Running is often said to be the least expensive sport around. All that’s needed is a pair of shoes, a road or a trail and you’re good to go.
But as it turns out, running is not as cheap as it’s touted to be — at least not if you want to get serious about it. A survey of runners in the US revealed that the average runner spends approximately $1,000 every year on the sport. These expenses include gear and apparel, sport-specific gadgets, coaching services, and of course, races. Novice, intermediate, and veteran runners also spend just about the same amount. While beginners spent the least on shoes, they make up for it with race and coaching fees to improve on their technique and performance. They also stock up on apparel, while intermediate and veteran runners spend more on shoes and races.
How to make running cheaper
Having said that, you don’t have to spend a fortune on running. Even athletes get sponsorships that help cut down on costs. But even without endorsement deals, there are plenty of ways to reduce expenses and save money as a runner.
• Purchase quality gear, apparel, and gadgets
Your biggest and most recurring expenses as a runner are the things you wear and use regularly. These include your shoes, activewear, and tech gadgets like GPS watches. They wear out and have to be replaced over time.
It’s important to do research before buying the essentials, even if it’s just a simple pair of running shorts or leggings. Choosing the right fabrics is crucial because they dictate your comfort level and affect your performance on the trail or on the road. With FlipBelt’s athletic leggings, you don’t have to replace your running apparel as frequently because each pair is made with quality fabrics.
This also applies to tech gadgets and shoes, given that they’re not exactly a bargain. For instance, there are a lot of technical running shoes that promise to prevent injuries, increase speed, and maximize comfort on long distances. Greatist highlighted studies showing that many of these features are not evidence-based and may even be counterproductive in reducing the risk for injury. Furthermore, more affordable shoes have higher ratings and user satisfaction, which goes to show that the price has nothing to do with comfort and performance.
• Look for free training plans
Customized training plans and coaching are nice to have but not always necessary. Casual runners can get by with free advice online, as well as the support of their peers. Try looking for running clubs in your area — you can easily learn from the more experienced runners without having to pay for anything out of the ordinary.
Cross training programs don’t have to come at a high cost, either. Instead of getting an expensive gym membership, explore what you can do with body weight exercises. For instance, you can start practicing yoga more. Sports science research from Hokkaido found that yoga is actually beneficial for runners and endurance athletes. The practice can improve overall performance by strengthening your core and increasing flexibility, which many runners tend to lack. There are other benefits too such as better breathing and a stronger mindset. Fortunately, there are hundreds of yoga tutorials online. Many are even catered towards runners and you can take advantage of each one without breaking the bank.
• Be selective with races
Races are a benchmark for runners regardless of their level of experience. They are also undeniably fun but if you’re looking to cut costs, you have to be selective with the races you’re joining.
For example, limit yourself to a certain number of races per year. Registering for local or nearby marathons can also cut down on associated costs like travel and accommodation. And if there’s a specific race you want to join, scour the internet for discounts, promotions, and early bird deals.
The point is that there are many ways to trim down running expenses and even make money on the side. The sport is undoubtedly more expensive than it used to be but for a good reason. These innovations and new technologies aim to turn you into a better runner — you just have to know which ones are right for you.
Written by Alicia Marjorie Sebastian
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"Photo by Brian Erickson on Unsplash"