Running to help good causes

Most people run to keep up with their own fitness, and be physically and mentally engaged.

It is probably the most effective way to live a healthier life, as my fellow columnists - reputable athletes and medical professionals - have pointed out over the past weeks.

Beyond personal good, what if I told you that you can run for other benefits too?


In a previous article, national marathoner Mok Ying Ren shared that one should run at a comfortable conversational pace.

This is a good case in point -exercising with your running "kaki" at a comfortable pace allows you to catch up and spend the time meaningfully. Being part of a running community gives strength in numbers to a sport which can feel "lonesome" at times.

It allows you to share running tips, join a network of like-minded individuals, inspire or be inspired, strengthen basic disciplines and habits, reach out to resources that you might not have, create self-development opportunities for others, and support both individual and collective endeavours.

Most importantly, peer influence becomes a powerful tool to spur each other on to persevere.

That is why several running groups have sprung up in recent years, each with a unique value proposition that appeals to their followers.

They include:

• #RunONE, the training partner for the recent Straits Times Run in the City 2017 (ST Run). It aims to reframe running as one with personal, social and altruistic benefits.

• Running Department, the official pacers for ST Run, organise weekly group runs regularly, rain or shine.

As iron sharpens iron, today, these running groups form the core of an increasingly active collective of passionate runners.


Other than running with others, you can also run for others.

Some run for advocacy causes, others for charitable causes. In both cases, you can be part of a bigger vision and make a difference to the lives of those around us.

Sometimes the output comes in the form of increased donations and, other times, an additional convert to the cause. In either case, it reminds us to remember the poor and marginalised, and uphold benevolence.

Essentially, these runs represent, on a broader level, the challenges these groups face and are working to overcome i.e. their own "marathon" in life. Some of these runs include:

• The ST Run supports The Straits Times Pocket Money Fund (SPMF), which was started in 2000 and has helped 150,000 students and youths with collections amounting up to $55 million. To all the 13,000 runners on July 16: You have contributed to making their lives better.

• Yellow Ribbon Prison Run & Unlabelled Run, both combat the stigma against and the challenges of former offenders.

• Run & Raisin Charity Run, organised by Touch Community Services, aims to raise about $250,000 for their Touch Young Arrows (TYA) activities and programmes.

In more ways than one, our seemingly minute efforts can go the extra mile in improving the lives of others.

The next time you sign up for a run, do also consider the social and altruistic impacts that you bring to yourself and those around you.

Make a difference, one step at a time.

• Jed Senthil is a former civil servant who served professionally in the social and social enterprise sectors. The avid runner and youth advocate is also the co-founder of the RunONE running community.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2017, with the headline 'Running to help good causes'. Print Edition | Subscribe