Keep Fit & Do Good: 10 Running Charities to Support

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By Stuart
Goulden

Avid runner. 10x marathons. Daily 10kms. Award-winning journalist when not moving (about me)

Running can transform your life. Even save it.

The health benefits of an active lifestyle are well known, however running also has the potential to dramatically boost mental wellbeing and life chances too.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the UK’s running charities tackling homelessness, loneliness, inequality, littering and more, one step at a time.

With your help, more people will have the opportunity to get into running and receive the support they need.

The Running Charity

Fist bumping during a The Running Charity session and workshop

The profile of The Running Charity has skyrocketed thanks to Russ Cook (aka The Hardest Geezer) for his big to become the first person to run the entire length of Africa, working out at two marathons a day for over 8 months.

The Running Charity unleashes the power of running to help young people experiencing homelessness or managing complex needs.

We all deserve a strong start. However, access to support and a route out of homelessness aren’t universally available. That’s evidenced by the face that there are around 103,000 young people affected by homelessness right now in the UK.

Using sport’s unique ability to engage otherwise disenfranchised young people, The Running Charity lays on free group running sessions with qualified fitness professionals coupled with practical development workshops aimed at supporting participants’ goals for the future.

GoodGym

GoodGym combines DIY SOS with physical activity to lend valuable support to local communities and isolated older people.

Every week, an army of GoodGym volunteers perform heroic feats ranging from running to collect essential supplies for an older person or helping around their home, to local park makeovers and litter pick ups. All that’s needed to take part is a warm heart and a pair of trainers.

To date, 350,000 ‘missions’ have been completed by GoodGymers up and down the UK. Why not join them and make running fun again?

Preloved Sports CIC

Preloved Sports CIC stall at Marathon du Malton

It’s estimated that 300,000 tons of sportswear reaches landfill every year and as the global appear of sport grows, so does the waste.

Preloved Sports CIC is reducing the amount of disposal sportswear heading to landfill by reselling your used-but-otherwise-fine gear to other runners. In the process, they also raise money for Talking About Loss to pay forward the support Preloved Sports’ founder, Michael Hill, received after losing his father.

I first encountered Preloved Sports CIC at last year’s Marathon du Malton event and made a promise to myself to help spread the word of their good work, and here we are.

Since September 2022, their proud efforts include:

  • 6,866 (74.85%) items has been redistributed to charity
  • 1,001 (10.91%) items resold online and via pop-up stalls at running events
  • 846 (9.22%) items have been repurposed

That’s almost 10,000 items, and counting!

261 Fearless

Fearless 261 female running group at night

This network of local women-only running clubs double up as social opportunities to discover your self-worth and potential.

The global community of female runners meet up once a week for female-led running drills, games and strength exercises. In turn, the coaches who lead each session receive the fitness, social and emotional education to support members and maintain a thriving community.

Why 261 Fearless? Since 1976, the number 261 has stood for women’s ability to break barriers in running—it’s the bib number Kathrin Switzer wore when she became the first registered woman to run the Boston Marathon.

Related reading: How Was Running Invented

Trash Free Trails

Volunteers at a Trash Free Trails clean up in a forest

Raw, exhilarating, and often unforgiving, trail running is the ultimate outdoor exercise. Trash Free Trails aims to keep our beloved off-road routes litter free.

Channeling the plogging movement into purposeful adventures, your bite-sized action can inspire countless others to do the same. Ploggers also feel a deeper connection to the world around them.

I love how fun they make the whole process. Download the Clean Trails Purposeful Adventure Bingo Card and complete challenges such as ‘Fill A Bag’ full of rubbish, ‘Take Public Transport’ to a rural route, or bring a friend along.

British Blind Sport

Did you know: Anyone can become a guide runner for blind and partially sighted people?

England Athletics and British Blind Sport (BBS) have teamed up to train you up to provide much needed guidance to blind and partially sighted people wanting to take up running in the UK.

The 2-hour England Athletics Sight Loss Awareness and Guide Running Workshop covers:

  • Different types of visual impairment
  • safety tips for guide running
  • how to lay on fully inclusive sessions and running clubs
  • practical demos and dry runs

Run Talk Run

In terms of the benefits of jogging everyday, it not only works wonders for the body, it’s also kind on your mind.

Run Talk Run meetups are a great way to meet new people and support your peers on a weekly non-competitive 5km jog.

Some people find traditional running clubs a little intimidating. Run Talk Run’s peer support groups try their best to make both movement and mental health support less intimidating, and more accessible. There’s zero pressure to “keep up” on runs. Go at your own pace and the conversations and friendships will flow naturally.

parkrun

Parkrun UK - runners get ready to start in York - rundure.com
Parkrun UK – runners get ready to start in York

A health and wellbeing charity since 2018, parkrun not only transforms lives, it saves them.

In the UK, 4 in 10 adults and more than half of children and young people aren’t physically active enough. 9 in 10 adults in the UK experienced high or extreme stress in the past year. Many people live without company and companionship on a daily basis.

The parkrun concept is simple: meet at one of 2,000 parkrun events in 22 countries across 6 continents, at 9am on Saturday, and walk, jog or run your way to 5km with like-minded souls.

I love parkrun and to say parkrun is inclusive is an understatement.

A weekly show of enormous public altruism the UK over, everyone is welcome and clapped their way round. All ages. All abilities.

&Mother

Running’s beauty is its simplicity.

Runners come in all shapes in sizes, and from all backgrounds and budgets.

This opportunity should equally extend to women in motherhood.

Set up by Olympian Alysia Montaño, &Mother challenges the sports industry to better support female athletes before and after pregnancy.

This ranges from shaping industry advertising and product development, to direct sponsorship of expectant athletes, and greater standardisation of support across the industry.

Alysia brought worldwide attention to the barriers and bias that professional athlete mothers face with her viral New York Times op-ed: Nike Told Me to Dream Crazy, Until I Wanted a Baby. The rest is history.

teroGo

teroGO is an employee engagement and wellbeing platform with physical exercise at its heart. By encouraging your company to sign up, you could be rallying your fellow employees to channel their competitive side into impactful challenges and healthier habits. Miles clocked can be converted to charitable donations, tree planting initiatives and more.

Our climate change actions can be big and small. Everyday and monumental. At work or in your own time.

So, if you need to rediscover your running mojo or want to do your bit to help others to unlock the life-changing benefits of running, there’s lots of running charities and causes on hand to help.

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