My Frugal Fitness Plan {7 components}

I’ve always admired people who do this…

I’m going to admit it right now.  I’ve never been a runner.  In fact, I am pretty sure I’ve never ran a mile non-stop before.  Ever.  Not even in junior high.  I’m not athletic, and I’m not built to be a runner.  In fact, I’m told I run funny.  People get the giggles watching me run!  I’m easy going enough, that I can laugh with them…  my lack of endurance has been a weakness.  But I also know that  with His help, I can make weak things become strong.

In recent years, I’ve been especially inspired by a few women I know, who started running when they were in their 30’s and 40’s.   It’s been awesome to watch them progress.   In fact, my sister Melanie, who was born with the same non-athletic genes as me, can now run as far as 6 miles (with out even stopping!!).  This amazes and inspires me!

So with 2012 here, and after spending so many years having babies, I decided that this was going to be the year of ME.

My plan:

  1. Start with a good pair of shoes:  I’ve never owned one.   It was recommended that I go to Shu’s Idaho Running Company in downtown Boise. The experts there check out my feet, my stance and fit me in a good pair of shoes.  They even let me go walk/run outside so I could decide if they felt good.  The shoes aren’t cheap.  But they feel good and fit me well.   They are worth it!  {My son, who is a runner, loves Asics shoes – what is your favorite?}
  2. Find a buddy:  This is huge for me.  Having someone set the same goals as me, not only motivates me, but makes it more fun… AND  having a buddy helps with accountability!   My “running buddy” (even though we don’t really run yet) is my sister Jennifer.  Luckily she lives 1/4 mile from me, so we just take turns walking to each others houses and then go do our “training” together.
  3. Make a plan:  Neither of us do well to start too late in the day.  So we finally decided to go at 7:00 in the morning.  Yes, it is cold and dark at 7am.  But we have these  headlamps we can wear if the street isn’t lit up well enough.  Sure it might look funny.  But now that I’m almost 37, I don’t care if people think I look like a dork anymore.  😀  Getting up at 6:15 every morning is new to me.  It’s changed my sleeping habits.  Gone are the late nights of doing blog work til 2 in the morning!  Also, starting early in the morning doesn’t give you a chance to make excuses or get busy with other stuff.  Wake up, get out of bed, go and get it over with! {Be sure to dress so cars can see you!}
  4. Sign up for an event:   Last fall, Jennifer’s friend (well, she’s my friend too) Pauline, challenged her to run the Great Potato in May.   Jennifer told me about it last month, and that was the final kick in the pants I needed.  I was tired of thinking “someday I’ll be able to run further than the length of my front door to my mailbox”.   Registering for this even commits us.  Even if we’re walking part of it, we’re still going to do it!  Find a run in your area.
  5. Set a training schedule:  There are several places online that will give you a 5k training plan (or 10k, half marathon, or even a full marathon).  We’re using this program (Couch Potato to 5K).
  6. Build some muscle:  Building muscle helps you burn calories faster.  The more muscle you have, the more cals you burn… even when you’re sitting!  You don’t need a gym membership or even weights to do this!  Here is my favorite new tool to help burn muscle (we plan on doing this 2-3 times per week).   It’s called Fit Deck.   Fit Deck is a stack of  cards (like playing cards) and on each card is an exercise.  There is a picture to show you what to do, as well as clear instructions on how to do it (see example to the right).   Each card has three fitness levels to accommodate different abilities (beginner, intermediate, advanced).  You’ll never have the same work out twice!  Shuffle the cards and commit to doing what ever the card tells you to do.  Finish that card and then do the next.   Either pick a # of cards to complete, or set a timer and see how many cards you can complete.  Fit Deck is a fabulous frugal alternative.
  7. Eat good:  I eat a carnation instant bfast before I leave the house, and when I get home, I have some Muscle Milk (for the protein) or I will throw some frozen fruit in the blender and my vanilla Muscle Milk and make a smoothie.   I know I can do better with my eating…  although I’m not perfect and as healthy as some, I am trying to be more conscious about what I consume AND I’m drinking more water that I used to.


  • I’m amazed at how quickly my body has adjusted from a 2am – 8am sleep schedule to a 10:30pm – 6:00 am schedule.
  • At bedtime I start to dread the morning, but after I’m done walking (with a little running), I feel good, happy, and accomplished!  It’s a great feeling!
  • It’s been around 20 degrees in the morning.  Thankfully there hasn’t been snow to worry about.  I wear 3 layers, gloves, hat, and a scarf.
  • People tell me I can be running 3 miles in just a few months.  That sounds incredible to me and I can’t wait to see it happen.
  • Read this blog called, Runs for Cookies.  This gal is an inspiration.  She lost 125 pounds in 16 months through diet and exercise.  It’s an inspiring story!

Photo from

I’m not a trained professional, I’m actually a novice, just sharing what is working for me (so far).   If you have tips/advice or any thoughts, I’d love to hear them!

Total cost of my frugal fitness plan: 

  • Shoes: $105ish (my biggest expense, maybe you already have a good pair?)
  • Layers: already had them (long sleeve tshirt, sweatshirt, coat…)
  • Head lamp:  my sister had them $8.14
  • Fit Deck Cards: my sisters $14.95 through Amazon
  • Muscle Milk: already had some, $19.05 through Amazon
  • Information:  FREE (see links above)




  • chrys

    Another thing that can inspire you about running is to read this book, Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. It’s the best book I’ve ever read and it inspired me to start running. I ran 2 half marathons last year and am now training for my first Marathon this summer. This book is a MUST READ! 🙂

  • tia

    cathy–I used to be a runner. Can’t do it like I used to with my knees now. Will have to make do with walking/jogging. Haven’t done anything for a couple years. Thank you for the motivation. I LOVE the opening quote! Will hang it where I can see it to make a difference. Good luck on your goal!

  • Erika Griffin

    Cathy – Good for you! I was in the same boat you are a couple of years ago. I admired runners and was even a little jealous of their passion, but I hadn’t run any real length of time since high school p.e. I started running in May 2010 when a friend needed a last minute sub for the Sawtooth Relay. What better way then to jump in with both feet? I’ve completed several 10K’s and a half marathon. Currently training for my second Great Potato 1/2. Shu’s is an awesome place to buy shoes. They know their stuff. I would specifically ask for Mike when you go in, if you haven’t already. I don’ t know if you do living social/groupon. But a couple of times now, Shu’s has put out a $30 for $60 worth of merchandise. It helps take the bite out of paying for a nice pair of running shoes. Shu’s also has some sort of frequent buyers program…maybe like your 6th pair is free. Don’t quote me on it, but it is something along those lines. Anyway, best of luck to you! Can’t wait to read about your progress!

  • Tarah

    I’ve started getting up at 5:30am to run, too, this year. I can’t believe the difference it makes to work out in the morning as opposed to evening! My get-out-of-bed strategy is to give my husband permission to kick me out of bed. It works!

    On another note, I have extra motivation. Our city’s ads are delivered free on Tuesdays. They each have a smartsource in them. If they aren’t off the driveways in my neighborhood by Friday morning, I take them while I’m on my jog. Mwahahahaha.

  • Mavis

    Oh Cathy… If you want to run a marathon with me I bet we can talk Amber and Jessica in to running it with us. I’ll make the costumes! 🙂

  • Natalie

    I love your site and love this particular post. One little piece of advice that has really helped me with endurance was given to me by my tiny little sister-in-law, who was told this tip by a trainer: Keep your heart rate at a lower level by starting off slow and maintaining a slower pace. You can track it with a heart monitor (115-140 range) or just find the slower pace that works for you. We all feel pretty good the first few minutes of running but if you start really slow, it seems to help with endurance. It is amazing how long I could run and not need to stop because of being out of breath. I’m sure I looked like a dork because it was at a snail’s pace, but like you said, why should we care.

  • MaMaLaLa

    I wasn’t a runner either, but 60 extra pounds later and a newborn baby really kicked my butt into gear. I hated having the extra weight around. So, I started running. Figured, heck…you don’t need anything to begin. Just commitment.

    I trained towards a goal of running Robbie Creek and made it! I was so proud of myself. It will be a memory forever in my mind when I reached the top of the hill and looked back. It was a long training process.

    I wish I would have kept my before and after pics. I love what running does to my body- it sculpts and makes it extra lean.

  • Janet

    Your awesome, I have wanted to do a 5k for the last few years, I envy my friends that do, I kept telling my self I just don’t have the time to loose the weight and run (not that you have to be thin to run) but last October I finally had enough of being over weight and decided I could spare 30 mins. to do Zumba and started it and love it, about a month ago I decided I was doing a 5k in June went to couchto5k and printed the training, I was a little worried about walking out my door and ran 1 mile, but my friend told me run for 2-3 minutes and walk 2-3 minutes you will build up endurance and start to get better and will be able to do it but will take some time, so this last week I have started to run and I feel so good about my self, in the last few months I have lost 20 lbs 🙂 but I am loving running it just will take some time to get to 3 miles but I will do it… so I saw this quote on pintrest and keep it where I can see it to remind me not to get lazy

    “what fits your busy schedule better- exercising one hour a day or being fat 24 hrs a day”
    fitfemmes tumblr So true!!!

  • Michelle

    I am so excited for you!! Last year I somehow convinced myself I could do a marathon. God put just the right people in my life to encourage me right when I needed it and on Dec 11th I did it along with my 13 year old daughter. The weird thing was the feeling of being prepared. I did with and organization called Team in Training and they did a great job making sure we were ready.

    One note to you on running. I don’t run much. I don’t really like it (or I didn’t ;)) and I wasn’t good at it. We did the entire marathon on a run 2 minutes walk 1 minute cycle. I would have loved to have done a 4/1 but I wasn’t there yet. Maybe on future races. I say this so that you and any one reading this will know that just because a race is 26.2 miles (or 13.1 mile, 10k, 5k) you do not have to run the whole time. That was what I thought you had to do at first and, looking back, no wonder it seemed impossible.

    Good luck! I hope you have so much fun you’ll do it again and again.


  • Cheryl_hiccups

    I love the idea of getting into better shape and challenging yourself with fitness goals. I have been at it since the very end of last June and I am down over 60 pounds. (Would that be a really early New Year’s resolution or really late? Judging by how much weight I had gained, that would be really late, lol.) For this year, I have started jogging. Before I was doing walking and Zumba for my cardio. I have never been able to jog anything more than about 3 minutes at a time before due to high arches and several other leg physiology issues… I have had foot surgery, gotten orthotics and really good running shoes and lost enough weight to try it without overtaxing my joints. So far this time around, it has only been need for oxygen that causes me to have to stop jogging which is a fabulous new development. I can condition myself past that with practice. I am up to nearly a mile before I have to switch back to walking. Ladies, I have never jogged a whole mile in my life. Not even in high school PE when there was a grade involved. I still have a nice chunk of weight to lose, but it’s just a matter of time now.

  • Meaghan

    You can do it! I’m a fairly new runner and Jeff Galloway’s training has helped and inspired me; interval running is amazing! I remember starting at walk 1 min, run 1 min, and now I’m up to walk 1, run 5. Enjoy yourself!!

  • Thanks so much 🙂 This is a GREAT post for anyone looking to get into running. And I’m going to buy the FitDeck cards right now–I was just telling my friend this morning that I really need to start doing some strength training before the marathon. Those cards look perfect for what I’m looking for.

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