At it’s core, running is an inexpensive sport. All you really need is a good pair of sneakers — and I’m sure some would argue against even that!
However, I feel like every time I blink, there is a new gadget, accessory or piece of clothing that is on the market. Don’t get me wrong – I own a lot of these things, and I think a good number of them have their uses to make running more enjoyable. But, the reality is they aren’t necessary. If you are new to the sport of running, it can be overwhelming to see nothing but dollar signs all the time.
Here are some ways to keep the costs associated with running down:
- Buy the previous shoe model: It’s always fun to own the shoes that were just released, but you will be paying the full cost for that pair. If you wait until the next model comes out, you can often get them for up to 50% off the retail price. They are still unused, new shoes, just last year, last month or even last week’s model.
- Not everything needs to be wicking/running-brand: For years, my running pants were cheap leggings, my outer gear was a fleece half zip and my gloves were from the 99 cent store. And you know what? They worked fine. 8-12 years ago, I ran both my first half marathon and first marathon in that type of gear. Now, I will admit that the thicker and better quality gear keep me warm for the long, wet or cold runs in the winter months. But for day-to-day short runs, it may not be necessary to spend a ton of money.
- Shop end of season clearance: The worst time to buy a running jacket, tights or gloves is in the weeks leading up to winter or smack dab in the middle of the cold months. Use what you have this year. Then buy the necessities when the large brands begin selling their spring/summer gear. Typically, clothes will go on sale/clearance but if you wait a few weeks, they’ll be a deal to save an additional 25-50% off those prices.
- Use old/used gear as base layers: I usually wear last year’s gear as my base layer during the winter so I keep the newer gear in better condition for the warmer months. Nobody will see what’s underneath your jacket or long-sleeve shirt anyway, so save a few shirts with stains or holes in them for that very purpose.
- Focus on local races: Local races are typically much more inexpensive. Most of the short local races are between $25-30 while the longer distance ones are still well under $100. I would love to run my favorite races (NYC Marathon, NYC Half to name a few!) each year but I simply can’t afford to do so because of the high entry fees.
- But if you really want to do a large one – sign up early: If you have a larger, more expensive race on your bucket list, sign up as early as you can. A lot of races offer reduce pricing if you register 9-12 months in advance, and then the price continues to climb as you get closer to race day.
- Buy in bulk: Gus, chomps and gels can be incredibly expensive if you buy 1-2 at a time. I always buy them by the case. I know I will use them and I end up paying 50% of the cost of single packs. If you don’t think you’ll go through that many, find a friend or two and split the box!
- GPS: I think this is a personal decision. I know plenty of runners who don’t use a GPS or who rely on their iPhone. (There are some great apps out there that can track your pace/mileage/etc.) There are just as many runners who feel their GPS watch was their best purchase. I am okay with spending some money on a GPS because it’s something I use almost every single run (just like a good pair of shoes). I find it keeps me on track when I am training for a specific distance. If you are inclined to purchase one, I’d recommend doing some research online before you head to the nearest store. There is always a sale somewhere, and you can often save a lot of money if you wait until the next model comes out (much like shoes and gear!)
- Utilize online retailers: I check out sites such as Zulily, The Clymb, Rue La La, 6pm and HauteLook for deals on running-related gear. They are free to join and have different brands on a daily basis that are usually sold for 3-4 days at a time. You have to be diligent and check these sites fairly often, but you can get some awesome deals on gear when they are listed!