What Climate Change and Running Have in Common

“Eleanor Roosevelt said, “A woman is like a teabag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” In this spirit, let us work together to ensure that the private sector champions human rights and helps open doors…”

Samantha Harris crafts the concluding sentences of the blog she plans to write later that day as her Pure Boosts pound the pavement of the New York City streets drenched in the light from street lamps and high rise windows. Nighttime is when the 35-year-old native Alaskan-turned-New Yorker runs – and, simultaneously devises speeches and blogs for her career working on United Nations climate change negotiations.

“Running helps me think and write because it’s so simple–it’s like your body’s concentrating on something else so your mind can focus,” says Samantha. “I can always count on being able to go for a run to ease my mind.”


What Climate Change and Running Have in Common

Samantha has always had a love for the environment and credits some of that to her Alaskan roots – and her dad. “I grew up hiking and fishing with my parents. My dad is a super outdoors-y, mountain man conservationist guy,” she says. She also witnessed some of the effects of climate change first hand. “I saw some of my favorite glaciers disappear,” she says.

So, she headed to Boston where she majored in International Relations and Human Rights at Boston University and followed that up with a joint degree from Tufts University. Since then, she’s held a few different jobs but they all revolve around a common – very important – theme.

“All of the work I’ve done on climate change has been primarily through a climate justice and human rights lens, especially one that brings together women’s rights and empowerment with climate change.”

Find out more about this crucial issue in Samantha’s blog here.


What Climate Change and Running Have in Common

Samantha’s typical morning starts with a steaming cup of green tea – no coffee – and lots of emails. “It’s a constant effort to try to keep up on emails throughout the day and then emails that have come in from our Asia offices overnight,” she says. Then, she’s off to meetings with United Nations staff, climate experts, and the like. In between, she writes and does a lot of research and strategy to “think of new innovative ways to get companies to work on climate change.”

Consider the fact that she’s also on the road – and in the skies – quite a bit, and it’s pretty inspiring that she still manages to find time to run. But really, perhaps the running is part of what enables her to be successful in her travels and in her career. For one, it gives her some semblance of routine and sense of normalcy – even when her sleep schedule gets thrown off and she’s eating out constantly.

“Running helps me maintain a work-life balance, including bringing me a bit of calm in a physically and mentally demanding job that can also be a bit of a downer sometimes – I mean, climate change, come on!” she says. “It’s something I can take everywhere I go with me, it’s low cost, doesn’t create a lot of carbon emissions, and It also helps fight jet-lag.”


What Climate Change and Running Have in Common

“I always prefer to get outside to run, no matter the temperature,” says Samantha citing her Alaskan blood once again. “I find the fresh air generally resets me, especially when running.”

She aims to fit in three to four five- to 10-mile runs a week in addition to some yoga (either on her own with podcasts if she’s traveling, or at her favorite studio in New York City, Yoga to the People) and 20- to 30-minute HIIT workouts (incorporating moves like star jumps, planks, and burpees).

While running on a hotel gym treadmill or exploring a new city in her sneakers is commonplace for Samantha, she also takes it one step further by signing up for races based on her work travel schedule. “I’ve done some 5Ks and 10ks in several places like Germany, Boston, and San Francisco,” she says. This year, she wants to run the Brooklyn Half marathon and a European marathon. She’s waiting to finalize her travel plans, but she’s eyeing the Denmark Marathon, Paris Marathon, or Copenhagen Marathon.

“Another passion of mine is hiking, globally, but as of late I’m pretty obsessed with the US national parks and I always try to get a couple of good trail runs in if I can,” she adds.


What Climate Change and Running Have in Common

Just get out there and run – no matter what.

Anything is better than nothing. Even when you’re tired, just do it, because it actually helps reset you and give you a boost of energy. It helps you sleep better. You’ll eat better just because you’ll mentally be on that track of staying in shape.

Do everything the best that you can.

I don’t mean to be cliché but basically, be a warrior in whatever you do–work or workout-wise.

Change it up.

Even if it’s a change of a street or two, the new scenery helps keeps things fresh. Also add things like yoga and other workouts, which bring both mental and physical balance.

Have your own personal mantra.

Mine is ‘Be a warrior.’ When I’m running and hit that wall–and just sit there and think ‘oh my God this is exhausting,’–if I can remember to be a warrior, it helps me. I also remind myself that there are people that are far worse off and I’m fighting to help them so just suck it up and be a warrior.

Use your community and your friends and your network.

Whether it’s joining a run group or getting that friend out of bed, it’ll motivate you to get something done. Depend on the people that you’re around every day.