Running for a cause: Can it help you get over the line?

There are many reasons why people choose to run marathons, from general health improvement to the opportunity to socialise to self-esteem. However, one popular motivation is running a marathon for charity. Besides guaranteeing you access to some of the most popular marathons while raising money for a good cause, choosing to run for charity may also give you that extra motivation to get over the line.

Let’s look at why running a marathon for charity can give you that extra drive and desire to complete your race and keep going, even when training is tough.

How running a marathon for charity gives you extra ‘oomph’

With your chosen charity’s branding or bib over your running top, you might just find that extra motivation to keep you going when you hit the wall. Here’s why:

Psychological motivators

There are plenty of psychological reasons that choosing to run for charity can help you go farther. If you’re running for a cause close to your heart – perhaps a specific illness that has affected someone you know, or a local homeless charity you’ve volunteered at – being able to picture the people or issue you’re running for can be a huge motivator. It can add a lot of meaning to the marathon itself and help keep your mind focused during long – and lonely – training sessions.

Similarly, the feeling that you don’t want to let your target charity down can also be a big psychological factor in keeping you going with your training.

Sharing your goals can be a big motivator

There’s a general recognition that announcing your goal (such as running a marathon for charity) is a strong motivator to complete that goal. Once you’ve told enough people that you plan to do something, they are more likely to hold you accountable – and there’s a social pressure to follow through. Evidently, if you’re running the marathon for charity, you will ask friends, family and colleagues to sponsor you, so you’ll have to tell them about the goal. And that means you’re much more likely to stick to your training plan (rather than quietly giving up, when no one else knows).

Get cheered on by supporters

Getting cheered on by the crowds is one of the most exciting things about running a marathon – it gives you a huge morale boost, especially in tough stretches. While your friends and family may well support you at specific points, running for one charity in particular can give you even more of this support. That charity’s supporters are likely to see your charity’s brand or colours and cheer you on, even if they don’t know you personally.

Making new friends with other charity runners

Long-distance running can be tough if you’re constantly training alone – and you may find it hard to stay motivated. On the other hand, if you are running with a charity, you might find there are weekly training runs in your area with other supporters of that charity. Even if not, you might find there are groups you can join on social media or chat apps where you can post your times, discuss issues and share thoughts. All this can give you the extra motivation and support that you need to keep going further in training.

The charity itself will also offer support

In many cases, the charity you’re running for will offer you additional support before, during and after the race, which can help get you over the line. This might include things like personalised marathon training plans, insider tips on the marathon route, a special tent at the start or end of the race for massages and refreshments, and other kinds of advice. With all this extra help, you’ll feel supported and further motivated to keep going, even when the race gets tough.

Add meaning to your training

In marathon running, as in life, the feeling that you’re doing something for a bigger purpose can be an enormous motivator. Choosing to run for charity can keep you going during those long and lonely training runs, encourage you to jump out of bed on chilly mornings and keep you going in the final few miles. Without this ‘bigger’ motivation, it’s easy to get dispirited by injuries or other problems and perhaps give up. But with the higher motivation that running for a cause gives you, you might find it easier to keep pushing yourself those extra miles.

Running a marathon for charity can help you go further

While there’s no substitute for a solid training plan, durable equipment and listening to your body if it’s feeling fatigued, running a marathon for charity offers many benefits, especially when it comes to motivation. With the extra inspiration, support and community you can get from running for a charity, you might find yourself able to train, race and cross the finish more easily than if you were simply running for the sake of running.