You're not just a runner for the hour you spend pounding the pavement every day. You're a runner when you wake up and eat an extra bowl of oatmeal to get you though that morning's tough interval workout. You're a runner when you'd rather spend the evening rolling your calves than going to the theater with friends, and when you can't wait to spend your Saturday exploring the new trails that just opened up at your local nature preserve. Running is more than a hobby -- it's a lifestyle. It's important that you find an apartment that fits your lifestyle. Here are five elements of an apartment that will make life as a runner simpler, more enjoyable, and more convenient.

Location near a spacious park.

Even if you usually prefer to run on the streets, there are bound to be times when you want to just space out and run without worrying about dodging traffic. Parks are perfect for days like this. They also give you a nice place to congregate for runs with friends, and since runners tend to spend plenty of time in parks, you might meet some new friends, too. If you can find an apartment near a park with dirt trails, this is even better. Running on dirt is a nice break for your legs when you're used to hard pavement.

Access to sidewalks or a low-traffic streets from the front door.

Some days you won't have time to get in your car and drive across town to the park to run. You'll be trying to squeeze in a quick 3 miles before work or school, and being able to just step out your front door and go is invaluable. Make sure the street you're considering living on is safe, and that there's not too much traffic. Also, drive around the neighborhood and start planing some possible running routes. Make sure you'll have plenty of options for loops and out-and-backs, so you don't get bored too easily.

Washer and dryers available on-site.

You can identify a runner by his or her laundry pile. The stack of shorts, singlets, and sweaty socks grows quickly, and if you have to lug it all down the street to the laundromat to wash it, you won't have any time left to run! Having a washer and dryer either in your apartment or in the same building will save you a lot of time. You can do laundry while you stretch, eat a meal, or email your coach.

A bathtub, not just a shower stall.

When you're looking at apartments, be sure to check inside the bathrooms. Some modern apartments only offer standing shower stalls, rather than combined bath and shower stalls. When you get back from a long run and your legs are sore, you'll want to be able to soak in cool water or take an ice bath to speed recovery, and the bathtub is really the only place to do this.

A fully-equipped kitchen.

With people eating out more often than ever before, some efficiency apartments are beginning to offer scaled-down versions of kitchens in order to increase living space and save on appliances. These might work for some residents who are happy microwaving the occasional bowl of macaroni and cheese and getting the rest of their meals on-the-go, but it's not ideal for a runner. With the volume of food most runners eat, eating out all of the time gets expensive! Pay a little more for an apartment with a full kitchen, and you'll save money by being able to cook more of your meals at home. Your running friends will enjoy being able to come over for a home-cooked feast, too.

Serious runners eat, sleep, and breathe their sport. If you have a true passion for running, make sure you're living in an apartment that supports your habit. This way, you're more likely to stick with running as a lifelong endeavor, and you'll be happier and healthier because of it. Keeping these tips in mind as you check out rental listings from sources like Renters Guide will help you find the best apartment for your lifestyle. 

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