Workout On A Budget: Running

As a college student, I know the pain of being stereotypically poor and having one too many nights of cider and pizza. I’m not a member of a gym and I own nothing more expensive than a pair of dumbbells and a yoga mat, but I believe that anyone can workout, get fit and enjoy themselves without breaking the bank.

Running is one of the cheapest ways on the planet to get fit. All you really need is a pair of running shoes (or tackies as we say in my part of Ireland) and the ability to unlock your front door. Sure, you could get into the debate about wicking clothes, running tights, CamelBacks, Garmins and treadmills – but at the end of the day, it is your own two legs that count.

Over the years, I have built up some running swag (although don’t let a lack of these hold you back!) I have 3 good sports bras – an absolute essential for someone of my…build…lest I want two black eyes. My favourite shoes are my Aasics – I tried a few other brands before hand but these fit my half sized feet great. Throw in a few pairs of nice shorts and a running skirt (for good measure) and I’m good to go.

About a year ago, I also invested in a Garmin Forerunner 305 – I previously had a micoach pacer which found its way out of my pocket on a long run one summer’s day, never to be found again. I love the Garmin for keeping an eye on my pace and for accurate mileage (there are also more features for speed training that I never really use, and it can also be used as a pacer for cycling) but I have no love for the Garmin’s high price. Luckily, a good hunt on eBay and an acceptance of a slightly older model (I think Garmin are up to 605 at this point) made me one happy camper. If you are just starting out and don’t want to commit to this investment, but like me, are really into tracking numbers, a stopwatch (or the stopwatch on your phone or iPod) can work really well.

If you are thinking of getting into running, I am going to lay one truth one you right now – running is hard. There is no two ways about it. But it gets easier, it gets enjoyable, it gets essential. And to start you off, I have some links to share.

Cool Running’s Couch to 5K program is pretty legendary around the blogosphere. If you have never run before (or are just a little rusty and need to build back up some stamina), have a free half hour three days a week and have the motivation to keep you going in the beginning, then this program is for you. It alternates walking and running and builds up to longer intervals of running so that you can run 5K (3.1 miles) by the end of 9 weeks. This is especially useful if you are running outside because a treadmill is far easier to run on, stamina-wise, so it gets you used to the roads from the get-go.

I follow Hal Higdon’s training plans, which are available for all common race lengths in Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced (he also has some walking plans in there if running is not your thing.) These plans are really nice because they are easy to make minor adjustments to to suit your own schedule and don’t overload on the mileage. I find some plans on the Internet really push for four and five days running which my body simply can’t handle. With Hal Higdon, plans can vary from 3 to 7 days a week so there is something to suit most people.

Runner’s World is gospel for all things running. Looking for articles on nutrition, training, recovery or motivation? RW has you covered.

I could wax lyrical for hours about my favourite sport but I think there is enough to muse on and share the love for now.

Sidenote: My planned 4 mile run turned into a 6.1 mile run today in UL. I don’t know if it was the sun, the housing estate-free environment, or all the extra sleep I had this weekend, but I was on fire. My love affair with running hasn’t had its day yet.

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