Running Isn’t Cheap

Running is easy: just lace up your shoes and go, right? We even told you that you don’t need to buy expensive shoes . But even if you’re looking for the lowest-priced apparel, footwear and races, it’s hard to cut your overall budget. This is why and what you can do.

It’s impossible to save money on running, but aspiring runners should be skeptical of the notion that running is an almost free sport. And if you’re a seasoned runner with a closet full of clothes and overpriced gadgets, know you’re not alone.

Shoes are not cheap (even the cheapest)

Let’s take a look at the idea that you can run in cheap shoes. It’s true that big bucks don’t always buy the best shoes: some of the best-rated sneakers, according to a RunRepeat study , had low prices . Cheap, in sneaker terms, about $ 60. You can easily pay over $ 100 for a base pair.

One problem is that you don’t choose shoes with your brain; you choose with your feet. If the $ 60 shoe doesn’t seem right for you, or if you feel pain after running for a while, you need to try a new pair. The pair that works for you might turn out to be a $ 120 pair. This is especially true if you want or need damping or motion control features . So, check out cheap shoes first, but don’t be surprised if you end up spending more of the minimum.

In the store, it is also not always possible to tell which shoes are suitable. Comfort is a better indicator of a good shoe than how you walk or the height of your arches – but it’s comfort measured after a few miles on the road , not ten steps in a shoe store. I know I’m not the only runner with discarded shoes at the back of the closet. I have Brooks Adrenaline, which a running shoe employee says works best for my running, but every time I used them, I got pain in the arches after the first ten minutes. Then there is the New Balance Minimus, which was doing great for about two weeks until I realized I was developing tendonitis. I solved this problem simply by putting my old shoes back. In total, that’s about $ 170 wasted.

Here’s a well-kept secret: Many specialty running stores will let you return your shoes, even if you’ve run them. They also often let you run around the block or on the store treadmill while you try them on. It’s a good reason to shop at one of these stores instead of buying online or at retail with large boxes, but this great return policy comes at a price: the shoes in these stores tend to be more expensive than their counterparts elsewhere. places. On the other hand, once you find the shoes you like, you can browse through the sales or use the Shoekicker to find discounted ones.

Running clothes are not cheap

As a runner, you will be picky about your clothes and socks. Sports companies offer them in sweat-proof technical fabrics and designs that minimize uncomfortable friction. Sometimes it is possible to find the perfect piece of clothing cheaply, but this is not a guarantee. Employees of Runner’s World magazine once took it upon themselves to come up with budget running clothes in each of several supermarkets ($ 100 including shoes), and they failed . They found some things that they liked, but also many things that fell apart after one or two washings.

Cheap running clothes are available, but they have the same problem as any other cheap clothes: they are not necessarily of good quality. Even if you’re a rebel like me running around in cotton jerseys, you will still accumulate a small wardrobe of clothes that you set aside for running, and you will have to change them often when they fall apart.

If you are looking for a sports bra, this is also an investment. The bra you use for yoga or gym workouts probably won’t work for you, as jogging is much more active. Depending on your body type and your shopping luck, you may need to spend $ 50 or more on a bra that does the job (or a cheap bra with extra compression strap ). Then, either wash it every day or buy more than one.

Clothing gets even more expensive if you are serious enough about running and do it at night, in freezing temperatures, or over long distances. When I go out in winter, I wear a pair of $ 18 socks (well worth it!), A $ 50 neon pink jogging jacket that is waterproof, breathable, and conspicuous enough not to get knocked down in the dark (looks like this one ), and a $ 70 “base layer” wool shirt that was an extravagant gift card, but undoubtedly the best thing I’ve ever worn in the cold. I also have a pair ofwaterproof boots to keep out snow.

You can save on this extra gear by shopping for discounts (this base layer is selling for $ 50 as I write this), or by stacking imperfect items on top of each other. Cotton thermal underwear, for example, can do most of the work with a wool base layer, although it doesn’t wick away sweat.

Whether you’re doing marathon training or long-distance running, you’ll need a way to comfortably carry snacks and water bottles with you. The hydration belt costs at least $ 40, and if you don’t have one, you will need to adjust your running route to match the location of the fountains. Saving that money means giving up the freedom to run wherever you want.

You can keep costs down by running short distances in fine weather, which reduces the amount and variety of gear you need to buy. You can also search the Internet for discounts on high quality clothing brands you know.

Racing isn’t cheap

Many of us focus our workouts by choosing a race, whether it’s next year’s marathon or a five-kilometer race (about three miles) as a transition from couch workout to 5K workout.

Racing costs money. For a local 5K it could be as little as $ 20, which doesn’t really matter if you only race occasionally. But if you try to broaden your horizons, you will need to expand your budget. It now costs a whopping $ 255 to run the New York City Marathon — the assuming you even managed to get. Boston , Chicago , and DisneyWorld marathons go for about $ 180, and it’s rare to find a big marathon under $ 100.

Race fees are on the rise as running and racing become more popular. Basically, the race organizers realized that the events could be profitable. At the Pittsburgh Marathon ($ 145), runners receive a gift bag with just a few items (a whistle and a protein bar were in my bag this year) and have to walk through a crowded marketplace full of merchants to pick them up. There is, of course, a “free” T-shirt, but it’s on the other side of the exhibition. The organizers seem to be more interested in riders opening their wallets over and over than making the $ 145 worth it.

On the contrary, I had a great experience of participating in small local races. Find one that suits you and for that $ 20 (or a little more for longer distances) you can have fun, enjoy a generous post-race buffet, and enjoy a lot of your donation going to charity. Some of these races offer bags and free shirts, while others don’t. I just received a brochure in the mail yesterday that asked me to enter the local 5K race for $ 12 and shirts can be purchased for an additional $ 6.

If you prefer not to race, it will be even easier for you to save money. You can check your fitness at any time on the selected route. Start Strava and run a segment in your area if you enjoy competing with others.

And there is more

As a runner, you are part of the target market. Lots of companies need your dollars for everything from bumper stickers to expensive stylish compression socks and some running app features .

Many of these foods are actually healthy too. A GPS watch can be much more comfortable than having a phone in your pocket, and a good, non-bouncing pocket (for your phone or other essentials) is very useful. But this sport doesn’t look so cheap anymore, does it?

There is another aspect that is more difficult to assess: injury. Runners get injured at an incredible rate: a 1992 study in sports medicine calculated that the risk of injury was 37 to 56% for every runner per year. Other studies have come up with different numbers, but they all agree that runners are very prone to overuse injuries like tendonitis or other problems that can cause knee, ankle, and hip pain. You may have to pay for medical care for injuries, or you may abandon plans or skip work to take care of yourself. (By the way, many of the racing fees are non-refundable).

There is no reason to give up running if you enjoy it. I still run and I love it, but at this point I have a pretty clear idea of ​​how much it costs. Running is worth it for me. It’s also cheaper than many other sports that also require special equipment and can lead to injury. But now that I know better, I will never tell anyone that running is easy or cheap.


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