Sporting Ambition for Charity
Raising money for charity gives you extra motivation to achieve your sporting goals. We look at how to support a cause close to your heart, and the fitness challenges you’ll face along the way
Climbing a Mountain
Kilimanjaro is the ultimate summit that sees thousands of hopeful hikers reach the epic 19,000 feet each year, but there are plenty of closer mountains that are perfect for a challenge. Try out the Mournes in Northern Ireland, Snowdonia or the Three Peaks Challenge. Treat yourself to a brand new pair of excellent walking shoes and be sure to break them in with regular walks. Running or walking in sand builds muscles in the places that protects your knees and ankles and don’t skimp on those core strength exercises like crunches and squats. Be sure to get your cardio up and get used to training with a backpack. Charlotte Saunders, fitness expert and club manager at Harbour Club Chelsea, adds that, for any challenge: “Don’t underestimate the power of recovery. Rest is as important as training. Factor in scheduled days off and don’t try to make up missed workouts on this day. Alongside rest comes nutrition. Timing your intake around your sessions is key. Aim to have 20g of protein and 60g carbohydrates after a tough training session to help achieve optimum results. A protein shake with oats would be a great example.”
Pedal to the Medal
Got a passion for pedalling? Change lives by going the distance and completing a journey like London to Brighton or Land’s End to John O’Groats. Doing a ‘Sportive’ is a fantastic way to get sponsorship and start a whole new sporting hobby by challenging yourself with an organised mass-participation event. The events run all over the UK and take to the Continent with routes to Paris and coast to coast in Italy. If time is an obstacle, you could set up an exercise bike and see how far you can go with a tag team. Building up your cycling skill is a matter of practice – upping your mileage on a weekly basis is the way to prepare for a long journey, and make the most of nearby parks to build stamina.
Have fun and tackle a great challenge with a hard-core obstacle course that will see you run through mud, wade through puddles and pound those miles as you earn the sponsorship you deserve. Tough Mudders run all over the country, and span from 5k to 10-mile courses. Its affiliate charity is Help for Heroes, but head to its site for other charity listings and enjoy an array of perks, including a dedicated charity reception point and cheering zones. Training for such an event begins with running across all terrains. Even if your running level is low, you can build this up from couch to 5k within a matter of weeks, and then go on to focus on the strength training that your body will need to complete a Tough Mudder. The likes of push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, lunges and squats on a daily basis will get your body in shape, and weightlifting can help you battle through those obstacles come race day.
Going the Extra Mile
Whether it’s a 10k or a half marathon, picking a distance out of your comfort zone becomes a personal challenge and can involve hours of gruelling training that tests your mental stamina. The British Red Cross is running miles for refugees, encouraging people to put on their trainers, picking a distance to aim for over the course of a month – your distance reflecting part of the journey a refugee might be forced to take to reach safety. Once you’ve signed up to a race of your choice, the organisation will typically have some handy online resources to help you reach your goals. Training plans that divide up your time according to your level can be handy for runners who have no basis of comparison, and there are an abundance of running apps out there, from Strava to the Nike Running App, that will keep you inspired, and suggest training programmes while comparing your times with your peers to give you an extra dose of motivation. If you’re a beginner, start with one short run a week, slowly increasing and lengthening your distances. Charlotte advocates working backwards: “You have the date and you know what you will need to do. Grab a piece of paper and work back from the date of the event, scheduling your training sessions to ensure you are able to complete the distance. To help avoid injury, weekly increases in training should be no more than 10% each week.”
Make a Splash
If you love nothing more than plunging into the pool for a few lengths, use this passion to raise money for a charity of your choice. Look at wild swimming if you’re made of stern stuff and get sponsored to swim a distance in an outdoor lake. If you’re an avid swimmer, consider a cross-channel swim and make the journey from Dover to Calais – or if you’re put off by the open water, try out the equivalent in your local pool. Not a fan of a solo swim? A relay is another fun and competitive idea, where you can get your friends together and see how many lengths you can complete. Swimming involves tailoring your style, so remember to keep streamlined in practice sessions, explode out of your breakouts so you get the most momentum in the first few strokes, and swim with the technique you want to race with, honing your breathing