Written April 13th, 2012   

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!








Tags: Frugal Ideas, Running

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