Q&A: How to Start Eco-Running

It’s no secret that a run around the block can be very rewarding for an individual. However, some are turning that “me” time into something more than just a therapeutic jog. It’s called eco-running, and according to Wikipedia, it is the variation of recreational running in which the participant collects litter on the surrounding path.

Stop your run to pick up trash? This might sound like a good way to throw off your pace and keep you from making that next PR. But for Samuel Huber, running isn’t about personal goals.

Known as the Eco-Runner, Huber has taken the term eco-running to the next level. Together with his wife, Huber has created a website dedicated to this fitness philosophy—mixing a cardio workout with the act of giving back to the community by keeping it clean. We caught up with him last week via email to learn more about this inspiring mindset.

When did you start eco-running?

I started eco-running in the spring of 2007. I realized, shortly after moving to the city of Milwaukee, that our urban landscapes are rather overrun with litter. I noticed it even more as I began running different routes throughout the city. Having trash brush up against me as I ran was too much to handle. Therefore, the start of Ecology Runner.

What inspired the name Eco- or Ecology Runner?

The inspiration came while running down a trail from Lake Park to Bradford Beach on the eastside of Milwaukee, I looked into the woods and was shocked at the amount of trash I saw. As far as the eye could see, there was litter mixed amongst the leaves, hung up on branches, and blowing through the fallen debris. I thought, “How ridiculous; someone has to do something about this.” No one else was around, so I picked up a plastic bag stuck on a tree and DID something about it.

Later that night, I recalled my act and thought about how good it felt to clean up, and how nice it looked after I was done. I loved my run, and the positive environmental change that I made, however small. The name, Ecology Runner, came along shortly after I decided others needed to know; the website followed.

What do you have to say to those who believe eco-running would disturb their pace?

Well, I always mention that ecology runners are a different breed of runner. In my philosophy, I mention the environment over ego ideal. Think about your weekly running routine. Whether it’s 20, 50, or more than 80 miles per week, those hours add up to a lot of “me” time. Therefore, I’ve thought about what I can do to change this; combining this “me” time with the bigger picture. I am always in training, so I never consider a few stops along the way detrimental to my fitness. I consider those stops a pleasure.

Eco-runners look beyond their watch, pace, PR and internal goals. They run in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds them. As much as they appreciate nature, they also realize its delicacy. Furthermore, eco-runners know they can make a difference. They add environmental awareness and sustainability to their list of running goals. They beautify our world while they run.

Can you eco-run on a treadmill? Using a treadmill altogether doesn’t seem very eco-friendly…

Nope. Did you know that out of all motorized pieces of fitness equipment, treadmills use the most energy? You’ll pile up your CO2 emissions in a hurry on one of those beasts. Avoid.

What is the strangest/unbelievable piece of litter you have ever encountered?

A stove, refrigerator, and microwave lumped together in the ditch. The fridge was still full of food. Not a pretty site; and it took more than me to take care of that mess (I called for reinforcements, the local salvage yard).

What are some tips for folks who would like to start eco-running?

Use up the plastic bags you have lying around your house for your eco-runs. Once those are gone, use a reusable bag and wash it, or purchase biodegradable bags. Enjoy nature, take pride in the good deed, don’t worry about time, and feel the deep burn from the frequent squats you’ll be performing (hee).

What is your favorite kind of running shoes? How do you apply your eco-friendly lifestyle to your footwear?

I am a huge advocate of the natural running style; therefore, my go-to shoes are Newton Running shoes. I love this company! I’ve worked with Danny and Jennifer Abshire, as well as members of the Newton staff, and they are really stand-up, respectable, and kind people. Newton Shoes provide the most natural form of running while protecting the foot from injury. They promote proper foot strike, balance, weight return and posture. They also look amazing!

In addition, they are a very socially responsible company and implement the following environmentally-friendly features in each pair of shoes: 100% recycled yarn shoe laces, 100% recycled webbing ECOPET Recycled insole topcover that also incorporates anti-friction and anti-bacteria technology, a minimum of 10% recycled outersole rubber, 100% post consumer recycled material shoebox and soy ink, (please reuse or recycle this shoe box), no hang-tags and a reusable Newton 10 Laws to Running Better shoe divider.

[Image via Flickr]

2 Comments on “Q&A: How to Start Eco-Running

  1. Inspiring stuff! Love the work Sam is doing for Eco-Running.

    Great article Jeanette. Now to grab my bag & head off for an eco-run…

  2. Very cool! I will have to start taking plastic bags with me!

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