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How Sustainable is Running?

Sustainability. We’ve all heard the term. But how many of us know what it means? And is running something that would be considered “sustainable?”

We should probably start with a definition. Here is what Wikipedia has to say:
“For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, the responsible management of resource use.”

There’s a lot to that definition, but if you break it down, it seems like running may be the epitome of sustainability. Long-term maintenance of well being… definitely. We all know running pretty darn economical; for those of us who enjoy group runs and races, it is definitely social; and as for environmental, I suppose that all depends on how you define it. When you consider the fact that most long-time runners probably still have running shirts and shorts they bought 10 years ago… and we’ve all met that runner who puts 1,000 miles on a pair of shoes… those both qualify. But I’m pretty sure that the most environmental aspect of running is the fact that it doesn’t require anything more than a solid existing surface (road, track, trail, or bare ground) in order to engage in this form of exercise.

Could all of us be more sustainable as runners? Definitely. But what might that entail? Most of the running shoes we wear are made in Asia, but buying locally is part of sustainability – so supporting your local running store is part of it. But I’m guessing the biggest part of sustainability for runners is the long-term health benefits of making it a lifestyle. I could certainly improve my diet a bit, but a big part of running for me is making sure I can eat what I want and stay at a reasonable weight. Think of all the health issues and costs avoided by maintaining an active lifestyle.

What other aspects of running do you think make the sport the epitome of sustainability?


One Response to “How Sustainable is Running?”

  1. I have long argued that government funding of running would be a more effective use of tax dollars(long term) than any other single expenditure that the government makes. I also fear the increasingly outrageous entry fees for road races will dampen the boom in running that is now taking place. The boom could be much larger. And in my opinion, the more runners, the better for the health of the nation. Running is not only a sustainable activity….it is the fountain of youth. Jw

    Posted by john | December 21, 2011, 10:25 pm

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