Maybe you did Boston last year, along with Ottawa, Chicago, Disneyland, and a 5km Run for the Cure in your home town. Have you ever stopped to consider how much energy that required? Frequent traveling for any reason is hard on the environment. I’m not saying you shouldn’t travel but perhaps it’s time for a little reflection. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
1. Check your ego. Are you competing because you love it (or could win it) or do you just want the T-shirt? In other words, do you really like the experience of running with tens of thousands of other people or are you just doing it to impress people? Honestly nobody cares if you did the Boston Marathon or the one in your back yard – both are impressive goals to have accomplished!
2. Stay local. Clearly if you are an elite athlete, you will have competitions everywhere but for the rest of us, why not compete locally. Whether you are playing golf or doing triathlons, you can find events close to home. Reducing travel distance will save you money and reduce emissions into the atmosphere. Double awesome!
3. Make your own “event”. Grab a few fit friends and plan out your own marathon route. Take water with you or plan your route near places you can stop for water. Make your own racing bibs if you really want to! You can even have a theme or wear the same color. Have fun with it! When you are done, celebrate by going out for a recovery breakfast or making it together at someone’s house. Personally, that sounds like way more fun than dealing with the commotion, overcrowding, and stress of a really big event. Then again, some people thrive on the energy and excitement of a big event. My point is that you can run a marathon without having a big impact on the environment. Just step outside!
4. Double up your events with family vacations or sightseeing. If you are going to use the fuel to fly or dirve somewhere anyway, you might as well stay there for a little bit! Whether you are going to Calgary or Hawaii, there’s always something interesting to do when you get there. I recommend planning your time so that the race is at the beginning of your trip. This makes it easier to follow your pre-race routine and lets you enjoy your time with your friends or family without stressing about anything.
5. Forget the prizes. Do you really need (or want) another t-shirt? Another medal? Maybe you do want another medal to add to your Success Wall or to throw in a shoebox with all the other ones. One day your children or grandchildren will toss it out when they are cleaning out your attic or basement. Not to be morbid…I’m just saying, why are we using our resources to make this stuff that we don’t really need? You can’t take it with you.
6. Use more eco-friendly carb supplements. During an endurance event, there is no question that you need to supplement with quickly digestible carbs. There are eco-friendly options here! Opt to use gels that come in biodegradeable packaging or better yet, you can get little reusable squeeze bottles and fill them with a natural energy product like Carb Boom which comes in a big bottle that you keep in the fridge. As consumers, our choices drive the market so the more you choose eco-friendly options, the more they will be available 🙂
7. Alternate years. Do you have to do Disneyland every single year? Mix it up and do a local event on odd years and an away event on even years. Get the best of both worlds so to speak. I also think it makes going away more special when you don’t do it all the time.
8. Eliminate one-time use cups & bottles. Take a reusable mug and water bottle with you on your trip. Have your support team give you cold water when you reach the finish line instead of reaching for bottled water. There was a time before bottled water!
I hope that gave you some thoughtful ideas on how to make your participation in sports more planet-friendly. Tens of thousands of people gathering from all over the world does make an impact!