As endurance athletes we are constantly looking for ways to go further and faster with less effort and less negative impact on our bodies. As more of us spend time in the waves and wilderness, the environments we love are coming under even more stress than we are. Every athlete understands the need for balance. They also are the ones who can positively impact not just their own lives, but also the lives of those they inspire by what they do and share. As prevalence of phrases like “Social Entrepreneur,” “Social Impact,” and “Sustainability” increasingly become calls to action – the question is not just what we can do it’s what we do with what we can do. Organizations such as LiVEBLUE, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Legion of Ocean Heroes, and Surfrider Foundation recognize that making even the smallest donation or change can lead to a huge effect.
The Hawaiian Ironman may have made us aware of what we can accomplish as a triathlete, but without the action of signing-up, heading out the door and stepping over the start line there is no way to earn your IM tattoo or first finish line. Here are a few ocean positive and earth friendly actions that can insure we have thriving waters and trails in which to train, race, and play.
Reduce & Re-use:
- Cross train with a second purpose by biking to your swim workout or running to the gym.
- Tell WaWa you don’t need a bag because you brought your own…they aren’t just for the grocery store
- Have your own cup for that post workout coffee stop
- Lesson your carbon footprint and look for trails or training venues closer to home or work
- Keep your favorite training gear, clothing and toys around longer because fashion driven new colors and styles won’t make you fitter, stronger or faster
- Re-usable water bottles aren’t just for workouts
- Create carpool opportunities within your local training group or club
- Choose eco-friendly hotels or local bed and breakfasts at your next overnight event. Check out the hotel’s website or look at www.greenhotels.com.
- Use eco-friendly or bio-degradable soaps and solvents on your bikes and gear
- When shipping gear – Offset the climate impact with programs like UPS Carbon Neutral
- Bring “High-techness” or earth friendly to eating out by always carrying your own titanium or bamboo utensils or stainless-steel straws. Bring the same tools in your race bag to use at the post-event buffet to skip the plastic.
- Turn in your timing chips. If the race is using the new disposable chips let the race directors know you want them disposed of responsibly. The disposable timing chips contain elements that are not biodegradable.
- Leave less than a trace when you hit the trails by carrying out empty nutritional packages and then recycle them with GU and Terracycle Performance Nutrition Recycling Program
- Patch and re-use your tubes
- Give your training shoes a second life through a local or national recycling program like Soles4Souls
- If your training spot or race does not have a recycle bin or program hold on to your empties until you find one. Ask the host or venue director to implement a recycling program.
- Preserve your favorite venues by volunteering at beach clean-ups or trail maintenance days hosted by local environmental groups. Better yet don’t ever leave a workout without removing at least one piece of trash along the way.
- Recycle good advice by becoming an advocate for sustainable training and racing.
- One too many bikes in the garage? Donate it to a growing number of initiatives like WellBuilt Bikes in Tampa that take used and discarded bikes to benefit and empower the local homeless population.
Ask, Support & Inspire
- Make “Sustainability” part of your Club’s or Training Group’s list of goals
- Choose Reef Friendly Sunscreens that are good for you and the ocean environments where many of us visit, train, and race.
- Ask the Race Director what he is doing to make the event more sustainable for the community and environment
- Support companies that support the environments and the communities we love through alliances with groups like 1% For the Planet or Conservation Alliance
- Eating out to celebrate? Make more sustainable food and meal choices and if seafood is on your menu follow Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program and always ask your server to go strawless
Heading out the door for an easy run does not have to be complicated, nor does being aware of our individual impact on the environment and our global community. The path to every finish line starts with one step in the right direction; and creating a sustainable endurance program towards that same finish line can also start with just one step. Athletes are action types, so make those small actions add up and count.
Learn more by checking out some of the groups linked above in the article. Here are a few more companies working to make action easier for the long run:
Bruckner Chase is a triathlon and swim coach, ocean lifeguard trainer, endurance waterman and ocean advocate whose marine and community endeavors have taken him to waters around the world is places such as Australia, American Samoa, Denmark, Greece and Poland. He is a global ambassador for the Lifesaving World Championship 2018 organizing committee, and he is the Technical Director and Media Ambassador for the Red Bull Surf + Rescue Championships. Closer to his home in New Jersey he is a member of the Sea Girt Beach Patrol and the founder of the Ocean City Swim Club. He is a professional member of the US Lifeguard Association, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Swim Coaches Association.
Bruckner’s athletic career spans the most challenging events on water and land. He competed as a professional triathlete, and he continues to be an elite level competitor in every endurance sport he takes on. On the water Bruckner has completed multiple ultra-distance swims and paddles in some of the harshest conditions imaginable: a record setting no wetsuit swim in Alaska, a 22-mile swim of Lake Tahoe and historic swims between the islands of American Samoa. Bruckner competes in professional surf lifesaving sports across multiple aquatic disciplines. He is the fifth American in history to compete in the iconic Coolangatta Gold Surf Iron Man in Australia, and in 2016 he became the only American to finish the event three times and the first to earn a spot on the winner’s podium.