any race time like I remember my London Marathon time. A volunteer who placed the finishers’ medal around my neck looked into my eyes (and I mean properly looked) and said “It’s a big day isn’t it”. She had no idea. In fact, neither she nor I knew where finishing that Marathon would lead me.

The only thing that kept me going on some of those long training runs was the thought of the amazing work that the local hospice was doing. The harder I worked, the more I could raise to give something back. I think the running also helped me deal with the emotion of the situation, and feel like there was at least something I could do to make a difference.

All in all I raised over £2,400. That in itself tells you what a crazy thing it was for me to run a marathon. But what I learned was that if I could do it, anyone could. I really wasn’t a runner before I was lucky enough to get a place through the ballot. Emily and I now run Totally Runable, a social enterprise company empowering and inspiring others to find out what they are capable of. This for me is a way of paying forward that concept that we might never know what we are capable of if we have a little faith, in ourselves and in others.

If running is something you’d like to have a go at – my advice is to get out there. There are plenty of charities with running places available, and plenty of shorter races to be sponsored for – including the Wakefield 10k and 1k Mini Run which we partnered with for our second year in April as their Official Training Partner. To anyone thinking about it, I would say sign up. You might never know what you are capable of until you do, and you might just surprise yourself.

To help with whatever your charity running challenge might be, here are my top 5 tips for “Running for Funds”;

  • Set a target – setting yourself a fundraising target for how much you’d like to raise is a great way to tell your supporters what you are aiming for, and to motivate you to get out there and hit that target! Letting supporters know how close you are to your goal is also a great motivation for them to help you get there by donating an extra few pennies.
  • Share the impact donations will have - get in touch with your chosen charity and find out the impact of donations. What would a £10 donation mean to them? What about a £50 donation? How much does the great work they do cost each hour, each day or each week? Tell your sponsors what their support will really mean.
  • Tell your story – letting your sponsors know why your fundraising is so important to you is a great way to help them engage and support you in your efforts. Make sure you keep them updated on your training, and where you are in relation to your fundraising goal, to help them feel included in your journey. You might even want to create a fundraising web page. There are all sorts of fundraising site platforms available. Each site has a different way it makes money so make sure you do your research on how they work and which one suits you best.
  • Contact your local press – for raising awareness of your fundraising and the great work you are doing, the local press can be a great way to help spread the word. A few lines in the paper or on their website, or even a link to your fundraising web page would be great publicity. Get in touch and let them know what you are doing – you never know what they might be interested in.
  • Thank your sponsors – once you’ve crossed that finish line, don’t forget to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported you in your fundraising efforts. Saying thank you is really important to show people that you are grateful for their support. There are all sorts of ways to say thanks – from a Facebook message or tweet, text or email to a phone call. Tell them how much you raised and share your story with them – they will know they made a difference, and you never know who else you might inspire.

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