How not to raise money for charity – my London Marathon experiences

As the date of the London Marathon approaches, there has been an increase in the number of articles providing runners with fundraising hints and tips. For the vast majority of runners, raising money for charity requires just as much time and effort as training for the London Marathon itself.

My marathon fundraising attempts haven’t generally been very successful. As I wouldn’t want other runners to make the same mistakes, I decided to write my own guide on how not to raise money for charity.

1. Overshare your fundraising page on social media. As soon as I confirmed my place in the London Marathon, I created a personalised fundraising page. I eventually shared the link to my fundraising page on Facebook. Within 24 hours my fundraising total stood at £10 and I’d lost 5 friends. Following advice from the charity I’m fundraising for, I shared the link a second time to correspond with the final Pay Day before the marathon. Several more friends unfollowed me. Another friend asked me stop oversharing the link to my fundraising page. Sorry!

SamaritansMy fundraising page has offended a few people!

2. Email everyone you have ever met. As article recently published in the Guardian suggested sending an email to everyone in your address book. This is potentially a really effective way of finding out who has changed jobs, got married, left the country and changed their email address. It’s not such an effective way of fundraising. Seriously, would you donate money to someone who hasn’t been in contact with you for several years? I’m not so sure that I would.

3. Leave it to the last minute to start fundraising. I didn’t start sharing the link to my fundraising page until February. The London Marathon takes place on April 24th. I have set myself a fundraising target of £500 and I’m struggling. If you accept a guaranteed charity place in the London Marathon expect that target to be substantially higher. If I had to raise in the region of £2000 I would allocate a minimum of six months to my fundraising.

4. Make assumptions. When I started fundraising I assumed that people I had previously sponsored would sponsor me. This hasn’t generally happened and has taught me not to make assumptions about people. I’d also assumed that the family member who sponsored someone £50 to complete a Race for Life would sponsor me a similar amount. My reasoning was that completing the London Marathon is far more challenging than completing a Race for Life event. I was wrong again.

5. Be unemployed. I’m currently spending most of my time searching for and applying for jobs. Being unemployed means that I’ve lost a large source of potential sponsors and supporters. When I worked at the Environment Agency the generosity and support of my work colleagues was incredible. I’ve really missed this support. In addition, many employers have fundraising policies and will match for fundraising up to a certain amount.

6. Have a history of getting injured and not making it to the start line. I have a history of getting a place in the London Marathon, starting my training, setting up and sharing a fundraising page, getting injured and then not making it to the start line. I can understand why people are quite reluctant to sponsor me. I’d be reluctant to sponsor me! Hopefully a few more people will sponsor me when I’ve successfully completed the marathon on April 24th.

Ill injuredI didn’t make it to the start line of the 2012 London Marathon.

7. Raise money for Samaritans. Like many other runners, I had a personal reason for fundraising for a specific charity. When I personalised my fundraising page I shared some of my reasons wanting to raise money for Samaritans. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that some of my friends and family don’t feel very comfortable discussing mental health related issues.

Luckily not all of my London Marathon fundraising experiences have been negative.

8. The kindness of the online running community. The majority of the money that I’ve raised has come from members of the online running community. I’ve never actually met most of these people. These people seem to understand why I’m running with an injury and why I’m raising money for Samaritans. Thank-you!

Have you ever made any fundraising blunders?

 Do you have any tips for successful fundraising?


March review

This year I’ve decided to produce a short summary of my training at the end of each month. I want to look at the positives and negatives of my training. I’ve also decided to share some of my experiences as a small (in terms of readership) fitness running blogger.

What worked well? What were my running related achievements? What would I do differently given the opportunity? I’ll then draw a line under each month and look ahead to the next month.

Double injury…

March started really positively. I completed 10 and 11 mile run for four minutes and walk for a minute and repeat training sessions, my right knee felt great afterwards.  Happy days! Although due to a lack of transport I missed the Mash March Madness in Cannock Chase, I completed my first official race of 2016, the 7 Pools Run, on March 20th. Unfortunately, due to a knee injury I haven’t been able to run since. Running a 10k cross country run clearly wasn’t a very smart move. I also had to postpone my 1,500m swim for Swimathon due to an elbow injury. At the age of 36 I’m falling apart.


According to my Strava stats I managed to complete seven runs covering an approximate distance of 68 km during March. With less than a month to go until the London Marathon this lack of mileage is not ideal. Luckily my knee is now feeling 99.9 per cent fixed and *fingers crossed* I’ll be heading out for a short run tomorrow.

Although March wasn’t a great month from a running perspective, the highlight was completing the challenging 7 Pools Run without having to walk.

Running costs

March was a relatively expensive month. I purchased a secondhand Garmin 220 for £70. Due to my knee injury I’m yet to test out my new toy. Typical! I also entered the Hill West 10k (£10) and bought some Ibuprofen capsules (£0.99) in an attempt to fix my right knee.I was about to purchase a hydration pack for my longer runs when I received an email informing me I’d won an Ultimate Direction Wink Hydration Pack. That’s one way of saving money!

Blogging experiences

Recent experiences with a family member have made me consider giving up blogging.  I’ve reached the conclusion that my life is pretty dull at the moment. Without running in my life I have very little to say. Who really wants to read about the trials and tribulations of a 36 year old Brummie?

Looking forward to April

The first week of April will *fingers crossed again* see me return to running.  The focus for the rest of April will be getting to the start line of the London Marathon. I’ve got my train tickets for the expo and for the marathon booked. I’ve arranged my accommodation. My Samaritans* charity vest has arrived and doesn’t cause any chafing. The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers Brooks kindly sent me fit perfectly. Although my training has been far from conventional, I know that I can complete the marathon distance. It won’t be fast and it won’t be pretty. I just need my right knee to settle down.

Here’s to everyone remaining injury free, completing the London Marathon and a successful April!

So that was Easter

My Easter weekend was more or less perfect.

I drank lots of wine and ate far too much unhealthy food. I refused to let certain individuals on social media make me feel guilty for eating a Creme Egg. Everything in moderation! I spent time with my family, went on a couple of long walks, tackled the housework and gardening and for once chilled out.

Sutton Park 2Another Easter walk in Sutton Park.

Although the weather was perfect during most of the long weekend, I didn’t complete the 20-mile run that was scheduled for the weekend. I have a confession. I haven’t been for a run since I completed the 7 Pools Run last Sunday. The run on the trails of Sutton Park appears to have injured my fragile right knee. I have no idea what I’ve done but my knee is painful.

Since Tuesday (I waited to see if I had a minor niggle or an actual  injury) I’ve been icing my knee twice a day, taking anti-inflammatory tablets and applying anti-inflammatory gel at night. I’ve been taking a turmeric supplement (yes I am getting that desperate) and have taped up my knee using kinesiology tape.

new-york-city-marathon-running-sports-ecards-someecardsUnfortunately, this accurately describes some of my family and friends! Source

On Saturday morning my Marathon News magazine and registration form for the London Marathon arrived. Typical! My running number is 56459. I’ve never started from the red start before. On Saturday afternoon I wrote a feature on my marathon fundraising for the local newspaper. On Sunday evening I charged my Garmin 220. I’m clearly in denial about my knee injury at the moment. I keep thinking that I’ll get out of bed one morning and my knee injury will have disappeared.

Unfortunately, most of my family and friends are also in denial. Training for a marathon and dealing with an injury is turning out to be difficult without a support network.

Whatever happens I will make it to the start of the marathon on April 24th.

Did you have a good Easter weekend?

Are your family and friends supportive of your running?

February review

This year I’ve decided to produce a short summary of my training at the end of each month. I want to look at the positives and negatives of my training. My review of January is available here.

What worked well? What were my running related achievements? What would I do differently given the opportunity? I’ll then draw a line under each month and look ahead to the next month.

Winter miles, summer smiles

In February a combination of the lurgy and a random foot niggle meant that I managed to run the not very impressive total of 20 miles. I completed six runs and spent just over three hours running around the streets of Four Oaks, the local athletics track, and Walsall Arboretum. Once again I’ve created a summary of my training runs using the Sisu website.

February 2016

The highlight of February was finally achieving a parkrun personal best time of 27:49 at Walsall Arboretum. Consistent and structured training really does work!

Another highlight was raising 25 per cent of my £500 London Marathon fundraising target for Samaritans. Only another £375 to go. A huge thanks to everyone who has sponsored me. You know who you are!

Although there weren’t any real low points, not attending the Leadership in Running Fitness course was disappointing.

Running costs

February was a relatively cheap month. I bought some Boots ibuprofen gel (£5.99) for my foot. The gel made no difference. I won’t waste my money again. I also purchased a personalised Walsall Arboretum parkrun t-shirt (£27.50) and some Bridgedale running socks (£18.97).

So much for not buying any more running gear!

Looking forward to March

The first week of March will see me complete my first official race of 2016. I’m really looking forward to pulling on my Club vest and to running around the Cannock Chase trails on Saturday morning.

I’m also looking forward to finally making the transition from running in Brooks Transcends to Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers. March will see me complete two contrasting 10K races; the Mash March Madness in Cannock Chase and the 7 Pools Run in Sutton Park. I can’t wait to test out my trail shoes in the Sutton Park mud!

Finally, there is also the small challenge of me swimming 1.5K for Swimathon.

Here’s to a successful (and hopefully injury free) March!


From couch to marathon

I wasn’t sure what to call this post. Ideas included ‘Emma completely loses the plot’, ‘I’ve got a confession to make’, ‘Please don’t try this at home’, ‘From zero to hero’ and ‘How not to prepare for a marathon’.  Although I’ve only been running consistently since December, I’m going to attempt to make it around this year’s London Marathon. Yes I am *really* daft!

Towards the end of last year I noticed that the London Marathon was holding a competition on twitter to win places in the 2016 event.

I retweeted the relevant tweet, went to work, and completely forgot that I had entered the competition.

A couple of weeks later I received a message from the London Marathon social media team. I had been chosen at random as one of the lucky winners of the retweet competition to win a place in the 2016 London Marathon.

Wow! What had I done?

After managing to contain some of my initial excitement at work (non-runners just don’t understand), I sat down and made a list of the positives and negatives of attempting to complete the marathon distance. The positives far outweighed the negatives. I emailed the London Marathon social media team to confirm my acceptance.

I had a place in the 2016 London Marathon!

I’m being realistic about my fitness levels and what I want to achieve on the day of the race. I want to finish the marathon in one piece. I want to be smiling rather than crying at the finish. I want more of this.


I’ve decided to adopt a run-walk-run strategy from the start of the race; I don’t think that there is any chance of me running the entire marathon distance.

Perhaps I was selfish accepting a place in such a heavily over-subscribed race?

I reasoned that I might never get another chance to complete the London Marathon. I’m pretty certain that most other runners in my position would have done the same.

I have another reason for wanting to complete the London Marathon. I want to raise money for the Samaritans. The Samaritans really helped me a few years ago when I felt that I had no one to talk to. Without the help of the Samaritans I’m not sure that I would still be here.