Running is Cheap

Posted by Filed Under: Fun & Jokes

Somewhere along the line you’ve probably heard someone say that running is a cheap sport to take up—all you really need is a pair of running shoes. If you’ve been a runner for any length of time, then you know that this is an outright lie.

Sure, it starts out being cheap, but it doesn’t take long before you’re wondering if owning a stable of racehorses might not have been a cheaper hobby. If you’re like me, you probably started your running career with a pair of shoes that you already owned, thinking that this running thing is downright free. I mean, what else could you possibly need to run?

So you’re enjoying running and all the extra money that is swimming around in your pockets, but before you know it something doesn’t feel right. Your knee hurts or your foot just doesn’t feel right when you run, and someone helpfully suggests that you really should get fitted for running shoes at a proper running shoe store. No problem. You go to the local running store, go through the gauntlet of tests and walk away with a $100 pair of shoes that you’re convinced were custom made at the factory with you in mind. They were hardly cheap but they’re just shoes, what else could there be? As you leave the store they tell you that you shouldn’t wear them for anything but running and that they should be replaced after 400-500 miles.

The shoes turn out to be worth the money because they allow you to run without any pain, but pretty soon you’re wondering why you are the only runner on the trail wearing a cotton t-shirt. Just to see what all the fuss is about you purchase a dry fit, wicking shirt that the industry refers to as a ‘tech shirt’ because you can charge more for things that have the word ‘tech’ in the name. The tech shirt is much nicer to run in and even the most ungrateful nipples will thank you profusely, but you’ll soon tire of washing it after each use and you’ll buy more shirts. A lot more.

As the winter months get closer and the daylight hours grow shorter you’ll realize that you need to purchase some reflective running attire so that you can be seen at dawn or dusk. The temperatures will drop and you’ll need to procure gloves, hats, sweatshirts and leggings made from some expensive wicking material. Even with all this great cold gear there will be days when it’s too cold or too icy to run outside, and that’s why you’ll need a gym membership. Getting to the gym to run on their indoor track or treadmills can be such a hassle though, perhaps it would behoove you to just invest in your own treadmill. Go ahead and throw in the warranty that will expire two months too soon while you’re at it.

Running is getting pretty expensive, but the truth is that it’s only just getting started. Every year there will be more and more races that you have to enter which equates to more money spent on race fees and travel expenses for those out of town races. You’ll need a better sports watch than the one you currently own, perhaps even a Garmin. You’ve got your subscription to Runner’s World magazine and if you’re smart like me a backup subscription in case one gets lost in the mail. You’ll have membership dues to your local running club because it’s more fun to run with friends, even if you are theoretically paying them to be your running friends. You’ll eventually need special laundry detergent to get the body odor out of your beloved tech shirts and it’s going to put a dent in your grocery budget when you add in the Gatorade and PowerBars. You probably already own an MP3 player but you’ll constantly need to update your playlist with motivational songs and you’ll have to buy them because you’re an upstanding citizen, not one of those shady characters who illegally downloads free music. Before long you’ll get hit with your first running injury, hopefully nothing too critical and your doctor will tell you (after a $20 co-pay) that you need to take a couple of weeks off running. A couple of weeks off? Is he serious? You can’t possibly! But the doctor knows best and now you need a new bike to crosstrain on during your time off from running because that clunky old bike in your garage obviously won’t crosstrain you as well as a shiny new road bike would.

You know what else you’re going to need? A second job to pay for this new running addiction that someone told you was cheap, but if you take on a second job then when will you have the time to run? You’d consider selling plasma or bone marrow if they’d let you do it more than twice a week. Perhaps you’d be better off financially if you just quit running altogether, but that’s not really an option. You’re committed to running for life which is appropriate given that you just dropped two month’s salary on your last outing to the running store.

Image courtesy of Tracy Olson

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About Ian

Hello, my name is Ian and I'm a runner. After several years of promising to train for and run the Bolder Boulder 10K I finally signed up for it in 2005 with zero training under my belt. Shocked that I was slower than I thought I should be, I made it my goal to be faster the following year. I'm still not as fast as I should be, but I have been a runner ever since. I believe in quality miles over quantity of miles. I believe that you have to run faster in order to run faster, and I believe that I can. I believe in the Garmin. I believe in motion control and that I have an unhealthy addiction to running shoes. I believe in carb loading and tapering, even before a 5K. I believe I’ll never need to buy another t-shirt ever again. I live to run and I run for the post race spread, where the free food and drink flows like milk and honey, and sometimes even includes milk and honey.

  1. Sheamus on July 29th at 3:02 am

    This is a fantastic post, and so true! Running IS free if you’re a guy in Kenya who runs bare-feet simply for the love of it. For everybody else, as you say, it starts out that way and ends up costing you not only a fortune in money, but time as well… 🙂

    Sheamuss last blog post..Competition Update!

  2. Edmond on July 29th at 4:57 am

    Soooo true! Excellent post.
    The shoes, the tech-clothing and the Garmin are all necessary tools. Don’t forget the fact that you need to eat approx. twice the ammount you did before, so as to keep your weight from dropping to dangerous lows.

  3. sarah on July 29th at 5:26 am

    Wow…I swear this post was, like, mainlined from my own thoughts. I believe I’ve written a couple just like it

    This reminds me, I have decided I need another short-sleeved tech shirt. Two just aren’t enough, you know!

    sarahs last blog post..The Six Word Race Report Challenge

  4. Duff on July 29th at 6:39 am

    I read the same thing several years ago.
    My Athletic Supporter (wife) asked me why it is that I always end up with the most expensive shoe when I get a fitting.

    Don’t forget Running Times. Even though it is owned by Runners World you have to know how the other side sees it. The seamless running shorts and blister free socks, the cool sunglasses, and the fleece orange hunters vest (for cold mornings 3 hours b4 the sun comes up). When I gear up I usually have some theme going through my head like those Montages from the A-team.
    Of all of these things the most important is the RoadID or something like it. It is piece of mind for My Athletic Supporters and myself.

    Duffs last blog post..Running for Recovery (my recovery)

  5. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on July 29th at 6:46 am

    Even with those expenses, running is cheaper than other sports and hobbies. Even with travel and vacation expenses and getting a coaching certification, I’ve spent a mere percentage of what it would cost me to be a hockey player or football player.

    Blaine Moore (Run to Win)s last blog post..Would you give your medical information to a race?

  6. Viper on July 29th at 11:37 am

    And don’t forget the post-run hydrating! I can skip the Garmin, but not the Guinness.

    Vipers last blog post..Moderate Milestones

  7. Audrey on July 29th at 1:53 pm

    My biggest expense after shoes is travel and race entries. The running itself isn’t costly but when you like to go away for a day trip and a run in a nice place, that starts to add up.

    Audreys last blog post..Freezin’ The Balls Off A Brass Monkey!!

  8. Steve on July 30th at 6:20 pm

    I have to disagree as the costs are all relative if you want to participate in a sport.

    You don’t need to pay a membership, an entrance fee or use any mechanical or metallic equipment to train. Also for convenience, what other sport can you do from your door to your office with only a change of shoes/ shorts and a t-shirt?

    I bought a new pair of Nike Pegasus runners on Wednesday which cost me A$200… way more than the last pair 3 years ago; but on Tuesday I just paid for a service on my bike which cost A$300. On the race front I can do a local 10k event for $A20 or play a round of golf for A$40!

    Therefore in comparison I would say running is definitely the cheapest sport/ keep fit regime. You could say ocean swimming is better value, but you still need to get to the ocean or pay to live near water! I also snowboard, ride a bike and play golf – these are expensive sports!

  9. Xenia on August 2nd at 1:42 pm

    I only have one tech shirt right now. It’s getting pretty stinky, let me tell you. I already knew my shopping spree in the states was going to be bad. This just reinforces it.

    Pray for my bank account.

    Xenias last blog post..From the Mixed-Up Files of Ms Xenia T Nerdgirl

  10. Laura on August 6th at 8:17 pm

    I figured out that running the 50 States is going to cost me about $5,000 in race fees ALONE. That doesn’t include travel, food, shoes, clothes, etc… I’m trying to figure out if I can somehow get sponsored.

    Lauras last blog post..Wednesday night miscellany

  11. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on August 7th at 3:20 am

    Laura, I can think of sports where it costs $5,000 per year (or even per season!) – running in all 50 states for me personally is something that I’m aiming to spend 15-20 years doing, which is still relatively cheap. Sure, there are people that do it in a couple of years (or on consecutive days) but most of us work and spread it out at least a little.

    Blaine Moore (Run to Win)s last blog post..Back Cove Weekly Series » Week 13

  12. Al on February 18th at 8:51 pm

    Running is one of the cheaper sports out there. I am an avid runner and cyclist. I can say from experience that cycling is way more expensive than running. I do not have a gym membership either because that is more expensive than running. Yes, you can use the gym any time you want and they offer classes and have weights but the only time you can go to a gym and use the equipment without having 2 to 3 people hoovering around waiting for you to finish is at 5am in the morning. The classes offered are always full and the drive to the gym is not short either. Overall, running turns out to be a cheaper way of staying healthy. You do not have to buy a running shirt or running shorts. The 2 main things needed are good running shoes ($100) and good socks ($12 / 3-pack).

  13. monica @ aboldpace on November 3rd at 3:32 am

    So true…I’m hooked on Newton running shoes…they’re great, but it definitely hurts when they wear out and have to replace! Always a good read here… Thanks!