Weeks 2&3: Snow, decorating… and a charity sponsorship strategy

Running-wise it’s been a mixed sort of spell, disrupted by work, two bursts of snow which left frozen treacherous pavements, and finally a weekend of decorating the bathroom. But I have made progress on one element of (occasional, amateur) marathon running which has always troubled me in the past, and I have got my head around the charity-sponsorship conundrum.

I’m not beating myself up over the lack of runs and miles; I’m ticking over ok and not yet on a programme where I am anxious if I don’t hit targets.


Week 2 was dominated by snow and while a blizzard stopped me going out on Friday night, I got up and out early on Saturday, before the dog-walkers and other runners. It was an epic improvised meander of a run, around 11.5 miles so far as I can tell, and a lot of it on unmarked fresh snow – some of it lung-burstingly deep.

First tracks

First tracks

Fresh first tracks, in some of my favourite places. I went further than I should have done, kept wanting to add on just that one extra loop, but got away with it.

Week 3 was also hampered, mainly by decorating the bathroom. But not having been out, when I did manage to go, one spell turned into a threshold session which felt great. I didn’t manage my traditional pre-Superbowl 12-miles, though, which was frustrating.

I have entered the Leeds Half in May, and am back in the groove this week; so my rehab and pre-Marathon Programme base-building is on track.

No bodge too small

Decorating, shmecorating, that’s what I say. I like to think of myself as a calm, placid sort of character, able to take most of life’s slings and arrows in my stride with a sense of balance and perspective. But put a screwdriver or wallpapering paraphernalia in my hands and it turns me into a cursing, frustrated temper-ridden volcano of tearful rage. I have a friend who actually enjoys that stuff: whereas I, looking on a newly-fitted ceiling light or freshly-covered walls, instead of taking any satisfaction can only think “You stole my bloody weekend you did; stopped me running in the woods…”.  Anyway, its over. Deep breath, calm, that’s better.

So, to more satisfying matters, and my breakthrough.

A charity sponsorship strategy.

This has always bothered me more than it should.

  • My first marathon, London 1994, I raised money for cancer research.
  • London 2001 was cancer again, and Lake District Mountain Rescue: I can claim credit for a small part of the modern Keswick MRT base.
  • Dublin 2007 was Oxfam, prompted by a film that had been played at the Live8 concert in Hyde Park over two years earlier: as I watched it I knew I had my cause, if I were to run another marathon. (Did I mention, it can be a long journey?)

Each of those I raised around £1200 of which I am very proud of. (My two Robin Hoods – 2001 and 2003 – were for myself, just for the run.)

Part of my problem was when to go public about running a marathon, and when to start asking for sponsorship. I was worried in case I got injured in the build-up and couldn’t do it.  I pictured the Spirit who distributes Sod’s Law to be sitting up there watching me do all my letters and notices and putting sponsor forms around neighbours and work and family and friends – eee, kiddies, this were in t’days afore t’internet and mobile donations! – and then, when the inevitable terminal injury struck, snickering and wheezing like Mutley. If people had sponsored me for the 26.2 miles I would feel guilty and embarrassed if I couldn’t do it, I would feel I had let the charity down. So I always waited till I was well into the later stages of the training before I asked.

But this time it is different, and the realisation which gave me the breakthrough on sponsorship was the same that made me go public on my marathon goal so early this time round. I have always said that a marathon is not the 26.2 miles on the day but the entire journey which lasts months or even years: from the first time you hear that small voice in your head, to deciding that yes you are going to do it, through all the training, the highs and lows and injuries and doubts, and finally to the start-line and that exhausting exhilarating final stage. That explosion of tears and joy on crossing the line is the final step in a journey of so much more than that last few hours.

So my Marathon Sponsorship strategy will be to ask people to make a contribution not to my marathon, but to my entire journey: from here to the start-line and through the day. To sponsor my effort, wherever it may end. I am still only 50/50 that I will succeed, but I know I will give it everything I have got, and if I fail it will be a physical breakdown, and that breakdown will be final, so I will have done all I can. If I fail, then this will be my last attempt at a marathon. That seems a fair enough basis on which to ask for money against an uncertain outcome, and for me not to feel guilt if I fail.

There is a further point too. I have two causes in mind, and neither of them are big national names, or front-of-mind causes which people would normally think of. In both cases, I suspect it may well be that I can achieve more by raising awareness (for the organisations themselves, and for the people who don’t know where to turn for help) than by any actual funds I can raise. So again, the opportunity to promote them over a longer period of time, for more people to have more opportunities to see them, can only be a good thing. And in that respect, the marathon becomes almost irrelevant: it is a vehicle for the message rather than an end in itself.

I need to check a few things before I say what the causes are, but for now it feels as though I have made an important step. A step in a long journey.

Random Thought Of The Week

Why is it that, when a driver holds back to wave a pedestrian across a road, even though that means “There you go, take your time, no need to hurry, it’s fine I’ll wait…” the pedestrian nearly always does that little exaggerated trot-hop-skip across?

Week 2 Index

Runs 2; Long 11.5 Speed 0; Other: 2

Week 3 Index

Runs 3; Long 4.5; Speed 1; Other: 1

Body: Ok so far. Unfamiliar soreness back of  L knee, but its fading.

Spirits: Good, positive but realistic. Still 50/50, with care.


About johntleeds

In amongst the perpetual juggling of work, family and things on my mind, this is MY time, MY escape. Any this is what my mind comes up with when it has time to wonder, as I wander on the trails... twitter @johntleeds
This entry was posted in Fundraising, Marathon, Running, Training. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s