The perks and problems of being a student runner

The perks and problems of being a student runner

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  October 28, 2016

Avid runner and university student Sarah Henderson has faced all sorts of difficulties trying to pursue her love for running whilst at university. Keen to share her experiences with the female running community and encourage other students that might be facing the same problems as student runners not to give up on their sport, Sarah got in touch with WR. Based on her own personal experiences, Sarah explains how the perks of being a student runner definitely outweigh the pitfalls.

‘Running? Why have you taken up running? You’re a student and there are so many other things you could be spending your time on.’ Such a response is surprisingly quite common when I have spoken to other students, friends and even family, upon discussing what I get involved in during my spare time at university. Quite frankly, I believe it is a response many student runners come up against. Even if you have a sporty background, running seems an odd choice of hobby. Despite the university sports scene and an association of youth with athletic fitness, running at university is seen as the sport which is somewhat niche. Plus in Scotland it’s way too cold to run outside, surely? Better to have a cup of tea (or a pint) than go running. Despite the problems that being a student runner can throw up, the perks of being a student runner are greater and prove richly rewarding time and again.

As many runners within running clubs understand, the running community is one of the joys of running. As a student, this sense of community is even greater. A student running club gives you so many opportunities to try different sorts of running and discover which kind you really enjoy. Trying different events inspires you to train harder than you ever would otherwise. Moreover the socialising with other student clubs at race events is a scene not to be missed. Social events (and chants) following races are a major talking point between fellow student runners!

That said, many of the students within the running club are scarily good, which can make you feel like you should do more and always be getting exponentially better. Discussing what pace to go for on an ‘easy run’ and being told by your fellow student that a ‘7 minute per mile pace’ should be casual enough, makes you feel somewhat unfit despite knowing otherwise! Unchecked this can make running a chore, with an increasingly likely chance of getting injured and frankly disappointment with your runs. I have to remind myself how far I have personally progressed, and not get tempted into doing more because other students are.

student cross country

It is tempting to do more, however, when the student club manages to get such discounted prices for races and events, and allows you to enter races such as BUCS (British Universities Cross Country Championships) which would not be possible as a non-student. Moreover, being a student results in discounted prices outside of the club, such as ten per cent student discounts at shops such as Run4. It certainly helps when on a tight student budget! Particularly when, after BUCS this year, many of my student friends realised that their spikes were unusable after the race, as the spikes had bent out of all recognition.

Admittedly, being a student, despite what many adults and other stereotypes of student laziness suggest, is genuinely tiring. In fact, it’s exhausting. There is the workload and endless socialising, looking after yourself by making sure you have enough food in and laundry done, juggling a tight student budget devoid of steady income; add running on top of this, and it’s easy to burn out pretty quickly.

Yet consequently, the runners high feels even stronger. You managed to run against the odds! This sense of accomplishment increases when you have had a day in the library. Getting out for a run with other students lets you talk (or moan) about different workloads and discuss future races and training. Everyone I chat to after a run looks much more relaxed and in a better frame of mind. This is something non-running students often don’t understand.

Running as a student is a great perk of student life. Many students within the running club have admitted that they would have struggled to have such a great network of friends without the running scene. Indeed, to many students, learning without running would be no learning at all.


Women's Running Magazine

NMA’s 2020 Lifestyle Magazine of the Year, Women’s Running provides expert advice on gear and training, motivation from your favourite runners and the latest running news.

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