We asked Manuela, our Head of Supporter Services, a few questions about participating in charity races, from how she prepares for a run to how she manages to reach her fundraising target every single time.
Why do you run for charity?
I love my job because I get a front row view of all of the amazing people who decide to climb mountains, cycle from one end of the country to the other, and run miles upon miles – all to raise money for our cause.
This is incredibly inspiring, so I recently ran the Hackney Half Marathon to show the world (or at least those lined up along the race route) that I believe in our cause and I am willing to embrace the blood, sweat, and tears that come with pushing yourself to new physical and mental limits.
What is your favourite race memory?
My Half Marathon was tough and around mile eleven I was feeling really tired. But just as I was pondering taking another walking break a woman tapped me on the shoulder and said “Well done you! I built a house in Zambia with Habitat for Humanity.” This carried me through those last two miles. And then my husband was waiting for me at the finish line with chocolate.
How do you fundraise?
I use the Everyday Hero campaign that Habitat for Humanity GB set up. It is really easy to share on social media and via email. I post the link frequently on my facebook page and share photos and funny insights from my training. When it’s all over I share photos of my race day and I thank all of my supporters.
How do you train?
Our partner, Run for Charity, has several helpful training plans on their website. I integrate this into my regular routine and hold myself accountable by keeping a training journal.
Is that enough?
I get my husband involved too. He is naturally much faster than me, so running with him helps me work on my speed and together we work on building up distance.
What gets you through a long run?
When I am running alone I need a good playlist, I find that this helps with me speed as well if it’s a really good song. Lately I’ve been running to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs a lot. The Talking Heads and Bruce Springsteen are always appreciated when they come up on the playlist.
Other times I will run with no music to clear my head and de-stress. After a good run, I tend to come back to the office with lots of new ideas and plans.
What gets in the way of your training?
I always want to stop and play with the dogs I see along my running route. Other than that unavoidable hazard, I find it is really easy to talk yourself out of a run. I’m too tired or too busy or it’s too cold or too sunny.
The hardest part is always getting my shoes on and getting out the door and then the first mile. Once I get through that I am golden. But even on the difficult days, I am never unhappy that I ran, I always feel better afterwards.
What do you one week before the race?
I give up my beloved beer.
How do you prepare the night before the race?
I will eat a good meal with plenty of carbs and go to bed early.
The morning of?
I wake up with plenty of time to drink water and eat a good breakfast. I like a bowl of oatmeal with a blob of peanut butter plus a banana.
I head out early so that I can cope with unexpected delays on public transport. And after checking in my bag I head to the portaloos for one last stop.
What bits wisdom, tips, & techniques can you share to help prepare for your run?
- Have fun.
- Everyone is always chasing their personal best, but it is just that: personal. I will never be a top finisher nor will I have the most creative fancy dress. Some days I am really fast and other days I have aches and pains. Regardless, showing up at the start line is what matters most because you’ve shown up for families around the world living in deplorable conditions.
- Stick to what you know. Don’t try out new shoes or gear, you’ll risk blisters and chafing. If you don’t normally use energy drinks or gels, race day is not the day to start.
- This one is for your cheer squad: Give a shout out to the other runners too. It may literally be miles before they see their own supporters. I was so touched by the kind souls at a cheer point who shouted out my name that I went home and donated to their charity.
- Finally spotted your cheer squad and want to strike a pose for that all important photo? Watch where you’re flinging your hands – you might knock out a fellow racer!
- After the race you will be in a bit of a daze and the chaos of the finish line adds to the confusion, so identify a place to reunite with friends and family in advance.
Whether it’s a marathon or a 5k fun run, all of the hard work you have put into training and fundraising to support our cause is absolutely incredible and we could not be more grateful.
Thank you for showing the world that you are helping us fight the global housing crisis.