Start the Fundraising Process Early

Give yourself plenty of time to draft your game plan. What is your goal? Who do you want to ask? How will you ask them? Training can be an intense part of a charity race and getting the ball rolling on your fundraising will keep you on track with your training schedule, as well as maximize your time to collect donations!

Don’t be Shy

Asking people for money can be awkward, especially if this is your first charity race. Starting early will give you time to get over those nerves! Believe in your mission, it’s not like you’re raising money for your next Caribbean holiday! Cancer has impacted everyone in one way or another, people will want to help you. Be proud of what you’re doing, your family and friends will be too.

Find your Personal Connection to the Cause

Finding a personal connection to your cause will help you have conviction in what you’re doing. Share your stories about cancer, and listen to other people’s stories. You will be amazed to see how many people associate similar feelings and experiences with your cause.

Create a Story

Draft a fundraising letter that you can email, print, or post on social media. The message should be compelling. Mention your personal connection to the cause. Let your donors know about the past success of the IRIS Challenge. If you participated last year, mention how much you raised and how much you hope to beat that amount by this year.

Expand your Giving Circle

Ask your family and friends to share your message. Print out flyers and donation forms that they can post in their work break rooms. Reach out to businesses in your area who might be willing to post your information, as well as donate themselves!

Utilize Social Media

Keep your progress top of mind amongst your friends and family by posting regular social media updates on the status of your training, and fundraising efforts. For example: ‘just completed my first 60km today, halfway to 120km! #IRISChallenge.’ Include a link to your donation page.


You might ask someone to donate and they say, ‘i’d love to help, can you remind me later?’ Keep a running list of the people you’ve talked to and include follow-up reminders in your calendar. People are often happy to give, but are busy at the time. They’ll be thankful you followed-up!

Get Creative!

Challenge your workplace by saying ‘i’ll take on coffee and kitchen duty for X month(s) if you help me reach my goal’! This adds fun into your fundraising, and also reinforces to your colleagues how important this cause is to you. Another great option is to put raffles together – try wine baskets, dinner and a movie packages, or 50/50 draws.

Show your Gratitude

Send personalized thank you notes to your donors. This might encourage them to help you out again next year! Another great option is to post public thank you messages on social media to let everyone know how selfless your donors are.

Have Fun!

This one’s an obvious one, but is often overlooked. You might be stressed out trying to achieve your fundraising goals while training. Remember your personal connection to the cause to keep you motivated. Believe in the cause, believe in yourself, and believe in the goodness of your family and friends who will be happy to help you!

How to Train


Keep a training log

Keeping a detailed log will allow you to track your daily training and look back at your progress as you go. Record your mileage, run times, run routes, food/water intake, and details of how the run felt physically. Wearing a heart rate monitor or a good fitness tracker will allow you to compare your progress and maintain an accurate record for your training.

Increase weekly mileage by roughly 10%

Start your training small and gradually increase your mileage week to week by roughly 10%. Begin at a pace and distance that is comfortable for your body. Allowing yourself enough time to train will ensure you don’t rush your body into an unnecessary injury. Training for your first marathon is undoubtedly a daunting task. As the weeks of training add up, the thought of completing a marathon will move from impossible to possible!

Run 3-4 days per week

It is recommended that you complete one long run for endurance and two shorter runs for speed and strength each week. Try to incorporate a route with hills in one of your shorter runs each week. Make sure you alternate your long and short runs so that you aren’t completing two longer distance runs back to back.

Cross train

Trying a different form of exercise like swimming, cycling, yoga, weight lifting, or pilates allows you to build strength and increase your aerobic ability while giving your joints and muscles a rest from running. It is recommended that you cross train at a moderate, low impact level at least twice a week. This is also a great way to beat runner’s fatigue by adding variety to your workouts.

Include rest days

Consider rest days as important as training days. Your body needs to recover from the stress of training in order to stay healthy. Allow one or two days off each week and listen to your body if you feel the need for more of a break. If you feel like you’re hitting a physical and mental wall, don’t be afraid to take a rest week to keep you motivated to continue and refresh you for the rest of your training journey.

Equip your feet

We cannot stress the importance of getting comfortable running shoes. Take the time to get fitted professionally at a specialty running store. Understand that finding the perfect pair of runners is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ sort of deal. The shoe brand that works for your friend might not work for you. Look for a style that is lightweight yet supportive, and don’t be afraid to return the shoe if its causing any discomfort.


Getting started

When you’re preparing for your first bike tour, it’s important to start slow. Ease yourself into training so you’ll stick with the routine and build your fitness levels steadily.

As always, consult your doctor before you begin if you have any health problems or are not accustomed to exercise, and remember to enjoy yourself!

Week One

During your first week, you’ll want to cycle a comfortable distance. Once you’ve achieved a base level of fitness that allows you to cycle without muscle soreness or fatigue, start incorporating resistance to your rides once or twice a week by increasing your distance by no more than 10% each week or incorporating hillier, more difficult terrain.

As you build up, make sure you do a recovery ride after big rides. These help clear waste products from your legs. For a recovery ride, we recommend 30-45 minutes with low resistance, 90 to 100 RPMs, and staying about 50 – 70% of your threshold.

Following Weeks

When you’re comfortable again, add one or two long endurance rides a week. Remember not to over train, and give your body a rest when it needs it.

Another suggestion is to work hard doing some indoor cycling, which really helps to build your interval capacity and strengthen out your legs. It’s a bit different from riding outside, but similar enough so that you will see significant benefits from a steady spin schedule. Indoor cycling coaches are also an excellent source of advice.

Muscle Strength

You may want to compliment your rides with some muscle strengthening exercises at home or at the gym. Calf-raises, squats, step-ups, leg extensions, and leg raises all work important muscle groups in the legs, while core exercises like the plank will develop muscles useful for maintaining posture on long rides. Avoid those back aches and pains by doing dumbbell rows.

Core strength is especially important for cycling but often overlooked. The core consists of your entire abdominal region. A strong, muscular core takes the work load off the back and makes it much easier to walk long distances without tiring. Strengthening your core will yield rich dividends not just on a walking tour, but in virtually every other physical activity in your life.

Staying on Task

We recommend getting a bike computer and checking your data. Seeing data such as MPH, calories burned, distance covered, etc. can be very motivating.

You’ll need plenty of support while you’re training, and online bike tour groups such as provide opportunities for you to connect with other enthusiasts. General cycling forums like often have sub-threads for touring, too.

Keeping a journal is another great way to stay motivated and track your training. Having a concrete record of your progress will help you focus on your goals, and improving stats will keep your enthusiasm high.

What to Expect

As far as time frames are concerned, a beginner preparing for a leisurely ride could reasonably expect to be ready to tour in eight weeks.

The idea of training for your first bike tour may seem daunting, but all it really takes is a little planning and hard work. Remember to hydrate and stretch before each ride, and always treat your health and safety as your number one priority. Stay dedicated to your training and you’ll be rewarded not only with a great touring experience, but better health, fitness, and strength!