Becoming a Sustainable Runner: Embracing Joy, Imperfection, and Growth

In a world often marked by extreme measures and all-or-nothing thinking, Tina Muir and Zoë Rom are challenging the status quo, bringing a breath of fresh air to the running community and environmental enthusiasts alike. These two remarkable individuals, both deeply entrenched in the world of running and environmental advocacy, recently co-authored a book titled, “Becoming a Sustainable Runner: A Guide to Running for Life, Community, and Planet.” We sat down together to discuss their motivations, the essence of sustainability, and the art of finding joy and growth in our running journeys.

The Book Writing Process: Crossing the Finish Line

Tina Muir, founder and CEO of Running for Real, and Zoë Rom, editor-in-chief at Trail Runner magazine, embarked on a multi-year journey to pen their collaborative masterpiece. Much like the exhilaration and exhaustion that follow a marathon, Tina and Zoë felt the post-book publication blues as they crossed the finish line of this monumental project.

Writing a book is a labor of love, and their passion for running and the environment shines through every page of “Becoming a Sustainable Runner.” The motivation behind their collaboration was simple yet powerful: they wanted to create a resource that inspires every runner to better support their endurance journey, find joy in the process, and contribute positively to the running community and the planet.

Defining Sustainability: More Than Just the Environment

“Becoming a Sustainable Runner” goes beyond traditional definitions of sustainability. It encompasses not only environmental conservation but also athletic longevity, community building, behavior change, and an overall approach to life. The authors emphasize the importance of developing a lifelong, healthy relationship with running and our bodies. To amplify your running experience, they encourage connecting with your running community and giving back through volunteering and supporting fellow runners.

The book also provides accessible steps to be more environmentally friendly, with a crucial message: it’s okay to make mistakes. In a world that often expects perfection, Tina and Zoë advocate for self-compassion and grace. Embrace the understanding that nobody is flawless, and it’s the effort that counts. Whether you forget your reusable bags or cut a run short, treat yourself with kindness and remember that every step towards sustainability matters.

You Are Enough: Embracing Imperfection

Tina and Zoë emphasize that it’s essential to release the pressure valve and relinquish the urge for perfection, especially when juggling multiple roles and priorities. They titled their book “Becoming a Sustainable Runner” rather than “How to Be a Sustainable Runner” to highlight the ongoing, ever-evolving nature of sustainability. It’s a process with no finish line, no pass or fail, and no perfect way to be. Becoming a sustainable runner requires consistency, intention, self-compassion, and grace, every single day.

This philosophy extends to running itself. Not every run will go as planned, and no training plan will be executed flawlessly. Yet, you can still achieve your goals. The key is to accept that you are enough, just as you are, and to keep showing up and moving forward, even when things don’t go as expected.

The Importance of Play and Joyful Movement

Playfulness and joyful movement aren’t just for children; they’re essential for adults too. Tina and Zoë encourage everyone to tap into their playful inner selves, embrace fun, and stay curious, especially when running. Play has no objective; it’s about enjoying the moment and using it as a means of connection - to ourselves, our community, and our environment.

Running, they argue, should be a joyful experience. It’s not just about training, racing, or hitting personal bests. It’s about finding delight in every stride, exploring new trails, and fostering a sense of wonder. By infusing play and joy into our running, we not only enhance our experience but also deepen our connection to the world around us.

Growth Through Risk-Taking

Stepping into the unknown is inherently accompanied by fear. Whether you’re learning a new skill, attempting a different race distance, making a career move, or taking on any new challenge, fear is a natural response. Tina and Zoë encourage us to approach the unknown with a curious and playful mindset. Even if things don’t go as planned, there is always growth to be found in risk-taking.

In fact, they assert that you can have both: play and fun, and the courage to face the unknown. It’s about finding a balance that works for you and recognizing that growth often emerges from the discomfort of stepping outside your comfort zone.

Tina Muir and Zoë Rom’s book, “Becoming a Sustainable Runner,” is a testament to the power of embracing joy, imperfection, and growth in both our running journeys and our lives as a whole. Their wisdom and insights offer a refreshing perspective on sustainability—one that extends far beyond the environment and into the realms of our own well-being, our communities, and the joy of living in harmony with our passions. So, lace up your running shoes, release the pressure to be perfect, and step into the unknown with a playful heart. You are enough, just as you are, and your sustainable running journey is a process filled with endless opportunities for growth and joy.