As you may have heard, I recently ran my first race as a charity runner!
I joined forces with the Team in Training crew for the Goofy Challenge this year, and really had a pretty enjoyable experience.
Does that mean that everything was smooth sailing and all of my expectations were met/exceeded?
My Charity Running Experience
My experience is, obviously, nothing more than my experience.
I just want to put that out there before I get into any of the nitty-gritty details.
As I’ll get into, there were some aspects of the experience that were really pretty awesome.
And others? Well, it wasn’t all perfect from my perspective.
But is that the fault of TNT?
Or did I have some unrealistic expectations going into this endeavor?
Honestly? It’s probably more of the latter than the former.
I don’t think there was anything I was more disappointed with than the “coaching” I received to help me train for the event.
Now, obviously, I have a certain view of what qualifies as good/competent coaching.
And if I’m honest, it would be hard for me to really expect that group coaching would meet my expectations for good coaching.
That said, the “coaching” I received was pretty bad.
When I signed up, my coach assigned me a generic training plan designed for beginners.
Clearly, this was nothing more than a one-size-fits-all plan.
And you know how I feel about such garbage…
I was then told that if I wanted a more advanced plan, there were intermediate and advanced plans available. All I needed to do was send the coach a message and ask to have my plan changed.
I did that and got bumped up to a higher mileage one-size-fits-all plan.
But one-size-fits-all is one-size-fits-all…
Obviously for me, this wasn’t a major issue.
I had no problem ignoring the training I was “supposed” to do and doing the things that I knew I needed to do.
But for someone that is really looking forward to some good coaching as part of their fundraising/charity running experience?
I certainly can’t speak for every organization, nor can I speak for every coach associated with TNT. But I couldn’t have been more disappointed with the level of “coaching” I received leading up to the race.
Race Weekend Experience
Honestly, going into the weekend, I was pretty meh about my whole experience.
For the most part? My meh was related to the coaching, or lack thereof, that I felt like was delivered along the way.
I was also pretty meh about the fact that the “team” aspect of Team in Training seemed pretty much non-existent.
I kept hoping that the TNT FB group would blow up. Become a “team hub” where many (most? all?) of the runners could get to know each other a bit so that when we all got to Florida it would be an awesome “family reunion” type of situation.
Yeah, that didn’t exactly happen.
So going into race weekend, there were pretty much two strikes already in place in my mind.
But the weekend of the event itself?
Everything that I was “meh” about in the months leading up to the event was pretty much turned completely upside down.
The support. The love. The mission.
The weekend was awesome, hands down!
Seeing other runners out on the course in their purple was motivating.
Having various TNT coaches jump onto the course to run with you for a few minutes wasn’t necessary for me. But for those that were really struggling? I’m sure that was a huge boost!
And hearing “Go Team” too many times to count? Certainly felt, for the first time, like I was part of the Team.
Honestly? Not as rough as I thought it would be.
That said, the next time I do an event as a charity runner, there are plenty of things I will be doing differently than I did this time.
Here are a few things I’ll be doing differently, some starting right now, before my next charity running adventure.
- Find a Cause That is Personal: While I have no doubt that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society are doing excellent work, I (thankfully!) don’t have a personal connection with the charity. I think that if I did, it would have been much easier for me to share what I was doing and ask for donations. And if I end up running with Team in Training again, which is certainly a possibility, I’ll be sure “adopt” someone else’s story to share while I’m raising funds.
- Warm Up the Network: You know what kind of sucks? When you haven’t talked to someone in months/years, and the first contact you have with them is when you ask them to support your fundraising endeavors. A better bet? Stay in touch with those folks in your network that you don’t talk to regularly. A random email or text message or FB message every few months? Just asking how they are doing? Do that a couple of times and they will be much more likely to respond positively when you what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
- Creativity FTW: When it comes to raising money, there’s nothing like a little creativity to get things moving in the right direction! Without a doubt, my biggest fundraising moments were when I was running the marathon on the treadmill and the Diz Days of Summer challenge. Sure, I got some other donations here and there, but the spectacle of those events definitely helped bring in the funds. Thinking outside the box, maybe like taking part in the Small World Challenge, is a great way to get some massive chunks of support!
I’ll Be Back
All things considered, I’ll definitely do another event as a charity runner at some point.
Will it be in 2020? 2021?
Will it be with Team in Training? Another organization?
The jury is still out on this one.
But somewhere down the line, probably sooner instead of later, I’ll be running another race for a charity.
So stay tuned!
Have You Ever Done a Race as a Charity Runner? What was Your Experience Like?
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