Get Active for a Good Cause

Marathons and other races hosted in the community can impact a lot more than just the people that run them. Many put on these races to benefit people in need. Whether it’s raising funds for medical research, helping the less fortunate, or even rescuing stray animals off the street, it is all for a greater purpose. These benefits along with the ones you will receive for staying active and running these marathons can go a long way toward positively impacting your physical and even mental health. However, running in a marathon requires extensive training to maintain a healthy pace during the race.

How to prepare:

Start training early! Building stamina and endurance in the body will help you complete the marathon without straining yourself. Train to your comfort level. There are plenty of people who decide to walk the race early and others who are hard-core marathon runners who want to have the best running time.

Find your pace. Start by performing walk and run days each week. Try this training method for thirty minutes every day, with one or two rest days in between. If you prefer to walk the 5K, then only walk. Runners should run for 15 seconds and walk for 45 seconds to properly warm up.

Either way, preparing your body for something that will physically stress it will be beneficial in the long run. Keep in mind the pace you want to set and train accordingly. The week of the race, keep the running light. This will allow your body to store its energy for the marathon.

Eat right. During training, eat healthy foods and stay hydrated. Proper nutrition is important in order for the body to function adequately during physical activity that can cause stress. Eat breakfast before the marathon, but keep it simple and light. A bowl of oatmeal, a piece of fruit, or a bagel will fill you up without weighing your stomach down.
Get there early. Arriving at the 5K early will give you time to warm up before it begins. Stretching the muscles will prevent any straining or tearing during the marathon.

How it impacts you physical/mental health:

When the chaos of the holidays begins to set in, focusing your mind on training for a marathon can actually relieve some of the stress.
The training alone will result in a positive physical impact for your body. Even if it is just running or walking every other day, the benefits to your health will be noticeable.
Setting your mind on a specific goal can improve mental health. Having something to focus your time and energy on for a positive outcome can leave you feeling satisfied and content.

Encouraging others to run a marathon with you can increase the likelihood of it becoming more fun and self-gratifying, too.
Try to set a time for yourself, a record to accomplish when you complete the race. Challenging yourself can improve brain function and overall mental health when you complete your task. Even if you don’t meet the time you wanted, you will know that you at least tried your hardest.
Running in a marathon that’s primary goal is raising donations for the less fortune makes you feel like you’re offering a helping hand and also benefits those organizations.

Healing Our Heroes is a non-profit organization that raises donations to provide cost-free neurofeedback therapy for veterans diagnosed with PTSD. They are hosting a 5K race called Doughnut Forget Our Veterans on Nov. 11 in Cartersville, Georgia.

The costs for veterans diagnosed with PTSD or other service related issues are high, and most do not have the funds to get help.

“The donations are used to provide free care for the veterans,” Melissa Hergert, cofounder of Healing Our Heroes, said. “The cost to see one veteran for three to six months is about $2,500. That is for one veteran.”

Hergert said that their goal for this race is to have at least 250 runners and 10 vendors attending, they want to raise at least 10k.

So, getting involved with races that are for a better cause can raise many benefits. You get to help the community with the donations that race is raising and you get the added health benefits to staying active and finishing the race.

Just remember that these marathons are meant for people to have fun, to accomplish whatever goals they set for themselves, and to give back to the community.

Races to look forward to in the future:

There are plenty of local races being held in Georgia at the end of this year, with most, if not all, striving to raise money for a good cause. One organization has been putting on races for the last three years for our furry friends.

Atlanta Lab Rescue hosts a 5K every year to put efforts into rescuing dogs of all shapes and sizes. Heather Coyle, the ALR 5K race director, explained what the race was all about and the measures they take to ensure every rescued dog is suitable for adoption.
“Our mission is to identify and rescue Labrador retrievers and large breed mixes from overwhelmed shelters and abusive situations and place them in secure, loving homes,” Coyle said. “Each dog we bring into the program undergoes an extensive examination by our veterinarians, including a comprehensive blood profile, updated on all vaccinations, spayed or neutered, and micro chipped. Health issues that require additional treatment such as heartworms, surgery, etc. … are addressed prior to adoption.”

ALR is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization. In their first 10 years of activity, they have rescued over 3,500 dogs. The ALR 5K is the largest fundraiser they had this year, and all of those donations go to saving more dogs.

Their next 5K will be Nov. 3 at Jim Miller Park in Marietta, Georgia.

Other races that are being hosted this year can adhere to anyone’s interests; all of them exist for a good cause and can inspire you to help while also getting a good workout in the process.

Some races include The Super Run 5k & 10K in Dunwoody, Georgia; the ATL Jungle Bell Job 5K in Atlanta; the Glow the Mall Pink 5K in Macon; and many others.

For more information on races and being hosted in November and December, visit

Written by: Alex Dunn

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