On The Run

Six Reasons You Should Run For A Cause

Once I completed training for my ultra-trail at the end of February, the one I ended up not doing, I took a week off to regroup and then embarked on an 8-week program in pursuit of a self-timed sub-2:15 Half in May. But even with this goal, I felt… for lack of a better word – lost. Although 2020 taught me that I can run without races, to a large extent, I held it together knowing that this situation was only temporary. But when 2021 rolled in without much hope of races returning, I felt disheartened. Yes, I’m good at setting goals and finding ways to make my runs enjoyable, but racing for me is a huge part of running. So that sense of longing that I’ve been able to shift to the back of my mind – pinning the race bib on my outfit, meeting friends at the start, feeling the energy of the crowds and the medals at the end, resurfaced with some intensity.

To make matters worse, a directive from the Government of Botswana issued in late February, banned people from running in groups and I just started to feel we were backsliding. Moving beyond the issue of running, there are just so many stories of families struggling with heart-breaking losses, a painfully slow vaccine roll-out and then the looming financial crisis from multiple lockdowns and curfews, already noticeable in skyrocketing prices and job losses.

It was as I was navigating all these thoughts and emotions that I spotted Mina Guli’s World Water Run Challenge on social media. Starting on 16 March, Mina was organising a free 7-day virtual run around the world in support of World Water Day on 22 March. A lawyer by profession, Mina uses ultra-marathon running to advance the global conversation about the world’s water crisis and in this endeavour has worked with global organisations and governments on several projects. Click here to read more of her inspirational story.

I was quick to sign up and over 7 days, I ran my pledged 42km whilst rallying as many people as I could to join the movement. All the water flyers in this blog are just some of those provided once you registered. A few days after the Challenge ended, I heard about another challenge – this time it was a call from a charity group, Ladies Circle Botswana, to run 100km in 15 days starting on 1 April, to help complete Happy Hearts Home which is an interim home for children receiving cancer treatment in Gaborone. I’m 45km in and as with the Water Challenge, I already feel I’ve gained so much. Participating in these challenges has inspired today’s blog.

Six Reasons You Should Run For A Cause

1/ Your Runs Feel More Fulfilling. The reasons we run vary from runner to runner but many are centred on keeping fit, improving mental health and socialising. Running often gives me renewed energy to tackle various life challenges. But I’ve found running for a cause makes my runs feel more fulfilling. The World Water Run was important to me as Botswana has experienced several droughts over its history which have significantly affected harvests, livestock, wildlife and people. Water is extremely valued and is reflected across various national symbols – our currency “Pula” means rain and the blue on our flag represents water. Our coat of arms includes three waves symbolizing water with our motto “Pula” inscribed on a blue ribbon at the bottom. More recently, there has been a push by Government to classify drought as a permanent feature in budget plans. So this challenge made me run with intention and heart.

2/ You Gain And Raise Awareness For A Cause. Often the cause you’re drawn to is something that is close to your heart. But even if the cause is important to you, there is always so much more to learn. So although I’m familiar with water shortages in the context of Botswana, as the week wore on, I saw that water is not just a problem for a select few countries. The information Mina and other runners shared really helped to broaden my scope of the world’s water crisis, moving my awareness beyond the borders of Botswana.

Running for the Happy Hearts Home in Gaborone has also brought a lot of learning. When you live in the city with its privileges, you often forget that others are not in the same situation. Finding out that children from outside Gaborone undergoing cancer treatment often have to travel long distances to get here and then make the long journey back home, risking possible complications from side-effects, was eye-opening. Happy Hearts Home aims to give these children and their guardians a “home away from home” while they are receiving treatment in Gaborone. And then of course, by sharing your runs and information you help to raise awareness of issues to people who may have no knowledge or experience of them.

3/ It Gives You Perspective. Learning about different issues also gives you some perspective of the world outside your set boundaries. It’s sometimes easy to get lost in our own emotions and troubles. Although these are valid, sometimes looking at other struggles and global issues, helps to ground you and remind you of your blessings.

4/ There’s Extra Motivation To Train. I’m training for a Half Marathon and without a coach to be accountable to, there are days when my effort has been questionable! Running for these causes has made it so much harder for me to get out of running. The commitment to the cause always outweighs the excuses I come up with. It’s that added driving force to get runs done.

A good example of this comes from my husband’s experience in the World Water Run. He was on call that week so his runs didn’t go according to plan, leaving him with 25km to cover in two days. Had this been a normal week, he would have written it off and moved on. Instead, he did an 18km night run – 9km to check his patients at the clinic and 9km back home!

5/ You Keep Fit. With the extra motivation to run, it’s easier to stick to your running plan which helps to keep you fit and active. Doing these challenges has not in any way disrupted or removed the focus from my Half Marathon Training Plan. Instead, the challenges have helped me to stick to the plan in a more dedicated manner.

6/ You Have A Virtual Support Group. Most of my runs are solo, so for both challenges, I’ve loved connecting with other runners, giving and receiving words of encouragement. I’m not sure how Mina managed with thousands of participants from 132 countries, but she commented on most posts, shared our stories and just kept us excited and enthusiastic the whole week. I’d also signed up my dad and it was fun to get his stats every morning. He pledged to walk 42km, but by the end of the week his mileage was closer to 50!

Both these challenges helped give me some perspective, channelled my thoughts in a more positive direction and motivated me to stick to my running plan. That’s not to say every run I do (or you do) should be for a cause, LOL! But it’s a great tool to use when you feel you’re starting to lose some motivation and need some extra help.

Aside from giving you that extra push to run, it gives you the opportunity to learn and spread awareness about a particular cause and to run with a greater sense of purpose.

Do you sometimes run for a cause? What are some of the causes close to your heart?

I’m joining Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By MileCoach Debbie RunsConfessions of a Mother RunnerRuns with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners from around the world.

34 thoughts on “Six Reasons You Should Run For A Cause

  1. This is great! I am participating in a virtual relay next month and our team wanted to run for a cause. We decided to choose food desert awareness. I’m still learning more about it but its nice to run for something meaningful, especially during this time when things are so challenging and we often feel like everything is out of our control.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love this comment Lisa! You’ve summed it up perfectly – so much is out of our control and to run for something meaningful just has such an impact. Also, just learning more about the cause opens your eyes (and others) to issues that you might not have been fully aware of (or in some cases even known about).

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  2. I do believe that running for a cause is a great thing. I’ve done some victuals because of the cause, and I always look at the cause a race supports — and how much actually goes to that cause (sometimes it’s not much).

    Alzheimers, cancer, and anything supporting animals are some of my pet causes. Both my FIL & father suffered from dementia. There’s a LOT of cancer in my family. And of course i love animals. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those are such great causes Judy. And I think when something affects you or your family, you are more drawn to it. My kids each have a charity jar – each week they put some money into it from their allowance and when they are full, I’ve said we will take it to charities of their choice. My son says he will give a little bit to different causes but my daughter is very clear – hers will ALL go to the local animal shelter!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, that is so awesome that you’re teaching your children to be charitable at an early age. My Dad was VERY big on giving back, but never did anything like that. I love ❤️ it!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. All great reasons.

    I love to race. The cause is just gravy.

    During the Pandemic I have done more virtuals and the cause was more important.

    Cancer is an important one. Also if I know the person hosting. There is one coming up in my area.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It sure does feel good to run for a cause. You are running anyway obviously but it can help give your run a purpose bigger than you are and help you feel like you can make a difference. Nice job girl!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes! It makes sense to combine our passion for fitness with a worthy cause!
    I saw some of the runners on Twitter post some of their runs dedicated to the World Water Run. What a great achievement of Mina!
    Opportunities to run for a charitable cause are very rare in Switzerland, although I ran for an MS cause twice.
    I would love to engage more in it. I will need to look out for more opportunities here in SA!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So many opportunities to run virtually for something have surfaced with the pandemic. I guess before most of us were focusing on the actual race and not so much on the charity the race was supporting (that was certainly me!). Keep an eye out on social media and you may stumble upon something you’re particularly interested in. Some are free like the World Water Run focusing more on awareness but others have a fundraising element like the Happy Hearts Home.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You have inspired me Shathiso! I have never raised money for a charity through a race but now I am inspired to! It adds so much more purpose to runs and the fact that your giving back is amazing!! I am going to look into some charity races now. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My first marathon was with Team In Training to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. It was the most rewarding experience ever. So much so , I went on to do it 2 more times as a mentor.
    Your causes are so needed. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is absolutely beautiful, Shathiso! Yet another way that running gives back…to the runners themselves and to worthwhile causes. You probably know one of my big passions is stair-climbing, all inspired by the Fight for Air Climb (for the American Lung Association). I battle allergies for many years, so I’m a huge advocate for clean air and healthy lungs 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never run for a cause (other than the usual race entry fee going towards a specific cause.) But your post is inspiring, and I’ll be more aware of, and open to the possibilities that come up. I like your third point about gaining perspective- it’s so easy to complain and forget that we’re the lucky ones! Thanks for posting this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t be embarrassed Jenny! That was me pre-pandemic. I always knew the race entry fees usually went to some cause but I was more interested in the actual race! But these virtual challenges have opened my eyes to what else is possible. And I’ve really had fun running for something bigger than me and my personal goals.

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  10. Sorry to hear about the ban on running in groups. We can run in sixes again, however that seems too many to me at the moment still so I’m sticking with one other person, maybe three. But I have the privilege of being able to choose.

    I have enjoyed doing a few virtual races – in fact more than I usually do races in a year – and all of them bar one (the medal!!) have been for a good cause (and that one, I donated when I finished it). It’s been a fun way to feel part of a community for sure. I hope races come back soon for you and everyone else who enjoys them. I think I’m going to do one more marathon next year myself …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that I’m happy running solo, but as you say, it’s having that option to choose especially when a group can motivate you on those tough days! I loved hearing about the causes you have run for on my FB link! As you say, it’s such a fun way to feel part of the community – and to do something for a specific cause.

      I don’t see races coming back here any time soon but I’m going to keep my chin up and explore all the virtual opportunities we now have!

      I hope you do that marathon! I’ll be behind you all the way!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I want to do Reykjavik again – it was my first and I loved it but was worrying the whole way round about whether I could do it / in the time. I’d like to do it again knowing I certainly CAN do it, and train for it better, too!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Great post! In the past I’ve run several marathons and raised money for the Y-Me Breast Cancer Organization and The American Cancer Society. I loved it!

    Thank you for linking up with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve run on many charity teams over the years and they are really wonderful. Our baby sitter when the girls were young was a teenaged girl who suffered with Lupus. I ran the Chicago Marathon on the Lupus Charity team in her honor and that alone kept me going when I wanted to stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love that your husband got in a run by running to and from work. Now that takes dedication!

    Running for a cause is great motivation. It has been hard to keep up the enthusiasm over the last year and I know that 2021 has been a disappointment. Everyone around the world was ready to move on and get back to a more normal-feeling life.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I want to run for a cause this year and just need to figure out the best way to do so! I’m really passionate about food insecurity, accessible healthcare, and child welfare.

    Liked by 1 person

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