I wish that more sportswear manufacturers considered sports bras a piece of performance equipment. Sports bras for running need to be designed to prevent chafing, provide adequate support for a higher-impact sport, and have great breathability. Since I started running longer distances, mitigating issues like chafing has become increasingly important. I often found chafing was a problem and general irritation from the seams. I blamed this on cheaper-made sports bras, to which more often than not comfort and performance are sacrificed for quick sales and aesthetics.
A True Performance Sports Bra
Enter Lume Six, a sports bra company that has performance, fit, and the environment in mind. Lume Six sports bras are unlike any other on the market – I can say that because I’ve tried and tested them myself. To begin with, you can adjust the sizes in the band and the chest, to customize the fit to your body shape. Margaux, owner, and founder of Lume Six explains that one of the biggest issues when choosing a sports bra for running is finding the right fit. For example, a sports bra can fit well on the chest but not on the shoulders. This then increases the chances of chafing and drastically reduces the support the bra can provide.
I chose the Alta Medium Impact Sports Bra. This bra was created for flexible support (a step down from maximum) and the highest breathability possible. As a smaller-chested woman, I don’t need a high level of support, however, fitting a bra can be tricky as often the chest will fit but I won’t fit the cups. Being able to customize the fit of the straps allows my Alta bra to fit snug, and feel weightless on my body. Weightlessness is a particularly favorite feature of mine, as I like that light feeling when I run.
The Best Sports Bra For Running
I wore my Lume Six bra in The Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k, my first shorter ultra-distance race. It performed impeccably, being supportive, breathable, and lightweight. I don’t like the extra removable padding on many sports bras for running because I can notice them. Lume Six bras don’t have them, and they don’t need them – even if you have a larger chest size. It is worth pointing out that Lume Six is a female-owned and created company. Margaux has our needs and bodies in mind when creating these high-performance sports bras. As an awesome athlete herself (you should see her rip on the mountain bike!), she knows what it takes to create a bra that meets the demands of any sport.
Medium and High Impact Sports Bras
She didn’t stop there – Lume Six sports bras are made from recycled content. She has partnered up with a sustainable fabric production company in Italy, to ensure both quality and environmental sustainability. Also, 1% of sales will go to 1% for the planet. I recommend the Alta Medium Impact Sports Bra for hiking, mountain biking, pilates, or if you have a smaller chest size, it works well for running. The next step up is the Cirra High Impact Sports Bra, which has higher support and is also great for running. The straps won’t bunch up and twist easily, the sports bra will dry quickly, and the seamless construction will prevent chafing. This is the ultimate performance-minded sports bra, with the environment in mind.
You’ve probably heard heat, in the training context, referred to as ‘the poor man’s altitude’. The context behind this is, altitude camps and taking the time off (generally from work, family duties, etc) is costly. There’s truth to the poor man’s altitude. You can use heat to train for altitude (cross-adaptation), and clearly, use heat to train for heat. To prepare properly for an environmental extreme such as heat, a protocol period of acclimation or acclimatization can be undertaken to elicit favorable adaptations. This is particularly important if you are going to:
Race in hot environments
Need to maintain heat adaptations over the winter for hotter races in warmer climates
Are racing at altitude but don’t have access to altitude training (cross-adaptation for runners)
The goal should be to expose yourself to the minimal dose of heat possible to elicit the most significant adaptation. This is because too much extra environmental stress can impact the most important thing of all – RECOVERY!
Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
– Albert Einstein
If you need to introduce heat training, it’s important to identify which heat protocol will work best for you given your goals, finances, and lifestyle. Working with a professional and understanding this for yourself would be advised here. The most effective protocol for an individual with a high training load, as research indicates thus far, is a passive dry sauna after an exercise session.
Is heat training good for running? And does heat make running harder?
Yes, heat training is good for running, but only when done sensibly in a planned manner, with a goal in mind. Heat Training is especially important for athletes who will race in hot and/or humid conditions. When you exercise in a hot environment, the body will undergo a series of processes to thermoregulate, in order to maintain homeostasis. If our physiological systems fail to maintain homeostasis in a really hot environment, it can result in hyperthermia. The body has failed to compensate for the environment. This is the same with hypothermia in the cold.
You’ll notice on the first hot run of a season that you’ll probably sweat more, and your perceived exertion will be higher (elevated HR). The good news is, even without a specific heat training protocol, after roughly 10 days you’d likely notice that your resting and active HR have returned to normal. A few other adaptations you’ll notice if you pay attention are an earlier onset of sweating, how much you sweat (volume), and a lower core body temperature.
What about heat training strategies for both shorter and longer trail running events?
The goal of heat adaptation will differ from trail runners to track runners, given that trail running events are often longer. This makes pre-race cooling strategies, such as ice packs on the places where you lose the most heat (head, neck, wrists, underarms, groin, etc.) effective for shorter track events. For trail running, it is best to mitigate heat as much as possible, supporting the event with an appropriate prior heat training protocol. A few good examples of trail running events you’d want to heat train for would be the Western States Endurance Run (100 miles), and Bandera 100.
How do you learn to run in the heat?
You have to get out there and run in the heat if you are in an environment that enables you to do so. Otherwise, a professionally guided heat protocol will be your next best bet. Take it easy for the first few days. Maintain hydration by drinking regularly. It’s important to remember to hydrate (electrolytes specifically) in hotter environments. Interestingly in a virtual symposium for The European College of Sports Science, Lewis James explained that “dehydration of >2% body mass degrades endurance and cognitive performance, and the effect increases with increasing ambient temperature.” What does this mean? Practice drinking during exercise, and if you’re inevitably going to face dehydration, practice for it. It also means that it doesn’t take much to impair performance. For perspective, for a 70kg/154lb male equates to 1400mls.
You can monitor urine concentration – this might be TMI, but it’s very useful. You want to be peeing pale urine rather than concentrated bright yellow. It may be helpful to monitor weight, as weight loss will indicate dehydration as well.
In around 7-10 days of running in a hot climate, you’ll likely notice a better tolerance to the heat. For trained individuals, adaptations will occur quicker, compared to the untrained individual which, after continual exposure will usually see benefits after 2 weeks. As discussed below in more detail, some helpful signs that indicate heat adaptation include an earlier onset of sweating, more sweat, and less time to fatigue conducive to a lowered HR (by this, I meant it is closer to your usual HR for the specific activity, compared to an initial spiked HR upon introduction to the heat).
How do you adapt to running in the heat?
It takes at least 10 days for adaptations to occur, but as with anything, it can differ from individual to individual, and for male and female. It’s important to make sure you prepare enough time ahead of the event.
Various adaptations occur, including a higher volume of sweat and an earlier onset of sweating. The sweat itself is more dilute than at more temperate climates. The athlete’s Heart Rate (HR) increases, and stroke volume (SV) increases (HR x SV = CO) CO, being cardiac output. Peripheral vessels will vasodilate – all changes which result in heat loss.
Heat loss is vital as the body is only as efficient as a light bulb. About 75% of the energy made during exercise is used by the muscles – the rest is lost in heat. If the body can lose heat quickly and efficiently, it can continue to exercise at its best capabilities. – hence the adaptations it makes to lose the increased heat made in hotter climates.
However, if the body cannot lose heat to the environment either due to high ambient temperature, or high humidity, or the person is not adapted to the heat, then the body will store heat, with the core temperature increasing – and this will initially impair performance but can eventually kill from severe heat stroke. (temp >41 degrees).
Long story short, it’s important to prepare for your race properly.
Some other benefits of heat training include an improved VO2 Max, Lactate Threshold (LT), lower HR under higher stress and workloads, increased fat oxidation, and therefore increased chances to lose weight (if that’s a goal). Since endurance performance is largely determined by running economy, VO2 Max and LT, heat training can help!
What are some passive methods of heat training for endurance athletes?
Sitting in a dry heat sauna is likely the best option for a heat training protocol where you don’t have access to a naturally hot environment. This is done (passively, so sitting, not exercising) straight after concluding your exercise and doesn’t have to exceed 20-30 mins in time.
The Hot Tub method requires you to be fully emerged (past shoulders) for a very similar length of time.
You’ll elicit beneficial adaptations without having to exercise in strenuous conditions or run around in a sauna suit, or more clothes.
It’s important to note that you should always undertake protocols under the guidance of a professional – this is of crucial importance if you are doing ‘active’ heat training such as running in a sauna suit or spin biking heated chamber or room. Since the benefits of a post-run dry sauna session (sitting, passive) for 20 odd minutes elicit very similar adaptations, this is the path I’d choose. You’d want to hop in very soon after exercise. A hot tub immersion for heat training could work, however, to elicit the best response you’d want to be immersed right up to your neck, and for a similar amount of time to the sauna. The sauna simply seems more comfortable and practical to me. Besides, utilizing a sauna frequently is great for reducing the risk of all-cause cardiometabolic fatalities.
Some important timing things to note:
You will begin to lose adaptations after more than 2-3 days away from heat, so it’s best to follow a protocol with a minimum of 1 dose every 2nd-3rd day
Periodize your training load around the heat protocol and/or training load, to ensure you don’t have a high training load week paired with a high heat training week.
Work with what you have available to you!
How do you recover from heat training?
It’s really important to remember that we could do all these things to try to maximize performance, but the reality is, sometimes in trying to do too much or be a perfectionist about it, we end up shooting ourselves in the foot. It is meant to be fun after all, and it isn’t meant to take over your whole life. In saying this, the goal should be to find the minimum dosage to elicit the most beneficial adaptations for the event/races you’re training for.
In applying this principle, you’ll set yourself up for more optimized recovery, and in turn, a (hopefully) better performance come race day.
Sleep is really important, as it is the only time we fully recover – optimize this. Chronic stress such as an environmental one is just that, a ‘chronic stress’. We need to account for this. The stress could be long periods at a high altitude, or training in intensive heat. If you don’t sleep enough to account for this, it could result in maladaptations, the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
More often than not, you can elicit beneficial physiological and cellular adaptations with shorter, smaller bouts of heat in the lead-up to an event, and this can be the most convenient thing for your training, time and total stress. Be smart!
Heat Training For Altitude: Cross-Adaptation For The Runner Racing At Altitude.
Does heat training help with altitude?
Heat training can help endurance athletes perform at altitude, particularly if the athlete does not have access to altitude or other mechanisms to mimic this environment (such as a chamber, an altitude tent, and actual higher-altitude environments, to name a few). Hot environments, let’s take, a dry-heat sauna, elicit stress on the system whilst it’s in a resting state, particularly if the individual spends a decent amount of time in the dry-heat sauna. Note, to elicit favorable adaptations, as mentioned earlier, 20-30 mins in the sauna post run or ride can have a multitude of positive benefits. The reason being is your core temperature is already elevated, corresponding with an elevated HR. At altitude, the physiological systems of individuals not acclimatized to the environment will experience elevated levels of stress at rest and exercise. Heat acclimation protocols can assist with attenuating this strain altitude. As discussed above in the beneficial adaptations of heat training and/or heat protocol, there will be an increase in plasma volume, and a lower core body temperature to elicit better oxygen delivery to working muscles. Better oxygen delivery to working muscles is a very favorable adaptation for an endurance athlete looking to perform at altitude.
However, as discussed in the intro of this post, stress is stress, and if an individual is living and/or training at a high altitude, and does not need to prepare for a race in the heat, heat training and protocols may not be necessary. The key pillar to successful training is even better recovery. These tools should be used under the supervision of a specialist, and the minimum dosage to elicit positive adaptations should be given. Further, the added stress of heat training and/or heat protocols should be in harmony with the training load of the athlete. For example, don’t schedule the highest volume week with the largest doses of heat training. That’s a sure way to burn out and impact recovery. For those out there that are interested in a cellular level, below I will briefly discuss heat shock protein (HSP) responses when exposed to altitude.
Heat Shock Proteins (HSP), altitude, and heat acclimation for endurance athletes.
Exercise induces stress on the cellular homeostatic mechanisms of the body. This exercise-induced challenge on these mechanisms will result in adaptations. Adaptations, both short and longer-term, are our physiological systems that maintain homeostasis in extreme environments. When cells are exposed to heat there’ll be an increase in heat shock proteins (HSP), particularly if it is in the early phases of heat introduction.
Importantly, HSP40 is activated in cells in response to physiological stress (not unlike other factors that induce HSP expression such as glucose deprivation). These HSP proteins respond to protect cell integrity and maintain homeostasis – for example, a response to hyperthermia (body temperature is well above normal, not to be mistaken for hypothermia, which is the opposite). Interestingly, for those athletes at altitude, HSP40 specifically, assists in the preservation of HIF-1 alpha which has an increased cellular response at altitude. HIF-1 plays a crucial role in the body’s response to hypoxia. This is important to note as HIF-1 acts as a dominant, “regulator of numerous hypoxia-inducible genes under hypoxic conditions.” (1) The HSP40 induced in cells as a response to heat stress is likely beneficial to performance in hypoxic environments. To put it simply, an individual who has heat trained or followed a heat training protocol prior to training or competing at altitude (such as a dry heat sauna protocol) and therefore is heat acclimated, will likely respond well to the increased physiological stress experienced at altitude. This is because, on a cellular level, heat adaptations have reduced HSP response when in a hypoxic environment.
However, there is still a need for further research into the role of HSPs, as this research could serve to benefit the likes of athletes, patients, and the general population. If you’re interested in reading more about HSPs, check this journal article out here. Further understanding of the role of HSPs in exercise physiology may prove beneficial for therapeutic targeting in diseased patient cohorts, exercise prescriptions for disease prevention, and training strategies for elite athletes. It would be interesting to monitor recovery via heat shock proteins through blood-based testing, however, this at current is not viable on a mass scale due to costs.
I hope this made you think about how you can better prepare for your next race in a strenuous environment. Whether you use a cross-adaptation technique, an intervention protocol, or outright training in the environment, preparation, timing, and harmony with the training load + other stressors and recovery are key!
Is heat training the same as altitude training?
In a literal sense, of course, heat training is not the same as altitude training. However, heat can be used to enhance performance, including endurance performance in hypoxic environments. Heat acclimation can improve our cellular and physiological functioning when exercising at altitude. Hence why earlier I mentioned the common saying, heat is the ‘poor man’s altitude.
A study by Fregly, 2011(2) noted that exposure to one environmental stressor can produce the same protective physiological adaptations needed to benefit performance in another environmental stressor. For example, moderate hypoxia and high levels of heat exposure elicit the same heat-shock response (cytoprotective HSP72). If an individual is acclimated to heat or hypoxia (focusing on longer-term exposure here), they’ll have more favorable gene expressions for increased cellular resilience to these environments. (Hutter et al, 1994) (3)
So whilst heat and altitude training are not the same in a literal sense, the cross-adaptations elicited by a sensible exercise protocol in heat are favorable to performance in a hypoxic environment (altitude).
Does heat training help with altitude?
Yes, different stimuli, including heat training, can help with running performance in hypoxic (altitude) environments. Long-term heat training protocols and exposure lead to what is called ‘acclimatory homeostasis’, where the body functions more capably in the environment; i.e. physiological systems and cells are more resilient to the environment.
I discussed some of these adaptions and responses earlier in this article but I’ll touch on it again briefly as it relates to heat and altitude cross-adaptations. Some favorable adaptations include:
Reduced exercising HR at altitude (longer-term acclimation protocols)
Increased SpO2 (oxygen saturation in the blood, a good thing to have higher levels for general health and altitude performance) (Heled et al., 2012)(4)
Greater cardiac output, therefore physiological efficiency (aka. work harder, for longer, more efficiently)
Increased HSP72 baseline levels, indicating increased resilience of a cell in stressful environments. A heat-acclimated individual (can be acute dosage/short term) will likely have an attenuated HSP response due to these increased baseline levels of HSP72. Elevated levels of HSP72 indicate that the individual has greater levels of adaptation to handle environmental stress (Lee et al., 2015)(5)
Please note that the optimal dosage of “heat” to improve the HSP72 baseline levels in the sense of long-term adaptation is still under investigation
(1) Lee, J. W., Bae, S. H., Jeong, J. W., Kim, S. H., & Kim, K. W. (2004). Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1)alpha: its protein stability and biological functions. Experimental & molecular medicine, 36(1), 1–12. https://www.nature.com/articles/emm20041
(2)Lee, B. J., Miller, A., James, R. S., & Thake, C. D. (2016). Cross Acclimation between Heat and Hypoxia: Heat Acclimation Improves Cellular Tolerance and Exercise Performance in Acute Normobaric Hypoxia. Frontiers in physiology, 7, 78. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2016.00078
(3) Hutter, M. M., Sievers, R. E., Barbosa, V., & Wolfe, C. L. (1994). Heat-shock protein induction in rat hearts. A direct correlation between the amount of heat-shock protein induced and the degree of myocardial protection. Circulation, 89(1), 355–360. https://doi.org/10.1161/01.cir.89.1.355
(4) Heled, Y., Peled, A., Yanovich, R., Shargal, E., Pilz-Burstein, R., Epstein, Y., & Moran, D. S. (2012). Heat acclimation and performance in hypoxic conditions. Aviation, space, and environmental medicine, 83(7), 649–653. https://doi.org/10.3357/asem.3241.2012
(5) Lee, B. J., Mackenzie, R. W., Cox, V., James, R. S., & Thake, C. D. (2015). Human monocyte heat shock protein 72 responses to acute hypoxic exercise after 3 days of exercise heat acclimation. BioMed research international, 2015, 849809. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/849809
I love talking about all things shoe tech. I worked for a few years in various running and outdoor specific stores in Australia. It helped me grow my knowledge on the gear side of the sport, not just from dealing with the gear on a day-to-day basis but also from chatting with customers about their experiences.
I did a similar post last year with road running shoes. So this year, I thought I’d get into the trial side of things for fun. This is a general guide exploring some of the features of the best shoes on the market heading into 2022. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and I’m by no means an absolute shoe expert, I’ve tried many shoes – but picking a shoe is very personal. Only you can truly know what will work best, and sometimes it will take a bit of trial and error. All a part of the fun of the sport.
Some general rules of thumb include:
For Ultra Races, you’ll want to prioritize shoes with extra protection and decent cushioning. You’re out there for a long time, in variable weather and mixed terrain. Comfort is a must
Durable and breathable upper, and a waterproof upper for alpine and wetter climate racing
A decent lacing system. You don’t want this to get in the way of your race
Room in the toe box for natural swelling in long-distance races.
No heel slip. Make sure that you fit properly in the shoe, don’t try and add things like ‘extra socks’ or ‘inserts’ just to fit a shoe, because you like the look of it or it’s ‘trendy’.
One of Salomon’s newest shoes, the Ultra Glide is a lightweight performance trail shoe that doesn’t compromise on cushioning and comfort for long distances on mixed terrain.
As with most trail shoes, the shoe is a neutral fit, allowing for best foot navigation (no one likes a rolled ankle). You’ll notice that this shoe has a rocker shape (the curve in the sole of the shoe). This is designed to support optimal gait efficiency and the responsiveness of the shoe.
I own a pair of Ultra Glides myself and really enjoy wearing them for faster trail-based efforts like fartleks and tempo runs.
The only thing to consider with this shoe is the upper is fabric-based, with no significant toe cap, so if you’re looking for a lot of foot protection, you may want to explore another option.
Salomon has a great article on how to choose your best trail running shoe – they discuss all the important factors, such as tread, foot support, stability, cushioning, terrain, mileage etc. click here to read more.
The North Face describes this shoe as lightweight, yet not compromising on stability. This is easy to spot given the considerable cushioning and rocker sole. It seems like this feature is going to become increasingly popular as we head into 2022.
I have personally tried this shoe and found it very responsive, which surprised me given the amount of cushioning particularly at the heel. It made for an even, “rolling” feel. It kind of pushed you forward, which is nice.
The only thing to consider with this shoe is that if you’re prone to rolling an ankle, and the terrain is very technical, you may want to consider a shoe with less heel-to-toe drop.
This is a well-cushioned trail running shoe that does well over longer distances, including both wet and dry conditions. The upper mesh is designed for optimal comfort and breathability to support its intended uses over longer distances.
Altra shoes are known for their incorporation of Vibram soles. On this model, they have utilized Vibram® MegaGrip™
I haven’t personally tried this shoe, however, I hear rave reviews from friends. They especially note the great traction as a result of the optimized outsole features.
The Speedgoat 4 sees an upgrade in the upper, with a newer mesh. It was designed to increase the security and support of the overall fit. This is a great improvement to enhance the responsiveness of the shoe over more technical terrain.
This shoe isn’t overly cushioned, ranked mid-way on Hoka’s scale, as ‘balanced’. It is also a neutral shoe – stock standard for trail specific footwear.
I have tried the Speedgoat and found them to be a great responsive, lightweight trail racing shoe. I often find I have issues with the toe box of shoes as I have very narrow feet and long toes. These shoes, along with the Torrent model have somehow designed a toe box that accommodates for a variety of metatarsal structure types.
La Sportiva has designed a very durable and stable shoe for long days out in the mountains, including ultramarathon events. The upper, midsole and outsole are all designed for optimal comfort and stability. Unlike some of the earlier shoes I’ve looked at in this post, this shoe is definitely on the side of stability over extreme lightweight features.
La Sportiva uses Trail Rocker technology to ensure there is outer heel and inner toe support, to optimize your natural running gait. Interestingly, this shoe was inspired by ‘origami’, due to its, “3 sides of a perfect geometry: Shock absorption, protection and comfort.”
I thought I’d include this shoe out of La Sportiva’s collection so there’s a bit of diversity in this article.
It’s in the name. This shoe was designed for ultrarunning races. The shoe has been designed to account for significant amounts of time on feet. That means taking into account swelling of the feet, cushioning, durability, sturdy traction, and the invisible lacing system.
The cushioning is on the higher end for this shoe, as expected for a long-distance model.
Dynafit explains that they have used ‘Heel Preloader Technology’ to provide better support and fit at the heel – another feature that is helpful for ultra-distance races.
Photo sourced from Arc’teryx. Shoe landing page is available here.
This is Arc’teryx’s go-to shoe for long-distance trail races. The update to the initial Norvan shoe release sees a lighter and more durable version. Like Altra, Arc’teryx also uses Vibram® Megagrip outsole technology for sturdy and durable traction.
There is also a decent amount of room in the toe box to account for potential swelling over longer distances. Another key standout, as quoted from the Norvan LD 2 landing page is the integration of, “Long-wearing EVA/Polyolefin midsole.” This helps account for the increased impact when running for substantial distances.
I personally haven’t tried this shoe. It’s definitely on my radar though!
I hope this gives you some good insight into the options on the market at present. There’s something for everyone, but it truly is about knowing your feet, biomechanics, considering your race distance, climate, training load, and terrain. If you can get in-store, that’s always best. Happy Trails ✌️
Strava Clubs are an excellent place to establish a community (a particularly active community) for your brand. I’m a big fan of Strava Clubs for many reasons. Strava Clubs are a great way to connect athletes with similar interests and/or goals in one place. Many businesses and sports clubs want to create a club on Strava for purposes such as connecting their team members, conducting virtual challenges, sharing meaningful content, and keeping each other inspired and accountable with their training goals.
Strava Clubs are interesting from a marketing perspective as they allow an outdoors and athlete-focused brand to establish themselves in a place where they are reaching their key target market. You don’t have to cast your net far and wide to interact with people who may interact with your brand and the community you foster around it.
We can compare it to Instagram to put it in perspective. Our Instagram feed shows us content within our areas of interest. It is designed this way, and we build our profiles in this way – to see exactly what we want, in a quick fix, at our fingertips. For example, my feed is full of posts revolving around outdoor trail running, climate change advocacy and projects, other mountain sports, and of course, content from my friends and family. It’s what I’m interested in and it’s the quickest way for me to fulfill that interest via social media.
What can I do with a Strava Club?
I’m going to talk through each of these below. First, here’s a brief summary – once you’ve set up a Strava Club, you can:
Get your Brand Kit uploaded! – You’ll need a logo and banner within certain pixels for best aesthetics.
Logo – 248x 248 (PNG or JPG)
Banner or Club Header – a minimum of 1200x 580 px, I found 1584 x 396 px was good
Profile Picture – 124 x 124 px (JPG and PNG)
Invite Athletes to join your club and engage with your community
You can invite them via Strava, send them an email link, or even post on your personal profile a link to your club and a CTA to join!
Share your latest content as a discussion – anything from blog articles, race information, strava challenge promotion (for your own club challenge or an official Strava sponsored challenge) – read more about that by clicking here.
Organize meet-ups and strava club events – you can schedule a day, time and place, and invite your Strava Club members to join. If you’re digital marketing savvy, you can promote this across your social platforms. Or, speak to me about this here.
Engage with your club leaderboard – that stats of your club members’ activities will be featured as a leaderboard.
Promote your Strava Club Challenge – I’m not referring to a Strava Sponsored Challenge here. I can show you how to create or leverage a Strava challenge for your club, promote your challenge and determine your winners.
Need my help building a club, learning how to create and promote Strava challenges for your club, or growing your brand presence on Strava in general? Get in touch.
Type in the location you’d like to begin your run from, in the search bar above the map.
Drag your cursor and click to draw your route, clicking to drop a point at your finishing destination. See my screenshot below for an example. I also clicked ‘show 3D terrain’ under map preferences. A new Strava Routes feature.
In the top right-hand corner, hit the bright orange ‘Save’ icon. A pop-up will appear, fill out the details and save them to your routes. See my screenshot.
It’ll then be available as an option for your Strava Club in-person/live event.
I wrote a whole article on Strava Challenges – click here to read it. I will walk you through how you can do each of the options above.
I have worked in Digital Growth Marketing for the past 5 years and am an elite distance runner and outdoor athlete. Let me know if I can help you establish a presence on Strava, or start optimizing your club for brand reach and engagement.
This is the first in a series of posts about Athlete Climate Sustainability. Updated July 2022.
(*Actionpoints are places where I’ve identified calls to action you can do)
Almost all photos are my own, taken with various iPhone cameras, except those taken in Moab.
Tyrolean Alps, Near St Anton am Arlberg, Austria. Taking a break for lunch on a beautiful day.
Athlete Climate Sustainability
Do you know what athletes and the outdoor industry are good at? Solving problems.
Well, we’ve got one of the biggest problems of all to solve right now.
How often do you check the weather? I personally check the weather around 2-3x a day, centered around what training I need to do in the morning and evening, and if I need to get outside work done. Here’s where athlete climate sustainability comes into play.
We need healthy environments to be able to enjoy the outdoors.
We also need educated athletes and the public to be able to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.
Skied up to watch the sunrise over the Kosciuszko Range, NSW, Australia.
Weather patterns are becoming more extreme and/or more confusing in patterns which will no doubt impact when and how you can train, compete and potentially perform your job and outside work (such as gardening, projects, etc.)
“Engage with other people who care…you’ll feel less alone”
– Clare Gallagher (Elite US Trail Runner and Major Climate Advocate)
If you love to be outdoors and be active in nature like myself, it is our responsibility to be aware of how climate change is impacting our training playground and competition localities. Your favourite places to run, ski, surf, bike… We are a part of the environment, not separate from it. We have to start aligning our ways of thinking in that direction. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said to people I’m living or traveling with – “I’m going for a run, I need some time to be alone outside.” I laugh at myself because you are less alone running in the mountains than you are inside a home!
This is why I decided to release a series of researched athlete climate sustainability blog posts to not only help myself become further informed, use my digital space voice I am lucky enough to have, educate other athletes, and play my part in the education piece of sustainable climate practices.
Beautiful Killcare beach, around sunset, NSW, Australia
Climate change affects EVERYONE. Anthropogenic climate change is the number one issue. Anthropogenic means human-caused. It’s not a matter of ‘leaving it up to those in charge’, ‘society labeled or Instagram eco warriors’ or ‘those with an interest in climate change’. Much like the proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. It takes all of us to raise issues of concern and act accordingly.
In the case of climate denialism, one of the primary reasons it exists is because if an individual or group holds a certain belief and they search the internet enough, they will always find content to support the argument whatever that may be. Hopefully, all the fantastic and accurate content available in such a diversity of forms helps some of those individuals who are uncertain shift towards a climate-aware mindset.
Action: It is crucial to learn about athlete climate sustainability as sportspeople, and act accordingly. Whatever area you have the privilege to hold a strong voice in – the workplace, home, school, university, a sporting club, a race organizer, it’s time to use it!
In saying this, this is a massive topic, it would take me years to talk about everything I want to, and I still would want to experience, watch, read, follow and hear more! It can become quite overwhelming. In this post, I’ll focus on how athletes can play a role in climate advocacy and conservation efforts. Essentially, how to be an eco-athlete (I do believe this term shouldn’t exist in the future – we should all be eco athletes in my opinion).
Athletes, sport, and sustainability are becoming a bigger conversation in the sporting world. You’ll notice many athletes are speaking up on social media, sponsors are beginning to voice their opinions, race directors are ensuring their events are ecologically sustainable (that means, no plastic cups, refillable bottles, and packs, ensuring athletes, crew, and aid stations are as minimally invasive to the surroundings as possible etc.) I don’t know about you, but I can’t just train, run for fun, and race. I know I have to make an impact because I care too much, and I believe it is the responsibility of everyone. Not everyone will agree with your decision to speak out, but a majority will.
Just like everything else is an ‘ecosystem’ in essence, the forward path of improvement needs to also be an ecosystem – multiple parts, en masse, working for common goals. If you’re like me, I wanted to know how I could further play a role other than smaller impact activities like cleaning up my local area (which, I’ll continue to do, alongside other things!).
According to Project Drawdown and Trail Runner Magazine (Sourced from Spring 2020 Issue), the best 4 actions an individual can take are:
Avoid air-based travel
Have fewer children
Eat a plant-based diet
Mt. Gower Summit Trail, looking over at Mt. Lidgebird. Lord Howe Island, NSW, Australia
However, it isn’t about prescribing a list of things you ‘need’ to do. It is about doing what you can do, which could mean minimizing the meat you eat, reducing flight and car travel. I am by no means perfect, I travel by air a lot. If you’re like me, make sure you offset your carbon emissions when travelling. Further on in this post I’ll discuss very simple and more complex ways to implement more sustainable practices into your athletic life, and become well versed in Athlete Climate Sustainability.
Remember, to have the ability to train, safe spaces to train, the resources to train and fuel to train is a massive privilege not to be taken for granted. Have a listen to a discussion about this with Caroline Gleich here on Spotify.
So, what actually makes a long-term climate change difference?
Running around Seefeld, Mosern – Austria.
All talk and no action is way too common nowadays. Tom Carroll, Economist and microeconomic excerpt around climate believe that whilst activities such as beach clean-ups and plogga make a small difference, in the grand scheme of things the long-term impact of recruiting those with powerful voices in an array of industries to speak up will have a far larger impact. We can’t leave it up to climate activism industries or large sporting corporations to do all the talking and take all the action.
For example, the head of a multinational finance company begins speaking about climate change in relation to how it will impact their industry specifically.
Action: Instead of the individual and their team simply speaking about it, they engage a CTA (Call-to-action) and start doing. What could doing look like?
Establishing sustainable workplace climate practices and ensuring it is upheld. For example, single-use plastic reduction, recycling, glass and general waste (compost too!)
Incentivize employees to commute to and from the workplace in a more sustainable manner
Where zoom meetings are possible, encourage this to reduce client travel
In newsletter drops, sharing client and staff stories of how they made a short or long term impact, or somewhere outdoors they value and why. This is a bit like storytelling marketing – put a story to the issue, and people are a lot more likely to engage with the content.
Pick an area of impact within the greater climate change issue, and commit to events to fundraise for that area that incorporate employees. It can double as office events and bonding.
Start by identifying what you are most passionate about in the area of sustainable sport.
Falls Creek Altitude Training Camp, 2017.
I know when researching, writing, and collaborating on this content it was easy to become overwhelmed by the enormity of routes I could take in discussing athlete climate sustainability and sustainability in sport in general.
But how do I identify what this is for me?
Action: If you’re a runner or an athlete that competes in a multitude of different environments, I’d suggest figuring out how either your local playground (by playground, I mean outdoor adventure area!) or favourite place to travel for sport or competition is being impacted and start there. It will take some research, but the resources are definitely out there. I listed some at the bottom of this article that may help get you started!
If you’re a swimmer, for example, you likely already hold a passion for movement in the water, so you could begin there! Same for skiing (nordic, alpine, skimo, etc.) – how is your favourite mountain being directly impacted? What resources and groups already exist that you could explore?
Training Partner Extraordinaire Madi and I on a run in the Karwendel Alps, Austria.
There’s a major issue with running shoes and footwear waste in general. If you’ve watched the Salomon Sustainable series – Solving the sample challenge (available here on Youtube) you’ll observe how there is a massive issue with sample shoe production. Salomon has actively reduced their production of sample shoes by switching to 3D digital concept technology and sending 3D samples to reduce CO2 consumption.
New to the scene, NNormal, has the key goal as an outdoor + adventure brand to reduce environmental impact. The mission of NNormal is, ‘ To Inspire people to enjoy and respect nature‘, and won’t be another company that is ‘all talk, no action.’ They will be transparent about their footprint when it comes to the production and consumption cycle of their products. They also value a high sustainable standard for their products – they won’t compromise cost of production for a high environmental impact. You can join their growing community by clicking here to learn about work, trial, and community opportunities.
On Running’s Cyclon shoe – the first circular pair of running shoes which run on a subscription is also groundbreaking. This way, On Running states they do not generate waste, they recycle the shoe. It is made entirely of Castor Beans – from a tree, harvested and processed into a plastic sustainably!
Shipping shoes utilizing non-plastic materials is also ideal, including recycled shoe boxes, which many outdoor industry leaders are doing.
However, we as consumers also need to consider how to reduce our own shoe waste.
Find another use for them. A few of my funky racing flats make for great sneakers. I still wear them to walk in, and do outdoor chores.
Enquire at your local running store, more often than not they will have either a donation bin or shoe drive.
Reduce Single-Use Plastics
I was stand-up paddle boarding in Hardy’s Bay around sunset, on the central coast of New South Wales, Australia. I was very lucky to see a turtle on this particular outing. On my paddle back to the dock, I noticed a plastic bottle bobbing around in the sea foam. Having just encountered a turtle a little further out in the bay, I immediately was saddened by the common reality of litter floating around in water bodies, or entering the waterways.
It’s our responsibility to lead by example, here are a few:
Enquire at your local food joints about single-use plastics, if they haven’t jumped on board a sustainable path yet.
Fabric wrap your gifts.
Invest in sustainable fashion and gear, not fast fashion – look for bamboo and cork in gear.
This is a great video from Patagonia regarding waste and human consumption in relativity to clothing. Click here to watch it.
Without the ocean, we would not be here. Unfortunately, microplastics, dumping, oil rigs and drilling, and overfishing to name a few, are leaders in adversely impacting the environment. Increased atmospheric CO2 levels also have an impact, leading to increased acidity, warmer oceans, increased ocean temps, and the decay of shell-based organisms.
What can you do? The suggestions in this post that guide you in reducing your carbon footprint, reducing single-use plastics, and being mindful of where you pour liquid wastes (for example, if you wash your car) are all good starts. Take 3 for the sea is also a very good micro-initiative. If you’re around a body of water, take 3 pieces of trash with you and dispose of it properly.
Travel for Competition and Training
When traveling for competition and training, travel responsibly. This means:
Travelling in groups (where possible) to reduce transportation means
Offsetting flight emissions
Holding virtual meetings where possible to reduce travel
Competing in and supporting local events
Mend gear, instead of buying or requesting new gear for travel. You don’t need a new jacket if it can be mended.
Event organizers and sponsors should make every effort to be free of plastic cups and dispose of all wrappers (gels!!) responsibly. Entrants should be encouraged to carry refillable water packs/handhelds etc. in endurance events.
Sourcing race fuel from local businesses is also a great idea. Prizes from local companies are also forward-thinking sustainable decisions.
Races with a high budget should avoid using helicopters where possible, particularly for the purpose of content creation. Drones are way better anyway!
For athletes, remember:
If you pack it in, pack it out
Make sure you do your business far away from any water source
Stick to the marked course.
Water and packs (tips and tricks)
Don’t drink straight from the stream (in most cases), iodine is the lightest water purifier for water, then something like SteriPEN and a portable filter is next.
Always go for a running water source, and upstream is best.
Eating Sustainably for Athletes
Anna’s Vegie Dahl Recipe – Thank you Anna!
I understand it is not easy for everyone to go entirely plant-based. The UN Climate Report of 2019 called for people to eat less meat. As an athlete, it is possible to fuel yourself and do this. Try having meat-free days, and experiment with other forms of protein for cooking. This could look like, and by no means limited to:
Tofu – you can get silken, moderately silken, firm, or extra firm (all have different purposes!)
Tempeh – Try pressing them in a sandwich press after marinating in brown rice syrup and soy sauce, great in stir frys and buddha bowls of sorts.
Eggs from cage-free, free-range sources (or if you’ve got enough land and time, invest in some chickens!)
Anna suggests that you could try replacing beef with kangaroo meat, as this is much more sustainable and ecologically friendly. Kangaroo meat is more ‘chewy’, high in iron, and lean. We suggest cooking it in a curry or fragrant dish. Try this Kangaroo Coconut Curry.
Local Cave Running Adventures
Awesome Endurance athlete Sebastian Salsbury (@sebrunsfar) recently posted on Instagram about creating a blanket from race old t-shirts. Creative ideas like this are a great alternative to donating to charity, which often is inundated with old t-shirts anyway.
Fixing old gear might take a bit of time, but it’s cheaper and much better for the environment.
Plogging is the act of jogging or hiking (or any movement in general) and collecting trash/rubbish. The word plogging was created by combining ‘jogging’ with ‘plocka up’, a Swedish term for ‘picking up’. Struggling to get out to train? Incorporate plogga for a bit of fun.
Vote to elect those who are willing to speak
We need collective and individual action to vote ourselves, and educate others on how crucial it is to vote for those who will speak in the places where legislation is made.
Use your voice and create content.
Social media and increasing access to digital platforms has allowed for more people to promote their values on the internet. Whilst this can be a negative thing in some cases, such as the spread of misinformation, when it comes to climate action it’s time to speak up. Creating shareable content such as Instagram reels around athlete climate sustainability is a fantastic idea.
Sponsored athletes who may have content support and extra leverage should use these resources to advocate. It is so important to utilize your influence and voice to make an impact. Athletes more often than not are a well-respected voice in society, who people are willing to listen to. We need to set ambitious goals and be bold.
Big changes come from above. I am reading a great book called ‘Culture Code’ which stresses this. Amazing athlete Emilie Fosberg has also emphasized this point. Learn and seek education.
Yosemite Valley, Yosemite NP
What parts are you most interested in? Learn more about those. Ultimately, sustainable athletes have sustainable skills for any scenario. Refreshing your skills is also important – just like when learning to climb, or in the backcountry.
Why are sports so critical for sustainability?
Millions of people have an interest in sports and sports-people. I could prove this by showing the target market range on the backend of facebook ad manager when designing video advertising campaigns. Sports are an amazing platform to voice facts, tell sport specific stories related to climate, and conversations centralized around climate change. Rather than create new platforms, a more efficient way of communication is using those that already exist.
Sport can promote grassroots actions, such as those in the sports team, outdoor company or individual’s local community
Since outdoor sports people are the ones relying on the environment to play or do the activity, it is important that these environments still exist in the future to continue these activities. Hence the crucial importance of sustainable athletes and sustainable sporting actions.
How has climate affected athletes?
Tyrolean Alps, Austria (An all-time favourite of mine)
Increased extreme weather
From lengthy periods of time in extremely unhealthy AQI levels due to mass wildfires and bushfires, rainouts, heat as discussed above and increasing severity of storms – the changing weather patterns will have a significant impact on the ability to train and compete in sports. According to a NASA study, around 75% of the Swiss alps glaciers will have melted by 2050. The Norwegian National Nordic team trained in Italy this year as there was less snow in Norway than usual. Snowfall levels are dropping, and rising temperatures in normally arctic environments are causing massive changes in ecological systems (and most definitely all these changes aren’t visible to the human eye). New species actually get created in snow algae as the temperature warms.
Rising Temperatures: Heat and Athlete Health
Lucky Peak State Park, Idaho. Thick smoke in September from the wildfires.
During my middle school years, I fondly remember some touch football games where we were expected to play in 40 degrees celsius, or 104 Fahrenheit. That’s around 1 hour of running and sprinting in blazing heat. I believe the rules around play and heat are stricter now, but at the time it was pretty unsafe. The only way we made it through was with constant substitutions, ice, and shaded cool off sports. Unfortunately days reaching these temperatures are becoming more frequent as time passes which puts many sports at risk.
Further, many events may have to be cancelled in the future, such as ultra marathons in extreme climates due to the participant and event organizing team health risks being too high.
A series of two papers on heat and health were released by the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington (Lancet 2021; 398: 698–708). The first paper identified the health risks of hotter weather and heat extremes.
The paper discussed the concerning increase in deaths and illness as a result of extreme temperatures. To quote the paper, “Robust evidence of the relationships between hot weather and morbidity and mortality is being augmented with growing evidence of other effects, including on occupational works, and professional and recreational athletes.” (704-405).
The thing is, we don’t even understand the full-scope of risk yet. The paper brings attention to the fact that heat-related health issues and deaths from the “first two decades of the 21st century will be poor predictors of risks over the coming decades.” (698) All the more reason to mitigate the risks now.
Running Mt. Superior with Alyssa, Northern Utah
The key takeaway from the first of this two paper series was:
“without urgent investments in research and risk management actions, climate change will continue to increase heat-related hazards, and associated morbidity and mortality.”
We will have to hold events and training in different areas as we shift into warmer climates and more extreme weather patterns. This will impact sports (but not limited to) such as running, skiing, hiking and open water swimming.
A prime example I can think of is ultramarathons conducted in desert environments. In Australia with rising temperatures, it could become almost impossible to run these types of events.
Externally to sport, the amount of people including indigenous communities being displaced is a massive issue. Climate refugees are being forced to evacuate their homes because of these environmental shifts which make the land uninhabitable. I recently watched a documentary on this topic for the native people of Kazakhstan who rely on horses and livestock to live.
How do sports affect the environment?
Nordic Skiing in Silverstar, Canada
Sports affect the environment considerably, as we move in nature every day. It is crucial that we conduct our sports and events sustainably to ensure that the very environments we train and race in still exist in the future.
Whilst we may be more environmentally aware as outdoor sports people, the sports we play and do have more adverse impacts on the environment than most other sports.
Issues such as microplastic shedding from clothes and gear is prominent, highlighted via testing of grasses and forms of moss in the mountains and trails – you could plot a map of high human traffic, even if we believe we are not leaving a trace. A few awesome climate-conscious companies are working on creating clothes and gear that do not shed in the wash and prevent this microplastic shedding. Make sure you read the label of the gear you buy, buy for durability and lifelong use (no fast fashion!), and from climate-conscious companies.
Race organizers, spectators and competitors also have a duty to the environment. Carbon Neutral events are a must goal for the future. A wonderful research article published by Pamela Wicker from Australia and New Zealand highlights how “participants in nature sports had the highest (CO2 equivalent) emission levels.” However, Wicker highlighted how environmental consciousness does reduce these levels on the larger scale. This is where smaller habits, education and speaking out are key.
Educate and involve yourself as an athlete with these resources:
Utilize your digital platforms to speak up, and lead by example. Make the changes in your life, in your industry’s field, and ask others to follow suit. It is imperative that we all get involved in some way or another. This guide can help you find local groups and companies who are taking actions towards the global climate crisis. I hope you find it helpful.
Blue Pools, Idaho. Around half an hour later, we had hiked down into the canyon.
A summary of sustainable and climate conscious habits you can action now (*Action):
Click here to visit Reach Not Preach, a forum of youth voices for climate including youth voice for climate.
Stay educated in areas which spark your interest. The climate crisis can feel overwhelming, so it can be a better idea to focus on areas you are particularly passionate about.
Stay in touch about the next #thehumanrace which directly involves athletes and your training!
Carry around a reusable bag (in your car, in your bike bag, folded in your handbag) so you can avoid using a plastic bag if the opportunity presents.
Forfeit a few coffees a month and donate $10-20 to an organization of your choice. Most of us can do this. I do this.
Carry a refillable water bottle, preferably made from more ecologically-sound materials.
Buy clothing that is durable and long lasting, and repair it when possible. Better to buy expensive and quality once, than less quality twice!
Implement meat-free days in your diet, or regular meals.
Get a compost bin, and ensure you recycle – even better, recycle each component.In Switzerland I remember me and my cousin would walk to the recycling depot and separate each component, it was fantastic. In Australia, I use a Bokashi Bin for compost. This is even possible if you live in higher density living areas.
Walk and Bike more, use a car less. Even public transport is a better option.
Carbon offset your travel – most airlines will offer you this.
Look for tags when shopping that indicate the company you are purchasing from is conscious of sustainable practice and is making an effort to make their apparel and gear more climate friendly.
Race in events that are sustainable, and if they aren’t, write to the race organization team asking for alternatives to plastic cups, wrappers and other non-sustainable activities.
Start speaking up on your social media. Now’s the time to use your voice for something bigger than your own personal achievements in sport.
If you’re a sponsored athlete, have open discussions with your sponsor about their sustainability practices, how you can best use your voice to raise concerns and bring attention to climate action events. Also make sure you’re aware of your sponsor’s climate policies and/or sustainability pledge.
The Athlete Climate Academy was established by renowned adventure athletes Kilian Jornet and Huw James. They speak about various topics weekly, and hold live seminars each month online which all are welcome to participate in! The Athlete Climate Academy Session 3 is on September 24th 2021. This is a sensible time for my European and US Friends. For my Aussie friends, this is 3am, and my US Friends, I believe a lot of Australians will still be in lockdown, so if ever there’s been a time to stay up for something, I highly recommend this.
Otherwise, give the podcast a listen – it is one of the easiest ways to learn more in any sub-topic.
The Athlete Climate Academy Podcast is great. If you’re a spotify user you can listen to an episode (or 3!) by clicking here. If you’re an apple podcast kinda person, click here.
An amazing podcast about all things outdoors, including important discussions around sustainable practice when getting out and amongst it. Click here to listen on apple podcasts.
A Few Ideas for Local Involvement and Action
Runners 4 public lands (USA)
Runners for public lands recognize that climate change is the most important issue at present. RPL helps connect the running community to resources that help mitigate climate change and reduce its impacts. RPL advocates across a variety of sectors, including Climate Action, Environmental Sustainability, Equitable Access and Public Lands.
Become a member and get exclusive access to RPL events and store discounts. Click here.
Bushcare, Landcare and Coastcare (Australia)
Bushcare, Landcare and Coastcare groups exist in abundance across Australia. In my suburb where I grew up in Sydney there is a different group for almost every nature reserve. I volunteered for Bushcare throughout most of my middle and high school career. It is only a few hours each week, or every odd week depending on the group you choose. These groups help to maintain or rehabilitate areas that are degraded. You can even hop around groups – super convenient! Click here to learn more.
Ironically, outdoor sports people have a greater connection to nature than most other sports, however, we leave a bigger carbon footprint. Therefore, it is crucial we are educated about how exactly we impact the climate, and mitigate our impacts as much as possible, especially when we are outside doing what we love.
This is an excellent website, with Calls to Action for the athlete. I sourced this from Outdoor Friendly Pledge website:
Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge
This is a personal favourite project to follow – uniting major brands and outdoor focused entities for inclusion and diversity. It is important that all have a voice in matters concerning the environment. If we don’t promote diversity and inclusion, then we will never have the strength in voices and action we need. Click here to learn more.
Join THE COOL DOWN
This is a movement for athletes, centered around making significant change in the world and addressing the climate crisis as a team. Sign up here.
Don’t own an electric car, but want to offset your emissions? Go Neutral!
By purchasing a Go Neutral Vinyl Sticker for your car, you’re purchasing 3.2 tonnes of carbon offsets. Click here to learn more.
Learn about the projects at The Kilian Jornet Foundation
Amazing and respected athlete Kilian Jornet has established and dedicated his time to an array of projects to lay the foundations of a better sustainable future. The foundation is directly affiliated with some of the projects I’ve discussed above, however here is the link to learn more about other projects, including the retreat of glaciers and educational resources: Click here.
Stay aware and up-to-date on Instagram with Climate focused accounts and organizations
(non-exhaustive, just touching on it here!)
Mountain and land related:
@anturuseducation (Athlete Climate Academy)
@summit.ngo ( Swiss, lower human impact on the environment)
@plogga (Swedish! – run with a purpose!)
@beachcleanups (Australia and Japan)
@Waveslobitos (act local, surf global – sustainable surf travel)
An E-book guide for athletes will be released super soon. Stay tuned.
– There is no planet B –
A big thank you to the amazing Land Care Environmentalist and Lord Howe Island local Anna Charlton-Shick, who provided insightful points surrounding eating sustainably, reducing single-use plastics, and ocean awareness. Anna can be found on Instagram here: @annacharltonshick