I have always been very passionate about all kinds of sports. However, there are only a few sports that I have developed a big passion for over time, one of which is running. So it was about four years ago that I started to run on a more regular basis. I joined the RunKeeper community in 2011 and have been going on a lot of great adventures since then, not only on foot but also by bike.
Biking trip in the Alps in 2011, tracked with RunKeeper
The moment when I started to pick it up a notch was last year. I spent one year in England, a country which back then was completely foreign to me and the freedom I found there put me in a situation where pushing myself suddenly felt a whole lot easier.
I was more than happy with my progress up to a point: eight months ago, when I hit one of these lows in motivation, something that probably every runner has to go through from time to time. Looking for ways to boost my motivation, I was thinking more and more about preparing for a race with an actual goal rather than participating just for fun as I had done a couple of times before.
But as convenient as the situation was at the time, finding a race to take part in turned out to be difficult. Firstly, there wasn’t an upcoming race in Manchester, where I lived, and secondly, I visited England to study a year abroad and my student budget did not include money for race trips.
I went almost as far as to postpone the whole idea by a year when I had the sudden idea to just do my own race…all over Europe.
Spring break had started at university, so I decided to visit my home town of Munich, Germany to see family and friends for a few days before returning to Manchester.
As luck would have it, I had booked flights with layovers on both ways. On the way there via Paris and on the way back via Amsterdam…with Munich and Manchester included, I would visit arguably four of the most beautiful cities in Europe within 11 days.
So three days before flying, I decided to simply have one run in each city.
My Europe Run, 20k runs in Paris, Munich, Amsterdam, and Manchester
As excited as I was when planning the runs, the result was even better than I had ever imagined.
My 80km Run for Cancer Research
The first idea that came to my mind when deciding for the run was that I wanted to share this adventure with family and friends.
My second thought was that I might as well support a good cause while running. The idea to support cancer research wasn’t random—just a couple of months before, I had learned a lot about cancer treatment and research while supporting a close family member in the battle against the illness and I have been fascinated ever since by this technology which helps to save so many lives.
A running shirt that I received from the Institute of Cancer Research.
During the whole event, I used social media to its fullest. The difference from a race that you sign up for was that nobody other than me knew about it, so explaining the whole thing to everyone was the first step.
Without platforms like Facebook and JustGiving, no one except a few friends would have noticed that I was running around in Europe and hardly anyone would have donated.
Running apps like RunKeeper, on the other hand, make it possible to show the exact running route and the actual distance, so everyone could see whether or not I delivered what they had donated for and what I had promised before.
I depended on the technology on every run and what can I say…the entire time it was running like clockwork (or one of the Bekele brothers).
All four runs together.
One lesson that I learnt was that there is possibly no better way to explore a city in a short time other than just running through it. The impressions that I got, being so close to the people and looking at landmarks as they’re right in front of me, were countless and unforgettable—sometimes a 4 hour layover is all you need.
Then there’s the donation part. The amount of support I received made the runs so much more special and pushed me to the limit on each run. I initially started with a donation goal of 50€ (~61$). After all, collecting money wasn’t the main reason to do this run. As I’m writing, the total amount of money collected is 313€ (383.59$) and that is just awesome.
Last but not least, the run helped to set my goal for 2015, the marathon distance. This goal was set before I had to have surgery in October because of a sports injury. Even though I will not be able to run until a couple of months from now, I have no doubt that this goal is still within reach and can become another great running adventure—it’s all about motivation after all.
Thank you to my family, friends and everyone else for their donations and support!
If you want to support a good cause and make a contribution to cancer research, please take a look at the donation page which I created for this run.
JustGiving.com/EuropeRun. I appreciate any support, even the smallest contribution can help this initiative, which is personally very important to me.
What about you? What unconventional techniques have you used to stay motivated?