4 Ways Runners Can Give Back

How You Can Pay It Forward

Runners get so much from the sport and it feels good to pay it forward. Here are some ways that runners can give back:


Run for a cause.

Marathon start
Getty Images

Whether you want to help fight diseases, prevent animal cruelty, or support and raise awareness for another cause, there are hundreds of organizations that organize races or offer training to help raise awareness or funds.

Some of the biggest training programs and race series include the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training, and the American Cancer Society's DetermiNation. Check the website of your favorite cause to find out if and when they have upcoming races. If you're interested in a specific race and want to fundraise in exchange for a race entry, look at the charity section on the race website to learn about their designated charities.

Even if your favorite charity doesn't have a training program or designated race, you can still raise money on their behalf using a fundraising website such as Crowdrise.  You can also use the CharityMiles app, which allows runners to earn up to 25¢ per mile, all courtesy of corporate sponsors.

Also see: Charity Running Groups


Volunteer at a race.

Race Volunteer at Water Stop
Race Volunteer at Water Stop. Photo by Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images

Volunteering at a race is a great way to give back to the running community and get inspired and excited about racing. Volunteers typically help with registration, crowd control, passing out water, or the much-coveted job of placing medals around finishers' necks. If you've never run a road race before, volunteering is an excellent way to get your feet wet before you take the plunge and sign up for your first race. And runners can also save money by volunteering at races because many races usually give their volunteers incentives, such as free race registration or running gear. Or, sometimes even more valuable than money, some races with coveted race spots offer guaranteed entry for next year's race.

To volunteer at a race, look for the volunteer opportunities section on the website or contact the race director through the race website. Seeing the smiles of appreciation and gratitude from runners will definitely make it worth your time and get you motivated to train for your next race.

Also see: 5 Great Reasons to Volunteer at a Race


Be a supportive spectator.

Race spectators cheering
Dream Pictures/Ostrow

If you've ever participated in a race, you know how crowd support can immensely help you. To be a supportive spectator, pick encouraging phrases, such as "Stay strong!" or "You can do it!" to say as they pass. Make sure you have a copy of the course map so you can find your way from one point to another on the course. Runners love to see spectators holding inspiring or funny signs. And, whatever you do, make sure you don't get in the way of the race participants or tell them that they're "almost there."

Also see: How to Be a Supportive Spectator
10 Things Marathon Runners Don't Want to Hear


Mentor a new runner.

Group running
Christopher Futcher

Starting a new running habit can be intimidating and a bit overwhelming, so it always helps when a friend or family member is willing to offer guidance, advice, and support. If you have a family member or friend who's expressed an interest in running, ask her if she'd like to join you for a run (at her pace) or if she needs help shopping for running shoes and gear. You might be able to convince him or her to sign up for a 5K if you say you'll run it, too. You may be surprised at how taking a newbie under your wings also improves your own motivation to run.

Also see:

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