Signing Up To A Charity Challenge and What I Learnt About Committing To A Goal

In July I completed a charity challenge to run everyday. Reading that you might have one of a few responses. You might be impressed thinking you could never do that. You might think "I can do that" but recognise it takes a lot of hard work and commitment. You might also be thinking “so? or “why?” and that’s fair enough. What is a challenge for some of us can be easy for others. The goals some of us set can be of no interest to others.  I'm proud of myself for completing the challenge and it taught me a lot about how to set goals and stick to them. Whatever you think of my challenge find out how you can hit your goals.

Me looking red faced and exhausted after running my first park run at the end of my charity challenge
After committing to the charity challenge I smashed my goal and completed my first Parkrun

How I Ended Up Doing A Charity Challenge

I like running, but I don't run as much as I would like. There are periods in my life where I have run regularly although my maximum distance has usually been 5k and those running periods are punctuated by long intervals of not running. My fitness declines and I find a lot of excuses to not put my running shoes and sports bra on. The last time I ran before this July was the year before and I only managed a handful of runs then.

In January this year I was knocked off my feet with Covid, by the time I was well enough to get out of bed my fitness was rock bottom. The first time I attempted the school run (which involved a massive 5 minutes walk to get from the car to school and back again) my knees and ankles ached. Over the next few months I slowly increased my fitness, but I was scared to push myself too hard incase I was then too tired to look after my children.

By June I was feeling pretty normal again, I could maintain a reasonable walking speed for a good amount of time, but I hadn’t tried to run or do any other exercise. One day a Facebook advert popped into my feed which asked if I could run 1km every day in July. Just 1km, but every day. It was a campaign to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital and I liked the idea of it because it sounded achievable. Even if I couldn’t run the whole 1km each day I could do walk and run intervals, the real challenge would be to motivate myself to go out every day.

Committing To My Goal

Going out every day turned out to be both easier and harder than I realised. It was easier because I had made the commitment, I am very stubborn and I had sponsorship money coming in. I was posting daily selfies after my run to keep myself accountable and there could be no excuses. If you plan to run 3 days a week it’s easy to wake up and think “not today, I’ll go tomorrow”, you can decide you are too tired, it’s too hot or wet or you don’t have time. When you commit to doing something every day there are no excuses, you just have to work out how you are going to fit it in to your day.

This charity challenge taught me a lot about the barriers I put up and how I can achieve my goals when they are at the right level and I really want to. From the outset I knew I could complete it so my goal was achievable, the only question was: would I sabotage myself?

In July we had a heatwave, the hottest day ever (to date) peaking at 38 degrees. I knew I couldn’t run in that heat. I don’t even like running in 24 degrees which was the lowest the temperature was due to reach overnight. But I was determined so I set my alarm for 5am and went out at did my 1km. I'm not about to get up at 5am every day, but it was important to me to complete the challenge so I made a plan. 

We went camping for the weekend. I was up late, didn’t get nearly enough sleep and had a few beers the night before. But I packed my running gear, got up in the morning and ran. Well I tried to run. The first morning I was feeling rough and I forgot how hilly it was in the forest. That days 1 km was one of the few where I had to have walking intervals mixed in and it was the hardest 1km to complete.  But I put my trainers on, I travelled the distance and I pushed myself.

Some days I just managed the 1000 metres. It was my minimum commitment and no matter how busy I was I made myself find the 10 minutes I needed to get dressed, go out and run. Some days I ran further and I even managed to cover 5km twice (including my first ever Parkrun on my penultimate day), but every day I managed that 1km. I went from no running for months to running every day. I felt myself getting stronger, faster and happier. 

After completing the challenge:

  • I know I am fit enough to run 1km.  I can run after my children for short bursts and still have the energy to keep going.
  • I know now that 1km doesn’t take long and I can find a way to fit that burst of exercise into my day if I want to.  And running 1km is better than not running at all. Even on a day when I had no childcare and I had to run 100s of dizzying circles around my garden I did it.
  • I know that if I have a headache I can take painkillers and run (although I luckily didn’t have a full blown migraine in July because I don’t think I could have run with one of those).
  • I remembered that I love to run and how good it can make me feel when I get past an initial fitness barrier.
  • I felt proud of myself for setting a goal and completing it.
  • I gained confidence in myself which gave me the motivation to try more new things.

How To Make Sure You Stick To And Complete Your Goals

If you want to show yourself just what you can achieve then I recommend setting yourself a challenge and committing to meeting that goal. It doesn't have to be a charity challenge, although that £285 I raised for charity was a definite bonus. 

Tips to help you achieve your goal

  • When you set yourself a goal, make it a bit of a challenge, but achievable for you.
  • Commit to when exactly you are going to work towards it. I couldn’t make any excuses when I had to take action every day. If it is something you want to do once a week then set the day and the time you will do it and commit to that. Just saying once a week isn’t enough as you will make excuses.
  • Make yourself accountable. I shared my journey online both to raise money and to ensure I couldn’t get out of it. I was amazed by the positive support I received.
  • Work through your excuses in advance. I told myself that if I was ill I would still go out and walk that 1 km, no matter how long it took me I would get out there. The weather? I looked at the forecast and planned ahead. Childcare issues? I found ways around it. 

Ultimately completing the charity challenge showed me that when I really want to do something I will find a way to do it. If you are setting goals and not committing to them ask yourself "how important is this to me?" and if the answer is some version of "very" find a way to motivate yourself and commit. 

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