The cost of an average gym subscription is rising, hitting £40+ per month – and for many, it’s becoming an unaffordable luxury. In fact, in early 2023, it was reported that over a third of Brits had ditched their gym membership, with a significant percentage citing concerns about the rising cost of living. Thankfully, running is still a low-cost fitness activity, with very little equipment required other than a decent pair of trainers.
Read on for our top tips for getting fit for free and maximising your running workout on a budget.
Download a free app
Whether you’re looking for motivation or training tips, there’s a free running app to suit you.
If you’re just starting out, why not try the NHS-endorsed Couch to 5k app? Or the Great Run 5k virtual challenge? With 6.5 million downloads, its success speaks for itself. Strava or Nike Run Club are good options if you’re a little further along on your running journey – while both offer lots of data, Nike Run Club has great free training plans and advice and Strava gives you the option to track bike rides and hikes as well as link up with other runners and groups.
Find a local running group
There’s strength in running in numbers – and motivation, too.
Many running clubs are free, or offer a ‘pay what you can’-type approach. Have a look on Google – or, if you’ve already gone ahead and downloaded Strava, you can search for clubs by location.
Even if a club does charge a membership fee, there’s often a free trial for you to work out whether it’s a good fit for you – and if you were to compare the costs of an annual gym subscription to a running club membership, we’re confident the running club would turn out to be significantly lower.
Get yourself to Parkrun
Parkrun describes itself as a free community event where anyone can run, jog or walk 5k. No one is under any pressure, and no one comes last.
With over 1200 sessions across the country, you’re likely to find one nearby, but be aware: that friendly Parkrun welcome and inclusive feel is addictive. Soon you’ll be comparing your week-by-week stats and aiming for a new PB. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
Plan your route
To keep your motivation levels high, why not research free facilities in your area – football pitches, outdoor gyms or even a wild swimming spot – and aim to finish your run and meet some friends there?
Not only will you be seeing some different sights on the way, you’ll be able to have a go at another complementary activity, maximising your workout and having some fun while you’re at it.
Exercise at home
No running plan would be complete without some strength training to keep you in peak performance and help you avoid injury.
Of course, you don’t need a gym membership for strength training – you can easily get started at home using your body weight for resistance. Here are five simple exercises to get you going; and beyond that, YouTube is packed with no-equipment strength workouts like this one that are great for any runner.
Put all that training to good use – sign up for a Great Run near you today.