If you’ve been with us at Running for Real for a while, you’ve had a chance to hear from Dean Karnazes already. He is a superstar of a runner, the “ULTRAmarathon Man,” and an incredibly upbeat person. Even if you happen to catch him in the middle of a 100-mile run, Dean will smile and take a selfie with you. He’s that kind of guy.
In coordination with a new Chicken Soup for the Soul book about running stories, and some exciting races that Dean plans to compete in soon, we got to speak with him again. Feel free to listen in or read along to find out more about Dean’s advice to help the environment, how we can encourage others to run, and more!
Runners Can Save the Planet
One thing you may not know about Dean is that he doesn’t own a car. Seriously. If you go to his home and see a car, it’s a visitor’s or a family member’s. This decision happened about a decade ago when Dean was training to run the Four Deserts Race, a 6-day race where you have to carry all your supplies with you.
To train for the race, Dean started doing his grocery trips on his feet. This meant carrying home gallons of milk, and one time, a pack with over 45lbs of sundries. A few trips became a habit, and before long, Dean had given up his sponsorship with Volkswagen in favor of being carless.
Dean is known for his extremes. Running 50 marathons in 50 days, giving up his car, running in hot deserts and cold tundra; these things are commonplace for Dean. But when he was asked what runners can do to better the environment, he simply replied, “Recruit more runners!”
One of the fastest ways to become more sensitive to our surroundings, is to be in them. Nothing compels you to change your emission-producing habits more than breathing in a lungful of polluted air. And while the negatives of littering or pollution are convincing, the positives of being outdoors are equally moving. Running through fields, over mountains, or along beaches will have you caring for the earth instantly.
Runners Can Save Lives
Encouraging people to run can save more than the planet, it can save people. Dean shared with us one of his favorite stories from the new Chicken Soup for the Soul book that he helped author and compile about a former marine with PTSD.
After trying a variety of treatments including therapy sessions and medication, a friend suggested that this former marine pick up running. He decided to give it a go and soon found himself running marathons and ultramarathons. Running saved his life.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running for Good, includes 101 stories about running and the good it has done around the world. From communities of mothers in the U.S. to camps of Syrian refuges in Greece, we can all benefit from running.
Runners Are People Too
Maybe an even more surprising thing about Dean is that he still gets nervous on the start line. He still has tough days, tiring days, days he decides to sleep in instead of getting up to run. And while he has been able to make a career out of running, a dream job in his eyes, he still has to push himself to get out the door sometimes.
But that’s what’s great about this sport. We have the chance to be runners and to be human. Whether we run a marathon a day or go for a walk around the mall once a week, we are still part of this community and we still have struggles. We are in it together.
You Can Make a Difference Right Now
Decide to be an ambassador for running. It’s a simple and effective way to help the environment. You can invite friends for a run, share your experiences of training for a race, or buy someone a pair of running shoes for their birthday. Every bit helps, and your efforts to share your love of running can spread throughout the world.
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