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 Team In Training and other charity running groups
Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Team In Training and other charity running groups Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 1:52 pm 

Has anyone here ever done a race with Team in Training, or one of the other similar charity groups that will help train you for a marathon in exchange for fundraising work? If you have, how would you rate the experience? Would you recommend a freind go the same route, or just train without the charity aspect?

I see some good things about the charity groups. They help attract new runners, especially those unsure of their own abailities who probably would never attempt a marathon without some kind of support group like this. They also raise money for worthy charities, which is good.

Overall, though, I'm pretty against the charity running phenomenon. Once again, I guess I'm just a grinch, but here is my reasoning.

1. Charity running groups set unrealistically low expectations for the difficulty of training for a marathon. Although I'm sure this varies, most charity training programs I've seen are very low mileage, and include maybe one 20 mile training run, or perhaps none at all. This may make it seem less daunting, but it's a disservice to the runners, and sets them up for pain on race day.

2. Charity groups sell people short. Related to point 1, most programs I've seen are too easy, and set people's expectations for finishing time too conservatively. I bet a lot of people who would be capable of a sub-4:00 finish if they really worked at it are instead tracked onto a 5:00 or 6:00 hour training plan, and they begin to see themselves in that frame of reference, and don't believe that they are capable of more.

3. Charity groups combine two unrelated fields, charity fundraising and marathoning, in a way that I feel diminishes the sport. If you want to raise money for a charity, solicit direct donations instead of doing a running program. Your charity will get much more of the money you raise that way. If you want to do a marathon, then train for one and do it. You don't need to be simultaneously worried about fundraising targets, and confused as to whether your goal is actually to raise the most money or run the fastest time.

Charity and marathoning have become so closely linked in some people's minds that they don't see any other reason why someone would ever run a marathon. It's almost to the point where if you run a marathon without raising money for a charity, there must be something wrong with you. A while ago I ran into a non-running acquaintance at a sporting goods store, and it turned out we were both training for a marathon. He was doing it as part of a group that raises money for children's charities overseas. When he asked me "what are you running for?", and the only answer I had was nothing, or myself, an awkward silence followed.

I'm curious to hear other people sound off on this topic. What's your opinion?


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