This weekend saw many of us switch off our lights for Earth Hour. Our planet’s resources are not infinite and in addition to recycling my garbage, I like to do what I can to help conserve energy (although, I did do a lot of that in my 30’s, sitting on my backside) and to help me save money. Hey, I am Scottish, after all. So Saturday night made a nice change. Rather than me, following our two boys around the house, turning off lights as they move from room to room, this time it was them shouting at me, from the foot of the stairs, at 8.30pm to get off the PC.
But there are a few other ways that I like to contribute my bit to saving the planet, my waistline and my wallet.
As I transformed from size XXXXL to a Medium, I couldn’t afford to replenish my wardrobe, every few months. So, I did what all frugal minds would do. I bought the stuff that other people could no longer fit into (and donations from shops). Even now (in these days of austerity), I still pick up the odd bargain with pilates rings, hiking poles and boxing gloves all now sitting in a cupboard just waiting for me to actually use them (I will use them, honest).
And it’s not just about getting, it’s about giving too. During my incredible shrinking man period, I also donated my fair share of clothing, with my old 22 inch neck shirts now being used as emergency aid tents in impoverished countries. So go through your old and unwanted gear and pop down to your local charity shop. You never know, you might just get yourself some great gear to get your heart racing.
But this is supposed to be a running blog, I hear you say. Well, I am also saving the planet one foot at a time, while following the advice of the good people at NICE, who want to see more people walking and cycling. In addition to getting back on my bike (recycling?), I now run to work most days. Yes, it’s the same daily route, but there’s something satisfying in winning my daily game of “Race the Bus”. I always envisage the passengers watching me run past everyday, thinking that they should do the same. It would be nice to know that my daily commute inspired at least one other person to get off the bus and put on their running shoes. Not only does it help keep me active, get me fit (help with my upcoming 5×50 Challenge and impending Edinburgh Marathon) and save me bus fare, but it also gets me to work earlier (and home sooner). It gives me energy to face the day and, at the end of the day, it is the perfect way to clear my mind and wind down. And with my virtual racer on my Garmin watch, I also get to try and beat myself most days (and not just for eating that Mars bar). As the weeks pass, I can feel myself getting stronger and slightly faster. Ascending West Nile Street isn’t as tough and I’m even, on the way home to Langside, running up the steps in Queens Park a la Rocky style (no, not ripped like Rocky, just wearing similar ripped second hand clothing).
I am a guest speaker at the National Active Travel Conference in May, where I’ll be speaking about how I have been encouraging others to walk, run and cycle more (funnily enough), and if I can continue losing weight (10lbs since I started a few blogs ago) I might even treat myself to a nice new (and not just to me) jacket. They were having a BOGOF deal on merino tops at the weekend and I couldn’t resist. I might not run like a pro, but I’ll at least look like one (all the gear and no idea).
And again, I know this is a running blog, but I would not be a runner, if I was not a walker first and one of the key events in my life was signing up for the Paths For All Step Count Challenge which starts on April 15th. It’s another £5 event, but this time, rather than donating to charity you get a nifty wee Pedometer. I was honoured to be their National Step Count Champion last year and on top of everything else, I’m looking forward to leading a hundred or so (hoping for more) colleagues from work, again this year. If walking, running or cycling for 50 consecutive days seems a little too much for you right now, then the simple goal of this challenge is to get you to take more steps each week for eight weeks than you do presently. And, if you remember last week’s blog, the key to good health is an active life.