Is Running Cheap? I Blow the Lid Wide Open in a Startling Expose
The short answer: it can be.
Like so many things in life, the “Cheapness” of running just depends. Really all you need are your feet, some comfy old clothes, and the heart of a champion. Almost everyone has at least two out of those three, which is a good place to start.
When I started out I had: a really old pair of sneakers, a pair of long, baggy shorts (you know, to cleverly disguise my rear, and it totally works, too), and a collection of my husband’s cast-off x-large cotton t-shirts (you know, to cleverly disguise my tummy and my hips and my rear, and this also totally works. Fooled everyone into thinking I was a size 0).
This worked for me for a long time. I probably lost a good 20 pounds without spending a penny on special “running” gear. Then a few things happened: the old stuff started getting too big, I discovered Runner’s World magazine, and I read Born to Run (I love that book, but it can really mess with your running mojo if you’re not careful). Also, I started getting better and faster so I started racing just about every weekend. Entry fees can be up to $40.00, not to mention you want to look half-way decent when you’re in “The Show”.
Confronted by this barrage of running awesomeness, what’s a Cheapskate to do? I don’t know. But I can tell you what I did.
Shoes: As much as I love Born to Run, barefoot running is just not for me. I might accidentally step on a squished armadillo, and for some reason I firmly believe you can get leprosy from squished armadillos. After I had a bit of running experience under my belt, I found out that I like a big, fat cushioney shoe. The cushier, the better – none of this new-fangled minimalist stuff for me. In the short-run (ha ha) this is not cheap. So I spend about $100 every 6 months or so on a nice pair of running shoes. However, this saves me money in the long-run (again, ha ha) because I am taking good care of my feet, legs, and knees. VERDICT: NOT CHEAP
Clothes: Wooowee. This is a tough one for your average female runner (which I am). There is just so much cute stuff out there. And everyone knows, the cuter you look the better you run.
Enter Walmart and Target. I’m not particularly well-endowed, but still, a decent running bra is definitely a must. I get my most favorite running bra at Walmart, and it is about $11.00 A great price. Also, I have gotten shorts and tops at both places for “cheap”. They are holding up well, too.
Winter running, however, is a bit more expensive, which stands to reason because you have to wear more clothes. Or do you? When I discovered compression gear, it really took my winter running to a new level of comfort. But there is NO SUCH THING as cheap compression gear. (I have to look into Old Navy, though, they might have some reasonable stuff; Target’s Champion line is also good and relatively inexpensive). However, since I do laundry every day, I can easily get away with one pair of tights and one top. VERDICT: SOMETIMES CHEAP, SOMETIMES EXPENSIVE
Racing: Racing is super fun, so I recommend it highly. However, it can be expensive. But almost all races benefit some charity, so you can feel good about yourself on two fronts: physically and spiritually. So worth it. Also, racing EVERY weekend, while fun, is not necessary. Only racing two weekends a month will save lots of money. (There I am racing. That’s me on the left). VERDICT: SORTA CHEAP
Eating: I don’t follow a special “runner’s” diet, just eat normally (i.e. lots of veggies & beans, some fruit, chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, bread and pasta once in a while, sweets very rarely, coffee, tea, milk, diet coke, and water). Works for me, and lots of opportunities for saving money here. VERDICT: CHEAP
The Love of Family and Friends: Since everyone knows I like to run, I have also gotten great running gifts. My sister got me this wet-weather Columbia running outfit for Christmas. I love it! I think I might have skipped some runs if I hadn’t had it. My husband got me some great stuff for Christmas, too-check out the Under Armour on the right. Woo hoo! So put the word out there that you are a RUNNER. You just never know! VERDICT: PRICELESS
Conclusion: Start out small. Look around and use what you have (cheap). As you go along, you’ll get a feel for what you like and don’t like. Add things a little bit at a time to spread the cost out.
Also look at it this way: no matter how much you spend on running (or any other physical activity), it’s a heck of a lot cheaper and way more fun than quadruple-bypass surgery!