Did you know that there are many ways to use your love of training and racing as a means to raise funds and volunteer for some great organizations? I’m sure that you’ve seen many big races with charity partners such as the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure, St. Jude’s Marathon, BP MS150 just to name a few. Many of the big races also have special entries reserved for charity donations as a means to encourage those who are capable of raising the required funds a coveted VIP charity entry. Don’t forget about that smaller races either. Around where I live you have the Run Houston series events, Bayou City Race Series and iTri Events just to name a few that have programs such as a matching opportunity. You can do this by declaring your racing to raise funds for a charity and follow the fund raising guidelines. If you run a nonprofit organization and would like to hold an event to raise funds there are also options such as Eventbrite’s Non-Profit Event Planning service as one option.

The ability to support charities can be a great reason to lace up your shoes and hit the road on race day. This brings awareness to these causes and the people they help to the public while simultaneously providing an event that is enjoyable for you as a participant. Many people also pick specific event because of who it supports. I have many friends who race with specific events because the charities touch them personally. It’s a great way to help raise awareness and give back to the community. Sometimes you even have the opportunity to participate with the people you are are supporting.

To find events near you there are a few options. The first is to google races in your area or use services such as Eventbrite, Active.com, and others.

A second option to support many charities on a regular basis each and every time you get up for an early morning training session. For the last few years, I’ve been using an app called Charity Miles to donate my workout on a regular basis with my morning runs and bike rides. I get to pick the charity I support or I have the option of just picking one at random. This is a little less traditional than paying for a race entry or a direct donation. This is because you’re not donating your own money but you are working with a sponsor to donate your time while doing something that is good for your health.

This whole process is very simple to do. All you need is the smart phone that you most likely already run with. I log my running and bike training and sometimes races. You can see my activities often posted to Twitter @mytriaddiction.

Here’s how it works. I wake up crazy early in the morning. (not a requirement, you can log distance whenever it fits your schedule even while walking the dog or getting the mail) When I start my workout I open the app which already had my current charity selected. I select whether I’m Running/Walking Outdoors, Biking Outdoors, or Running Indoors. That’s it. When I’m finished with my workout I hit end in the app and the distance publishes to Charity miles. You can also share to Twitter or Facebook to help raise awareness for the charity, sponsor and encourage others to do the same.

There are options to join teams and have a friendly challenge to see who can log the most miles.

Charity Miles takes my distance and activity type and assigned a value to it. $0.25/ mile for running and $0.10 /mile for biking. What that means is #Everymilematters. In 2016 I logged 2,168 miles between running and biking.

A third option and one I like to do when I can is to give time. This is time doing what you love with the people being supported. One of these that touches my heart is Team Red, White, and Blue (Team RWB). However, there are many of these groups out there such as The Wounded Warrior Project and Honor Ride to name a few. I like to support Team RWB because of what they stand for and the personal connection I have to veterans everywhere having attended a service academy and spent several years in the Navy Reserve with many friends still in the reserves or on active duty. With Team RWB you can support in many different ways. You can donate money, purchase RWB gear and give time and awareness. I’ve raced several races as Team RWB, I’ve run sweeper at the Katy Triathlon for a group finish carrying all the service flags across the finish line. My kids and I also cheer them on whenever we see them at races. I’ve met some great people with the group and have witnessed some of them doing some amazing things.

I’ll be wearing the Team RWB shirt for my Memorial Day workout again this year and I encourage everyone to get out there and do what you love and give back however you can. What I’ve mentioned in this blog post is only a few of the many options that are out there.