Time to Plan Your Summer Fun Runs and Charity Walks
Fun runs and charity walks are great motivation, whether you’re a running newbie, looking for a new way to stay fit, or coming back to exercise after a hiatus. Best of all, many of these events are available for all abilities and fitness levels, making them an excellent reason to lace up your sneakers.
If you’ve never participated in fun runs or charity walks before, it might feel a little intimidating. The good news is these events are low-pressure. Often, you’re moving for a good cause, and all you need to do is show up.
If you’re getting back to fitness after an injury, it’s essential to follow your physician’s guidance. If you’re experiencing discomfort, don’t push through the pain. Reach out to the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin to discuss your road to recovery. We’re here to help.
Do you think you’re ready to try a fun run? Here’s what you need to know to get ready for a summer charity run or walk.
Fun Run or Charity Walk: Which Should You Choose?
You’ve decided that a fun fundraising event is the right fitness opportunity for you and you are ready to get fit in the new year. Great! So now, which one should you choose? If this is your first time doing a charity fitness event, look for something that fits your skill level.
Charity runs or fun runs are often short distances (typically under 5K), making them accessible for various ability levels, age groups, and preferences. That said, if this is your very first event, a charity walk can be a great way to familiarize yourself with the process, with little training required and keep you moving towards a healthy 10,000 steps a day!
Most charity walks allow you to go at your own pace and finish on your timeline, within reason. Some events have participants work in teams to meet their own fundraising goal. If you’d prefer to participate without soliciting sponsors, that’s usually okay too. The entrance fee often goes toward the charity, and employees or volunteers typically staff the events.
Keep in mind that many fun runs and charity walk events also offer several distances and participant options. Some charity events will feature a kids’ run, a walk, a short distance run, or occasionally a 5K race or timed event. The key is to find an event that appeals to you and go for it!
How Do You Find Charity Runs and Charity Walks?
Do you have a favorite non-profit or cause? You can search for events that support charities near and dear to your heart at Run for Charity. Also, check with the charity itself. Some smaller organizations may hold events without much promotion or fanfare.
Running in the USA is an excellent resource for finding running and walking events based on distance, date, location, and other factors. If you’ve set your goal for a summer event, search the listings for summer runs and walks to find an opportunity nearby.
Finally, if you find the idea of raising money for a cause motivating, but can’t find the right event, consider setting up a goal on a site like GoFundMe. Ask friends and family to sponsor you as you work toward a particular fitness goal or milestone. For inspiration, read the story of the late Captain Sir Tom Moore, the centenarian who raised funds for local hospitals and healthcare by doing laps around his yard. He raised nearly $45 million and even received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth for his outstanding efforts.
You can raise funds daily using an app like Charity Miles, which deposits a small amount toward charity each time you complete a fitness goal. Other apps like stickK work the opposite way. You put in funds, and each time you miss your goal, an amount is given to a cause you’d rather NOT support. It all depends on what motivates you—the carrot or the stick?
How Long Do You Need to Train for a Fun Run?
If you’re hoping to complete a charity run or walk, what should you expect in terms of training? Fortunately, these events are a great way to test the waters before you sign up for a longer run, race, or athletic event. Some participants love to really push themselves with an extremely challenging first goal like a 10K, half marathon, obstacle run, or triathlon.
But if you’re new to the world of fitness events, set yourself up for success by building on a series of small wins. Start with a charity walk, build to a fun run, and then go for a 5K when you are ready. This incremental progress can help you avoid injuries that can derail your training. One of the most common ways runner’s injuries occur is going too hard, too soon. Remember, slow and steady!
When you’re ready, there are tons of fun run options out there—from glow-in-the-dark events to superhero runs, runs with pets, food-themed runs, and plenty more. The most important part of success is to find an event that appeals to you and keep your participation enjoyable! These events are often zero-pressure, so they give you a chance to train with a goal and feel great when you finish.
If you’re looking for a more robust training plan, consider a “couch to 5K”-type training plan (several are available as apps), or set up an incremental goal each week. For example, week one may be to walk for 10 minutes per day, 12 minutes week two, and so on. If you’re running, try starting with a 1-minute run, 1-minute walk and slowly increase your run sets by 30 seconds every few days. Before you know it, you’ll be walking or running for several miles!
As usual, listen to your body while you’re training. If there’s an area that feels uncomfortable, pull back on the throttle. Rest days are just as important as activity days when your body is training. Rest time is when your body repairs and builds new muscle, so make it part of your training plan as well.
What Should You Expect at a Fun Run or Walk Event?
You’ve found your event, maybe raised some funds, and now the big day has arrived! What should you expect at your first fun run or charity walk?
Well, some event coordinators may request you pick up your “packet” the day before your run. Some mail your packet out, especially if the event is virtual (in which case, you complete the run on your own route and time frame when you’re ready). Typically, the packet will include a race bib with a number and pins for your shirt, fun swag like a shirt, medal, scarf, accessory, and occasionally some other information, coupons, and sponsorship info. Some events may have you pick up your packet on-site before the event kickoff.
On the day of your event, wear comfortable, supportive shoes! Whether it’s a fun run or a charity walk, good shoes are crucial for your health and safety. You may want to dress up if the run has a theme and get into the festivities. Don’t forget to pin your race bib to your shirt. It’s a good idea to bring along a few extra safety pins and a Band-Aid or two.
Arrive at the event early, so you have time to get settled and get your bearings. It’s wise to bring a fanny pack or pouch to keep your hands-free. Bring your fitness tracker or watch if you like to use those tools during your workout. While water isn’t always crucial for short distances, it’s a good idea to stay hydrated—a small bottle can also fit in your fanny pack. Most events also offer water or Gatorade throughout the action.
You’ll meet at the starting line, at the designated time. The event coordinator will instruct you at the start, and then you’ll hear the action kickoff and begin! From there, all you need to do is follow the crowd and have fun!
Many charity walks and runs will also have information about the organization or cause. If you’ve raised money on your own, ask about the donation process for the organization. At fun runs, there may be treats, bands, or even adult beverages. It’s all about having a good time while you keep your body moving!
If you’re ready to have fun with fitness, don’t miss the opportunity to try a charity walk or fun run this summer. Take time to train and prepare so you can feel comfortable going the distance and finishing the event. If you experience any discomfort or have concerns during your training, don’t hesitate to contact the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin. We’re here to help you enjoy pain-free exercise and activity!