There’s nothing worse than paying money to join an expensive gym, then running on the spot on a boring machine, while watching depressing news, in order to ‘get fit’. Far better is to combine running (or just walking if you prefer) out in the natural world. You then don’t just get the physical benefits, but also enjoy the mental benefits of being in the fresh air, and getting some negative ions.
As long as you progress gradually, running is pretty safe as long as you’re fairly fit to start with. If you’re not, then just walk, it’s just the same benefits, but slower! What’s more important is that you check for safe routes (not near traffic) and invest in some good hi-glow waterproofs, so you’re seen in the dark or murky weather.
choosing sustainable runner’s clothing
Running gear tends to be more comfortable than standard clothes, but you don’t have to buy into trends, some organic cotton joggers and a tee will usually suffice. Be careful with recycled plastic bottle clothing (lycra leaches microplastics from machines). SochSoch (use coupon code englandnaturally for 10% discount) is a clothing brand that makes fitted organic cotton t-shirts, for men, women and children. All have outdoorsy themes of running, hiking, biking, sailing and beach.
Organic cotton fibres are not treated with chemicals (so last longer) and are better for the planet, water and farmers (hoodies contain recycled polyester so if used, wash in a microplastic catcher).
The range of clothing is all printed with nontoxic water-based inks and sent in plastic-free packaging. All the t-shirts are in a wide range of colours, so you can stock up on basics for summer. The t-shirts mostly have set-in sleeves with rib neck collars, in single jersey fabric.
Organic cotton costs a little more, but it’s far better for the planet as it is free from chemicals and pesticides that harm water supplies and wildlife (and farmers who grow the cotton – they also don’t have to wear uncomfortable protective clothing if farming organically). As the fibres have not been treated by chemicals, they tend to last longer too, which means garments are more cost-effective long-term.
invest in good vegan running shoes
Good Guys Go Vegan (France, use coupon code englandnaturally for 20 Euros discount) has been around for years, before France even had a vegan! Made ethically in Italy from quality breathable materials, just search online to find your favourites. These running shoes are unique and best-sellers the world over. And stylish? Come on – they’re french!
As most quality vegan shoes are still sold online, visit the shoe shop (afternoons when your feet are their proper size) and get your feet measured (or measure your own feet). It only takes a second. If you’re a half-size, it’s usually okay to order the bigger size (feet swell when running and you’ll likely be wearing socks). But it’s best to find the exact size for other shoes (it may be a case of trial and error – European brands don’t offer half sizes).
Fiona Oakes is an amazing woman. Missing one kneecap, she nevertheless trained to become a firefighter. Then she opened a farm sanctuary (running marathons to raise money). She even created vegan running shoes with profits to help the animals. They have breathable and water-resistant uppers and deep outsole lugs for traction on all terrain and speed lacs and a storage pouch on the tongue.
tips for safe running with dogs
If you run with young and fit (not old or overweight) dogs, Blue Cross has essential safety tips (check vet beforehand). These include:
- Don’t run with brachyephalic dogs (short muzzles, flat faces: pugs, bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, boxers, shih tzus).
- Check weather and paving heat before you go (use grass/dirt trails over sand or woodchip). If weather heats up, stop and find a shady place and soak coat with cool (not ice-cold) water and give a drink, and see a vet if you suspect heat exhaustion (dogs especially with longcoats can even overheat in cold weather).
- Leave two hours after meals, to avoid bloat.
- Don’t run with young dogs, as their bones are still growing.
- Ensure good recall so dogs don’t pull on harnesses.
- Carry a foldable water bowl, safety lights and poo bags (go beforehand, as running causes bowel movements).
- Rest if dogs are tired, then just walk slowly home.
- Rinse paws with warm water after running in snow and ice, to avoid rock salt heating up indoors).
- Give dogs time to stop and sniff!
running around the coast of Britain
Coasting is a great book by Elise, who on graduating had a nice flat, a proper job and budding relationship. But she was utterly miserable, and spent a lot of time crying on buses. So sitting at work one day, she hit upon the obvious solution: she would run 5000 miles around the coast of Britain, with her kit on her back!
Over 301 days (with no running experience and unable to read a map or pitch a tent), she developed a fear of farmyard animals, cried on a lot of beaches – and saw her country at its most wild and wonderful. A book about putting one foot in front of the other (even when it feels impossible).
Elise Downing is a sea-loving runner from the middle of the Midlands. She writes various things on the Internet and on paper for a loving. When not covering stupid distances by foot, she loves wild swimming and post-adventure trips to the pub.