24 Ways to Become a Healthier, Happier Runner

Run From Home (or Work)

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Instead of wasting time and gas driving to local trails and routes, try logging more miles from your doorstep. Visit mapmy run.com and plot out routes around your house or office. The savings are nothing to sneeze at: If you're driving 15 miles per week to run, you could bank $80 or more over the course of a year — and reduce emissions that impact our climate.

Buy in Bulk

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Staples such as rice, couscous, beans, nuts, flour, and oatmeal tend to be cheaper when bought in bulk rather than in smaller boxes or bags. Plus, you save on all that packaging — not to mention time and fuel spent slogging to the store.

Schedule Running Dates

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Pick a night to meet friends for an after work group run. You'll get more out of your limited time by combining exercise and socializing. Plus, skipping happy hour saves you cash and calories.

Rotate Your Kicks

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Extend the life of your running shoes and prevent injury by rotating through two pairs at once. A day off gives the flexible EVA foam time to decompress, says Martyn Shorten, Ph.D., director of the Runner's World Shoe Lab. Plus, the variation in your body's mechanics in response to the pairs can help you avoid a repetitive-use injury, says Finn B. Gerstell, M.P.T., a physical therapist specializing in sports medicine. Be sure to check out the lab's 2009 Winter Shoe Guide.

Sign Up Early for Races

YOU CAN... SAVE MONEY, SAVE TIME, SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT
Save cash by taking advantage of early-bird registration discounts, which average at least $10 per race. Some events, such as the Crim Festival of Races in Flint, Michigan, even promise free registration with early signup, while others provide free shirts and other schwag. Plan ahead by plugging registration dates into Outlook or a similar online calendar, and program it to send you reminders before the fees bump up. Bonus: Registering online also reduces paper waste and the time you spend in line on race day.

Set Aside Fancy Gadgets

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Running gizmos are great. There's also something to be said for ditching the bells and whistles occasionally and tuning into yourself. "I listen to my body, rather than using formulas, timing, or a heart-rate monitor," says Cate Fenster, who won the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon (her first 26.2) in 2:48. "When I don't feel good, I respect that and just run slow."

Run Around Interruptions

YOU CAN... SAVE TIME, SAVE A HEADACHE
Often too busy to squeeze in a decent workout? Work shorter sessions around your hectic schedule. A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition concluded that three 10-minute or two 15-minute aerobic sessions per day are as effective at raising VO2 max and trimming weight as one 30-minute effort. The key is to make those short workouts as intense as possible. Hit the stairs for a set of repeats, or do intervals on the treadmill while the pasta water is heating up, or run your errands!

Put a Lid on It

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Next time you boil water, cover the pot. A lidless container can consume up to three times more energy than a covered one. And make sure the pot covers the burner: A six-inch pot on an eight-inch burner wastes more than 40 percent of the heat. Match the two, and you could save about $36 annually for an electric range.

Time Your Sprees

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For the best deals on summer gear, shop in July and August. For winter duds, head out in January and February.

Run Your Errands — for Real...

YOU CAN... SAVE MONEY, SAVE A HEADACHE, SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT
Build your training base, reduce wear and tear on your car, and save a few bucks on gas all while knocking off your to-do list. Carry packages, food items, library books — even a laptop — inside a runner-specific hydration pack. Designed to hold more than just water, these packs are equipped with a hip belt and chest strap that keeps cargo from bouncing. Click here for a review of hydration systems.

...or Commute by Foot

YOU CAN... SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT
Whenever you can, run to work. The day before, bring in shower supplies and a change of clothes. If you can't shower, pack baby wipes and a no-rinse shampoo product. Use public transit to get home, or be a stud and pull a double that day.
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