Joggers and ultramarathon runners tend to brag about how environmentally friendly their sport is. But if you take a closer look, there are a few things that can make this claim (slightly) questionable. Eco-running: 3 tips to try…
- Don't Drop Anything (at all!)
- We're all guilty of it. Every runner – at one moment (of distraction) or another – has polluted the environment with a paper tissue or piece of packaging. Even the most popular mountain paths used by trail runners aren't spared. Race organisers often have to clean up Alpine trails the morning after a big race…
- Empty energy gels – and, for that matter, banana skins and dried fruit and chocolate bar foil wrappers – should be put back in your pocket rather than being thrown blindly on the floor.
- In the case of mass races (like 10 kms and half or full marathons in cities), organisers set up bins after the food stations. You can leave plastic bottles, paper cups and various other items there. If you're trying to beat a personal record and fear losing a precious second by going to the bins, too bad: you should do what you can to help the volunteers and prevent the ground from being strewn with rubbish…
- Leave your Car (and any other type of Motorised Vehicle) Behind
There are already far too many runners who drive (or ride their scooter) to wherever they go running. There is no way that you can cope with the intensity of a training session but lack any ability to pedal your bike (not to mention use public transport) before or after training.
- Bikes are often the best way of being on time to meet up with your friends, without getting stuck in traffic.
- Why not jog to your training session as an environmentally friendly warm-up before a group run? Running before your actual run is a cunning way of upping your weekly distance and training your body for interval work.
- Don't believe the myth that large events in cities (like the New York Marathon) are less environmentally friendly. In fact, it's the opposite. The facilities are set up for it, the volunteers don't have to travel very far and public transport offers a great alternative to cars.
- Recycle (Without Waiting Till the Last Minute)
How many T-shirts, fleeces, windproofs, shorts, leggings and, of course, pairs of shoes pile up in the back of runners' wardrobes over the years and sit gathering dust? Sadly, it's rare for runners to have a spring clean and donate their old clothes to charity collections or even to race organisers.
Everyone should plan to give their running wardrobe a bit of a clear-out at least once a year. All you have to do is ask yourself whether an item of clothing (and yes, shoes count too!) is ever used: have you worn this piece of clothing during the last 12 months? If you haven't, then stick it in your recycling pile before the moths - or even the dust - forces you to just bin it.
If you want to be an eco-runner, encourage race organisers to do everything they can to limit the impact of their event. "Green" or "zero waste" labels are a real draw.