It’s that time of year again—when we tend to make resolutions and set goals for the New Year. For many of us, our goals probably have something to do with running (dare I say redemption at Speedgoat 50k this year?).
Running goals are important—they give us something to work towards, as well as celebrate when we accomplish them. However, today’s blog post is not about helping us reach our goals—it’s about encouraging us to resolve to give back to our communities and be better stewards of the environment.
Runners typically go the extra mile and already do what’s presented here (after all, many of these ideas came from my running friends), but it’s always good to have a reminder and a list to keep us accountable throughout the year.
1) Give Your Shoes a Second Life
An average runner goes through several pairs of shoes a year. Instead of letting them pile up in the back of the closest or in your garage (guilty), give your shoes a new life by donating them to a reuse program. Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program has been turning shoes (any brand) into surfaces and new products for years. Another option is donating them to Soles4Souls, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting the impact and perpetuation of poverty through the distribution of shoes and clothing.
2) Be a Trash Collector
If you see it, pick it up and carry it out. I’ve been noticing more trash on the trail lately (gel tops and the like) and it’s hard to just run past it, so I’ve been picking it up. Most of what I spot on the ground is probably left unintentionally, but let’s make a pact to pick up any trash we see and be more conscientious with our wrappers as we’re fueling during our runs.
3) Be a Small Change Runner
Do you have a race or an adventure coming up? Join the Small Change movement, an initiative to donate money to organizations making a difference in the cities we visit for a race or adventure. It’s such an easy way to create community goodness one race at a time.
4) Skip a Race
Volunteer instead—it’s a great way to give back to the running community and experience a race in a different light. It’s also a good way to scope out a race before you run it. I’m planning on volunteering at Miwok 100k in May (and hopefully, running it in 2016).
5) Give the Gift of Running
I was lucky and had a positive role model who instilled a passion for running (thanks, dad). However, many young kids today don’t have the same life experiences or role models. Fortunately, organizations such as Girls on the Run and Let me Run are dedicated to making sure kids stay active and gain an appreciation for running. Give the gift of running and consider being coach for one of these inspiring organizations.
6) Donate Your Race Medals
If you’re like me, you probably have several race medals hanging around (maybe on a doorknob?). Instead of letting them dangle, donate them to Medals4Mettle, a nonprofit organization who gives them to ill children and adults.
7) Get Dirty on the Trails
I’ve written about the importance of trail maintenance in the past and feel strongly that we have the responsibility to support and maintain the places where we run. Our parks and wildplaces don’t take care of themselves.
8) Make A Dog’s Day
If you have a dog, most likely they join you on many of your runs—for those who don’t, you can still have a four-legged running buddy. I’ve learned that many shelters and pet rescue/adoption services will “loan” out a dog to get exercise. Check out what’s available in your area and consider taking a furry new friend out for a run. Look for a blog post on this topic soon.
Yes, that’s right—walk. I realize telling runners to walk can be challenging, but it will be worth the effort. On your next run, slow it down a bit and walk—at least for a while. If you’re on your usual route, you might be surprised by what you see along the trail. When we’re running, we tend to not notice small details around us, slowing down results in a fresh perspective.
10) Have Fun
Probably one of the most important reminders on the list. Make sure your running year is filled with many smiles and laughter. As the saying goes, if you’re not having fun, why do it? While not every mile will be easy, the highs and lows encourage both mental and physical fortitude. And I’m confident that working your way through this list will remind all of us why we love to run.
I’d love to hear about your experiences as you make your way through the list. Drop me a note and share how it’s going—or better yet, share your experiences in the comments section to inspire others. In the meantime, I hope your New Year is filled with many miles and adventures (and hopefully, a few PR’s).
Happy New Year.