The Wall

Everything you need to be a smarter, faster runner.

How to Be an Eco-Friendly Marathoner

11 March

When it comes to eco-friendly exercise, outdoor running is about as low-environmental-impact as you can get. It doesn’t require much in the way of gear. You don’t have to drive to a field or other location in order to train. You can run in virtually any environment or weather conditions (except lightning storms). If you want to green your road race preparation and day-of routines, there are a few simple ways to put your best foot forward.

Green your gear

While running doesn’t require a lot of gear, athletic apparel companies would have you believe otherwise. A runner’s preference in gear, whether minimalist or over-the-top high-tech, is a very personal choice. If you are in the market for some new shoes or special moisture-wicking reflective attire, heart-rate monitors and Batman-esque tool belts, think green. Choose gear that is recyclable or made from recycled materials, uses non-toxic dyes and comes with minimal and recyclable packaging. Sometimes, less is more. The best way to go green is just to use less. Invest in a good pair of shoes, like Brooks Green Silence, and some moisture-wicking clothes, such as the Under Armour Catalyst Tee and the Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts.

Green your training

Whether your race will be fairly flat or an endless series of steep inclines, you want to train in an environment most similar to conditions you’ll encounter on race day. Sure you could drive out to your favorite trails or back roads to train for the big day, but why not run there? Alternatively, stay local and get creative with your route. If you live in a big city that’s mostly flat but you know your race will have lots of hills, find some great stairs to incorporate into your route. If you live in the suburbs, practice running snakes (up and down the bleacher steps in a snaking pattern) on the bleachers at the local high school.

Choose a green marathon

Eco-friendly marathons are cropping up all over the U.S. When you’re choosing the right race for you, keep in mind all that goes into the organization of a major event like a marathon. Some races offer carbon offsets for runners that have to travel to participate in the event. Other races use pace cars and security vehicles that are hybrid engines or run on biodiesel. Some races skip pace cars altogether and use bicycles instead. You can help save some trees and register online or opt to forgo the swag bag. If you really love the swag and can’t bring yourself to give it up, look for a green marathon that hands out reusable swag bags filled with earth-friendly goodies.

Other ways bring the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle) to your running

Reduce your energy expenditures and material consumption wherever you can. Always keep in mind conservation.

Reuse things as much as possible. When your t-shirt drawer overflows with souvenirs of all the races you’ve run, turn them into a really cool quilt.

Recycle your old gear. Running shoes can wear out pretty quickly, as can the clothes you run in. Don’t throw them out. Find a local retailer that accepts clothes and shoes for recycling.

This guest post is contributed by Mia Henderson, a freelancer and blogger at While most of her career has been spent covering the energy industry, she’s also adopted a burgeoning interest in technology and innovation.