Taking part in a charity event is a great way to motivate yourself to get fit. Christina Neal explains why it could be a great opportunity to get in shape and achieve your goals while doing good.

Do you lack the motivation to exercise? Do you plan to get up and work out, then find yourself too busy or distracted? If that sounds like you, then consider signing up for a charity event such as a 5K run, a sponsored walk, a swimathon or a mini-triathlon. There’s such a variety of charity events to choose from and you don’t have to be fit to take part. All you need to do is show a willingness to turn up on race day – and preferably do some training beforehand!

Having the motivation of a charity event to get fit for is a great way motivator. The knowledge that you need to be fit and prepared to walk, run, cycle or swim a certain distance by a fixed date can really push you.

Fundraising for a cause close to your heart will give you an emotional connection to the event you’re training for and motivate you to get out and train on days when you feel tired.

Many people are under the mistaken impression that you need to be super fit to take part in a charity event. This is not true. Charity events are often called mass participation events’ as there’s such a wide variety of people who take part in them. If you look at the start line of the London Marathon , there’s such a variety of different shapes and sizes taking part. Getting fit and taking part in charity events is all about the right mindset and believing you can do it.

Choosing a charity challenge

So what type of event is right for you? You’ll need to be prepared to train for it regularly, so choose a challenge that motivates you. If you can’t currently run, but you like the idea of being able to do it, then a charity 5K run could be perfect. If you hate running and love the idea of investing in a bike, then a cycling event could be ideal. If walking is your thing, there’s no shortage of sponsored walks. If you prefer the idea of something a bit different, there’s no shortage of unusual and challenging events, like obstacle races or mud runs, which can be strenuous and would involve you working on strength, especially in the upper body.

Get a friend to join you in a fitness challenge

Persuade a friend to join you and you’ll be able to motivate each other. If you like variety, then doing a cycling event or a run may mean you’d find the training too repetitive. An obstacle race may offer the stimulation you need.

Charity events don’t have to be serious or competitive. Unless you’re going for a personal best time, you can have fun. There’s zombie runs, events like the Color Run where you start the race in a white t-shirt and get covered in head to toe in a rainbow of colours (https://thecolorrun.co.uk). There’s also Superhero races where it’s compulsory to dress up in a hero costume (http://www.heroesrun.org.uk) and there’s even naked races (we kid you not!) though we wouldn’t recommend those (too much chafing).

Start exercising gradually

If you like the idea of taking up running, then starting with a 5K event would be perfect for you. It doesn’t take too long to get fit for a 5K – depending on how active you’ve been recently, it should be possible to get fit for a 5K in eight to ten weeks, provided you start slowly. Whether you decide to sign up for a run, a sponsored walk or a swimathon, make your training structured and build up gradually. For instance, it wouldn’t be advisable to go from not doing any running since you were at school 20 years ago to running three times a week and expect not to get injured.

All training plans, whatever event you have in mind, should be gradual and progressive. Never run more than three times a week as you need to give your joints and muscles a break from the impact of running, especially if you’ve not done it before or for some time. Follow the structure below and you should be fine.

Tips for charity fundraising

Here’s how to raise funds for your chosen good cause…

Choose the right charity

Pick a charity close to your heart. It’ll help with motivation levels and you’ll have a vested interest to raise as much money as possible

Start fundraising early

Don’t leave it until the last minute to raise money for your chosen charity. The sooner you begin the less stress you’ll have as race day approaches.

Make it a personal cause

When set up your fundraising page, explain why you are raising funds for that charity. Talk about your personal connection to the cause if you have one and why fundraising for this charity means so much to you. Speak to your chosen charity directly and ask for fundraising ideas. They may be able to suggest ways you can raise more money that you’ve not considered.

Put on a show

If you have friends who are talented musicians or would-be comedians, ask them to put on a free gig in aid of your charity, so that you can sell tickets and donate the money to the charity.

Spread the word about your fundraising event

Blog as much as you can about your training. Talk about the highs and lows, the personal struggles, why you’re doing what you’re doing and what it means to you.

Use social media

Keep your Facebook page and Twitter account up to date on your training and fundraising efforts. Make sure your fundraising page tells your story.

Do your challenge in costume

Dressing up in a costume when doing your charity event may secure extra donations if your sponsors know you are going to the trouble of doing this. That said, avoid uncomfortable costumes like a rhino suit that will just make you hot and sweaty! Choose wisely.