Have you started running more during the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps in order to escape the house you were largely confined to during the lockdown? You’re not alone – and many have found that they’ve got so into the sport that they’re doing it several times a week. Now they’re looking for ways to mix up their running routine.
If that’s you, you could start training for an event, virtual or real, depending on how optimistic you are about live events coming back later this year. Or you could use your love of running – whether newfound or long-term – to help others by joining GoodGym.
GoodGym is a nationwide charity that combines running with doing good deeds. In normal times these often involve group runs where you tidy up a community garden, for example, or individual runs where you visit an isolated older person.
However, during the COVID-19 pandemic GoodGym has stepped up its efforts to help people by undertaking tasks like collecting prescriptions, delivering groceries, changing lightbulbs and preparing the homes of people being discharged from hospital (members who enter older people’s homes are all DBS checked and trained).
Its admirable work and GoodGym’s efforts have recently been boosted by a £200,000 donation from the Zurich Community Trust.
By now you’re surely convinced, and probably itching to get going to help people out on your runs. GoodGym operates in 58 local authority areas, including 24 in London, and you can find the one closest to you on the charity’s website.
It takes a week or so after signing up to be assigned tasks for GoodGym, since it involves a background check. You will also get training around the COVID-19 guidelines to help you stick to social distancing regulations on your missions.
Once the world returns to normal we also highly recommend taking part in GoodGym group sessions. We joined one in London a couple of years ago that involved running to a community garden, doing some work there and even fitting in a few bodyweight exercises on the run back. It’s a fun way to meet people, helpful to others, and good for your fitness – and we even learned about mulching. What better way to spend your time?
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.