A few years ago — almost on a whim — I started running. It began as a few minutes here and there and quickly turned into my first 5K race. I went from couch potato to runner within a couple of months, and for someone whose idea of exercise was chasing after my spirited toddler or getting dinner to the table really fast — it felt great. I was hooked.
Initially, the thing I loved most about running was its simplicity. All you need is a pair of sneakers and you can quite literally hit the ground running. Perfect for a green mom looking to get fit and lighten her impact on the planet.
But ask any runner who has been around the block a time or two and they will tell you — pretty soon it becomes all about the gear. Custom-fitted sneakers, breathable T-shirts, moisture wicking socks, and anti-fog sunglasses are standard gear at most running races. And with that gear comes petroleum-based fabrics, toxic dyes, heavy metals and heavy-duty chemical finishes. Hmm, my workout wardrobe suddenly looked a lot less green. Fortunately, there are a number of companies that are working to change that.
Patagonia is always an excellent source for environmentally responsible outdoor gear. A new company called Atayne is making waves with its line of eco-active gear like a running shirt made from recycled polyester.
Champion has a new line of Eco-Fleece sweatpants, sweatshirts and T-shirts made from recycled plastic bottles. The company sent me a few samples to try, and I have to say I was impressed by the fit, feel and flatter. Here's a pic of me sporting the Eco-Fleece crew neck at last month's Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. (I know it's not the greatest picture, but it was the best that my camera phone, and my running partner, could manage at 5 a.m.!)
When it comes to kicks, nothing holds a candle to Brooks' Green Silence. From soy-based inks to recycled materials to water-based adhesives, this shoe makes every effort to go green. It's lighter than your average running shoe because the company did away with extra pieces and parts to minimize the use of materials, dyes and glues. But don't let it's weight fool you — I gave these sneaks a spin and found them firm and cushioned, all with a lightness that added a spring to my step.
By the way, this might be a good time for a little announcement. After all, I can't back out after I've told a million readers, can I? This November, I am planning to run my first marathon. That's right, I said marathon — 26.2 miles! On any given day, I waver between being psyched and psyched-out about it. I mean, it really wasn't that long ago that I was winded in less than a mile. But I'm going to give it my best shot. For as hard as the training will be on me, at least I know that my training gear will be easy on the planet.
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