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HealthStart is proud to announce its recent designation as a charity recipient of the 2016 Austin Gives Miles fundraiser!

Running is such an amazing opportunity to represent and dedicate to yourself and your community. Everyone can walk or run to benefit themselves and their favorite nonprofit or charity. Here’s a beginner’s guide to training for your first nonprofit fundraising 5K in less than two months. (After that you can shoot for the half marathon! I’m thinking about it, anyway….)

First, find yourself some motivation. Mine came in the awful form of a divorce, to be honest. I had gotten myself a dog, because I knew I would be lonesome, and I also needed to get out of my routine a little bit. Turns out that running with my dog kept me feeling great in spite of everything, looking better than ever (if friends and family are to be believed,) and a walk/run regimen could absolutely do the same for you. The boost in feel-good brain chemicals go a long way, and it’s actually addicting (in a good sense!). You’ll find yourself wanting to get out the door. It helps to have a worthy cause as added motivation in training for a 5K: a direct connection to a fundraising cause is the primary motivator in first-time 5K runners. Three of my grandparents had diabetes, and my first 5K was in recognition of that fact. You know, HealthStart’s involvement with the Austin Gives Miles charity this year might be your reason to run…

I want to add something here: There are a thousand ways to spend money or look fashionable. When I started running, I was way too caught up in whether I had the right shoes or shorts or anything of the sort. (I still don’t.) I recommend that you start with what you have, and see if this running thing suits you. If you want to splurge, maybe consider giving to your favorite charity instead of the snazziest sneakers. My only other very serious recommendation is that you ask a doctor whether it’s A-OK for you to start a new exercise, particularly if you’ve had heart, knee, or any issues in the past that might relate to running.

So, you want to run your first 5K and get all of the added benefits while benefiting a nonprofit, too? You can really train for a 5K in less than two months. I did, using this guide, adapted from the Mayo Clinic 7-week training schedule for beginners.

Here’s how:

Start slowly. During the first week, you’ll walk or run/walk on five days, and rest on two days.

  • Day One (Let’s call it Monday): Start with a good, long walk. Warm up for five or ten minutes. Maybe just walk for thirty minutes on the first day. If you’re antsy, you can run for fifteen seconds, and walk for forty five seconds, for thirty minutes. See how you feel. Listen to your body, and stop if you want. There’s no pressure, and remember to be kind to yourself.
  • Tuesday: If Monday went well, then warm up for five or ten minutes, and do another 30 minutes of 15/45 run/walk intervals.
  • Wednesday: Walk 30 minutes.
  • Thursday: Run/walk your 15/45 interval for 30 minutes.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: Run/Walk for 3 miles. Use an app, like MapMyRun, to measure the distance. Using an app like this lets you post your progress to social media, or a running mentor, or a 5K buddy. You’re more likely to stick to your plan and see better results with social support!
  • Sunday: Rest! You’ve earned it.

I’m going to cut this article short and let you get on it! The rest, run, and distance are the same for the next six weeks except for the time intervals:

  • Week 2: Run 15 seconds, Walk 45 seconds for 30 minutes.
  • Week 3: Run 20 seconds, Walk 40 seconds for 30 minutes
  • Week 4: Run 20 seconds, Walk 40 seconds for 30 minutes
  • Week 5: Run 30 seconds, Walk 30 seconds for 30 minutes
  • Week 6: Run 30 seconds, Walk 30 seconds for 30 minutes
  • Week 7: Race week! Run the 30/30 on Monday, and Wednesday. Rest Friday. On Saturday, run your 5K!

A couple of notes:

  • Always, always, always warm up and cool down. Do some stretches, get your blood pumping before you start any serious exercise by walking at a good clip for at least 5 minutes.
  • If you’ve got a canine companion along for the trek, then it’s best to walk/run with your dog early in the morning during the heat of summer. The scorching hot asphalt and pavement are extremely hard on dog paws!
  • If you plan to run the half or full marathon contact HealthStart’s Outreach Coordinator Erin at erin.damm@healthstartfoundation.org for further resources and maybe even a personal training plan
  • Running is not necessarily a reason to increase your caloric intake. Check with your doctor or a dietician to make sure your nutritional needs are met but not exceeded.
  • Also, remember to hydrate, get enough electrolytes, and have fun!

 

About the HealthStart Foundation & Austin Gives Miles (AGM) Connection

HealthStart is looking for runner-advocates for the Austin Marathon on February 19, 2017 who will run on our behalf. As one of the 26 central Texas non-profits selected by the Austin Marathon for every $1 we raise Austin Gives Miles (the Austin Marathon’s nonprofit arm) matches what we raise dollar-for-dollar. Runners can run 3 distances: Full Marathon, Half-Marathon, or a 5K (max 2000 runners).  We ask that our advocate/runners raise $300-$500, that’s about 30 friends willing to donate $10 or more to support their run.

About the Author

Sarah Nielsen is the mother of a three year old. She’s an English teacher, who loves writing about family friendly health, nutrition, physical activity, and community activities.

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