As someone who has run for charity on a couple of occasions I've found it a very rewarding experience. And I've been fortunate that the fund-raising side of the involvement wasn't too onerous; it's amazing what you can achieve with a just giving page and a few generous friends!
However many runners baulk at the thought of having to raise large sums of money to 'earn' their place at some of the big UK and international events. With some imagination, a little help from your friends and the support of your charity, fund-raising shouldn't be too scary but it will mean a bit of work.
Running for a good cause isn't a one-way street though, there are lots of benefits and runABC talked to some of the leading charities to find out what's on offer to their supporters.
The race place
One big plus of a charity tie-in is securing entry at an event where it can difficult to get a place - London Marathon and the Great North Run are two obvious examples, but charities also have places for Brighton Marathon, Liverpool Half Marathon, Edinburgh Marathon and other big races.
The charity goodies
Most charities will welcome you with a parcel of goodies - expect a good quality charity vest and possibly a water bottle, cap and sweat band.
Getting ready for the big day
Many people sign up for a marathon or tough endurance race and then realise they've bitten off quite a chunk. Charities provide runners with training plans, ongoing advice about race preparation and the opportunity to meet up with other runners getting ready for the same event. Most charities have Facebook and/or Instagram pages where supporters can interact and provide mutual encouragement. And remember when you're facing a fourth or fifth run in a week and it's pouring outside, knowing that you're helping someone worse off than yourself will give you the extra motivation needed.
We liked what one charity was doing to keep their runners on the right track - organising a bootcamp in advance of a big north of England marathon and inviting all of their team to come along for a bespoke 1 hour training session.
Race day hero
Decked in your charity vest expect to get incredible support on the streets of Nottingham, London or Glasgow on race day as well as great feeling of solidarity with your fellow charity runners. When you're running for a good cause, the crowds really get behind you. There always huge turnouts of charity supporters, all of them will give you incredible encouragement, but you'll get the biggest boost as you pass the cheering points of your own team.
After the race
If you're lucky enough to be running on behalf of a charity with a big presence at an event you can expect to get 'star' treatment post-race. Pampering can include photographs, lots of nice food and drinks, sports massage and endless congratulations.
The real benefits
Of course, getting a t-shirt and a glass of Buck's Fizz after the race is great, but the real reward for running for charity is the wonderful glow you'll feel when you cross the finish line and you know all that effort will be helping your local hospice or disabled kids. And if you have been running for a cause that it is close to your heart, we'll make a stab at the value of your post-race emotions - priceless!