Charity Running: Follow The Rule Of Thirds To The Finish Line

Over the past 15 years, charity running has grown into one of the largest platforms for community building, networking and awareness in the U.S. Photo:

Run With Your Head

Charity translation: Remember the training plan.

The first third of any race is about reeling in jitters and trusting your training. For those out there in charity garb, nothing fuels this control better than the 16-week training plan that most have followed religiously since day one. Complete with a written plan, experienced coaches and well-placed “rest days,” the program trumped my naive (and somewhat cocky) formula for training and, instead, worked with me to be a smarter runner. For someone who has led the pack since sixth grade in many competitive arenas, following a plan delivered by a there-is-something-for-everyone program was nearly laughable — at first.

However, as I blasted by the mile 3 marker, I nodded toward Majocha, acknowledging the fact that I would run the race he knew I could run — without an early bonk. I remembered my hesitation to listen and all of those days I forced myself to sit still instead of lacing up, and I realized that each mile I logged and successful run I completed was because of my coach, because of my teammates, because of those strategically placed off days. The coaches who had worked against my competitive spirit and initial unwillingness to follow the rules for 16 long weeks were suddenly front and center — both in my mind and on the sidelines as I cruised by mile 4. “I told you so” dripped from the corners of their grins and screams of encouragement.

RELATED: Bruce Cleland, The First Charity Runner

“Our training programs are designed by our head coach, Dave McGovern, but our local coaches have the ability to customize those programs,” Comins says. “Thirty-four percent of our participants do not consider themselves athletes. They are here because of the cause, and they want to challenge themselves and need the program.”

Designed around the “three weeks of build, one week of recovery” method, the plan speaks to runners of any level. It was the training program that ultimately captured my abilities as a smart racer and squished my thoughts of self-doubt. If you can follow the plan, you can run your race — I guess he was right, because I still follow the same plan.

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