How Runkeeper will keep me on track (and accountable) during my 365 day charity running challenge

At the start of 2010, I set myself a challenge – to run 875 miles or more this year and, in doing so, to raise money for a charity (in my case, the UK charity that cares for children and young people with cancer, CLIC Sargent).

Shortly after making the decision, I told a select number of friends of my challenge who all wished me luck (and muttered that I must be mad!)

Many embark on activities to raise money for charities and often the time and effort required to prepare for this goes unnoticed.

My original intention was to simply raise sponsorship for completing in (and completing) the Great South Run which is a 10 mile road race held in Portsmouth in October. However, by making the challenge as much about the journey and preparation as the event, I could allow friends and family to see the committment involved.

In reality, casually dropping the fact that I was out running alternate days and getting up at 5am for a 6am run on a regular basis into conversation was unlikely to impress them as much as them actually being able to keep track of every run I make during my training and the 200+ hour involvement.

That’s where RunkeeperRunkeeper comes in.

With Runkeeper, I’ve not only got a great iPhone app which acts as a training partner to motivate me during every run, I’ve also got the ability to share the stats from each activity with friends and family. Within seconds of a run, details of my activity are automatically posted to Facebook and Twitter. My loved ones can then go and view my route, see how fast I was running, how far and for how long. They can even see where I ran fastest and slowest.

With Runkeeper FitnessReports, I can see how well I’m progressing over time in terms of distance, average speed/pace, activity duration etc. This information is also readily available to those who are sharing my journey.

Every step of my fundraising activity has become accountable and, with that, comes the personal desire to push myself harder. I’ve got people to impress and hopefully that will mean bigger donations.

As an example, because I know people are watching how I’m progressing, I’ve adapted my training programme to include hills. A couple of good friends upon seeing the elevation charts for these activities commented on my activity stats posts on Facebook that they were impressed that I’d tackled some ‘big’ hills. That simply spurred me on to try bigger hills.

Seeing how well I’ve done post-activity and historically is great but as part of my charity endeavour, I’ve signed up for a number of races. Although I’d love to have lots of friends and family along the route to cheer me on, I’m realistic and know that’s not always possible. With Runkeeper Live, the people who I’d love to be in the crowd can now see how well I’m doing in each and every race live online. In fact, its better than being there I’m sure they’ll be cheering as they see me finish each race even if they can’t be there to do it for real.

Last weekend I ran my first ‘official’ 10K race, the Eastleigh 10K. Unfortunately, my wife was unable to be there in person but was able to be there in spirit thanks to Runkeeper Live. Shortly after completing the race, I got an SMS txt message to congratulate me on getting a PB and to say that I’d really been working hard for the first 1/2 of the race.

As mentioned, with the accountability that Runkeeper provides comes great responsibility. I know that CLIC Sargent are now following my progress and this is pushing me even harder. No longer is the Great South Run my goal. I’ve now signed up for, not one but two, half marathons. It’s highly likely that my goal distance will be nearer 1000 miles too.

To see whether I achieve or exceed my goal(s), all you have to do is check out my Runkeeper profile.

For more information about the charity I’m supporting, visit CLIC Sargent’s website

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