Running: The Most Sustainable Sport you can do Right Now

If you’re into sports and getting fit, why not make the most of it and choose one that’s more sustainable and friendly on the environment?

Golf is certainly out of the question. This isn’t a knock against the sport and the people who love to play golf, but the water requirements to maintain a single golf course is insane. On average, it takes around 312,000 gallons of water per day to keep the grass green on a single golf course!

It only goes up in the summer, to a maximum of over 1 million gallons or more in the American Midwest. Imagine how much water it takes to maintain golf courses in Dubai and Saudi Arabia where it’s perpetually sweltering? Plus there’s the cost of owning the best shoes, drivers and clubs to up your game and be competitive.

Try Running

If you want to engage in a sustainable sport that won’t break the bank in terms of gear and venue, you might want to give running a try. With running, all you need are eco-friendly running shoes, shorts, a singlet and your feet. You can even try running barefoot if you feel you can pull it off. No other special equipment necessary.

For your shoes, do a little research on brands that use sustainable manufacturing practices and those who use green or recycled materials. Stay away from brands that are known to engage in unfair labor practices or those who refuse to go green. Brooks, Newton and Vibrams are known for sustainable manufacturing.

It’s also a good idea to go to a running store and get a gait analysis so you can be fitted with the right shoes. The worst thing you can do is start running with the wrong shoes – this can cause injuries down the road. For your clothes, any material that wicks away your sweat and doesn’t promote chafing is good. Avoid cotton and loose clothing.

Types of Running

Once you have your basic running gear sorted out, you can choose what type of running you want to engage in.

  • The most basic is Road running, where all you need are your feet touching pavement. Road runs are mostly straight and done on any paved surface, so you can do it pretty much anywhere you go. Short dirt paths are OK, as long as it continues on towards a paved surface. Famous marathons like the NYC and Boston Marathon are road races.
  • Trail running is where runners run on footpaths or bike trails, usually out in the woods where the terrain could be rocky, wet and muddy. Running shoes won’t cut it here, so you’d have to get trail shoes and bring lots of water. Be on the lookout for wild animals, and don’t come home clean! Trail running and mud are best buddies.
  • Mountain running is an offshoot of trail running, but is done on hills and mountains at elevation. During competitions, runners aren’t allowed to bring any extra gear such as ropes, maps, gloves, etc. because runners can only run on the predefined course laid out for them, which is usually 12 km for men and 8 km for women.
  • Skyrunning is yet another offshoot, but this time of Mountain running. Think of it as Mountain running on steroids: you’d have to run up and down a mountain with a height exceeding 2,000m and an incline that exceeds 30%. There’s climbing involved, so gear such as gloves, poles and crampons can be used.
  • Orienteering isn’t running  per se, but you’ll be doing lots of it while lost in unfamiliar territory. This is more challenging because you need to know how to read maps and navigate. You won’t need a very detailed topographic map covering the entire Canada, but you will need a topographical map of the area you’re in and a compass.

Running is also also one of the most frugal sports out there. Unlike other disciplines, where your gear is the star of the show, running doesn’t really care what you have on. Just as long

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