Have you tried Plogging?!

Chief Correspondent

A different way of training, helping the environment and learning some Swedish along the way – that’s Plogging – and I’m going to be honest, I never knew it had its own name either!

What’s it all about? Regular contributor to the site, Coach Karen Parnell from ChiliTri (www.ChiliTri.com) explains…


Have you ever spotted rubbish on your run routes and thought how much it is ruining your local area not just aesthetically but environmentally?

The statistics about plastic pollution can certainly be overwhelming. Every year, we produce 300 million tons of plastic and around 8.8 million tons of it get dumped in the oceans, threatening countless animals, many of which are on the verge of extinction as a result. If that wasn’t bad enough, it’s now estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

You can do your bit to help by trying plogging once a week.

Plogging is a combination of jogging with picking up litter (merging the Swedish verbs plocka upp (pick up) and jogga (jog) gives the new Swedish verb plogga, from which the word plogging derives). It started as an organised activity in Sweden around 2016 and spread to other countries in 2018, following increased concern about plastic pollution.

As a workout, it provides variation in body movements by adding bending, squatting and stretching to the main action of running, hiking, or walking. Plogging is considered a perfect activity, as it is positive both for the body, and for the environment.  An estimated 2,000,000 people Plog daily in 100 countries and some plogging events have attracted over 3,000,000 participants.

Maybe this could be extended to carrying a small bag with you when you go cycling or when you are open water swimming and do the same? Clogging and Swogging maybe?! You could organise a group or do it solo, there are no rules just one common aim to do more to clear up waste products and re-cycle them.

So, if you are not trying to smash a new PB or on a recovery run with no pressure why not Plog once a week to make your local environment more pleasant, help the planet and also add variety to your weekly sessions?

Some UK Litter Statistics:

  • Litter costs almost £1 billion a year in clean up bills nationally
  • 30 million tonnes of litter are collected from our streets every year – enough to fill Wembley Stadiums four times
  • 99% of streets in town centres have cigarette litter
  • 62% of people in England drop litter – but only 28% will admit to it
  • Cigarette butts make up one-third of all litter in the UK and can be found on 99 per cent of town centre streets. Each cigarette butt contains lead, arsenic and thousands of other chemicals. They do not biodegrade, and young children and wildlife are particularly at risk from ingesting them.

On the 16th May this year Malaga organised a city-wide day of Plogging

Malaga Plogging

During the day, guided physical exercises for all ages and levels, and sports activities such as hiking, diving, running or cycling were combined with garbage collection, through inclusive and participatory methods accessible to all people.

Under the motto ‘Do sport for the planet’ there was different plogging activities along the Gualdamedina river, in the city of Malaga, with the purpose of promoting climate action, the care of the seas and oceans and the Sustainable cities and communities within the framework of Sustainable Development Goals 11, 13 and 14.

Heart-healthy lifestyle habits, caring for biodiversity and corporate volunteering, together with the elimination of single-use plastics and proper recycling, were the main themes that the ‘Nationale-Nederlanden Plogging Tour’ community promoted in the city of Malaga.

Karen Parnell is British Triathlon Federation (BTF) Level 3 High Performing Coach and Tutor, Nivel 3 Técnicos Federados FATRI España and an ASA Open Water Swimming Coach. She is also a qualified NASM Personal Trainer and IRONMAN® Certified Coach as well as being a Stryd running with power coach.

Karen is based near Malaga in Southern Spain where she runs ChiliTri coaching and camps.

ChiliTri / Karen Parnell
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