well, you can allways run it as a normal user if you just need to check up on things, in all distros ive dealt with it is runnable even without root if you dont need to make modifications.. But anyways.. You could just run:
su -c "/sbin/ifconfig"
as a normal user.. It will su to root after getting the password from you and run ifconfig.. If you need to do this more conviniently, for eg. automagically, I suggest investigating