Running has saved my sanity at various points over the last 15 years. It's given me the space to escape the stresses of the world, it's led me on pathways I'd have never discovered, it provides the peace of nature when all seems lost.
That doesn't mean it's a perfect marriage, that running and I haven't fallen out every so often along the way, or that I jump out of bed every morning with a smile on my face so full of joy to face the early morning pounding.
I often find myself fighting the duvet arguing in my head about why I should go. For me, running generally gives back after the actual event of doing the run. The endorphins reward you with a smug-zone feeling for the rest of the day – but convincing yourself at some god-early hour to get out of the warm bed and venture out is an ongoing battle.
It's for this reason that I've often looked to challenges or events that would help convince the nay-sayer voice in my head to don the lycra and head out onto the path.
A couple of years ago, I was looking for such a challenge that I could sign up to for the year, a set number of miles I could aim for and a reason to do it. However, consulting the oracle of Google only brought back numerous virtual challenges that resulted in cheap glitzy medals. The kind made in far-flung places for a penny-a-pop by workers with dubious working conditions and a worrying carbon footprint. Compounding this realisation was the fact we'd just had a clear out in our house and had dozens of such medals from our daughters' gym years that no one would recycle, coupled with a drawer full of ill-fitting Race T-shirts that we'd amassed along the way. It didn't sit well with me.
It all added up to one thing, I didn't want to run for bling that could ruin the planet.
I try consciously to limit my footprint, I'm not perfect, but it's there in my everyday decisions these days. One of the things about running I love is that it doesn't have to have a high impact on the environment. There's a lot more effort from manufacturers to use recycled plastic for our clothing. Investment in offsetting their carbon and schemes like 'Recycle your Run' by Runners Need are becoming more prevalent.
With all this swirling around in my head on a run one day, I had a thought that maybe runners didn't have to run just for cheap glitzy bling. What if we could harness the power of all those miles run by thousands of people every day and reward them with something good for the planet? What if runners could plant trees with their miles? What if the incentive to get out on a 5k run wasn't just about getting fitter for you? What if that 5k run could plant 5 trees? Trees that would last a lifetime. Trees that created the oxygen that we need. How about, with every run you did, you could see the positive impact your miles made on the world.