The cost of running can get out of hand
The basic gear for running is inexpensive. If you are new to running, you probably have most of the items you need to run all ready.
What do you need?
Shoes. Good running shoes are essential and you should go to a local running store for your first pair. They will fit you properly and keep you from buying the prettiest pair on the wall. Bright and pretty colors do not always mean the best pair of shoes for you.
How to save money on shoes. Good quality running shoes will cost around $100.00, but there are ways to save. At the running store ask if they offer any discounts. Many stores offer a 10% discount for members of local running clubs and they may provide this discount to you if you ask. They may give you a discount for being a new runner or a new customer. Just ask.
Some running stores also have special discounts for club members at certain times of the year. Marathon Sports offers the Melrose Running Club a 20% discount shopping night a few weeks before Christmas. 20% on a $115 pair of shoes is a $23 savings.
Fit2Run, a running shop with 10 locations in Florida, offers a 10% discount to local club members and additional discounts to their Club Fit2Run members.
In addition to saving 10% on your shoes, you can also save 10% on clothes and nutritional items by joining a local club.
There are also on-line stores such as Road Runner Sports which offer 20% discounts with membership. Membership is often free and they have frequent sales with higher discounts.
A little secret is that many of these on-line stores offer big discounts on close-out shoes. Running shoe companies change their models every year. If you keep your eyes open and search the web you can find last year’s model at a steep discount.
Once you are properly fitted by a local running store, you can look for great deals on your shoes when they are on close-out. I bought two pairs of Brooks Adrenaline 9 for $69.00 a pair a few years ago. Full retail was around $109, so I saved a ton and had shoes for the year.
If you wear a popular model, ie Brooks Adrenaline, in a common size, it can be difficult to find your shoe on close-out. Don’t buy a different size or width just to save $40. It’s not worth it. When you do find a great deal at a reputable site such as RoadRunnerSports.com, go for it.
Clothes. When you are starting out, comfortable shorts and a t-shirt are about all that you need. As your mileage increases you will want to buy running shorts and at least one high quality shirt from the running store. As mentioned above, many running stores will give you a 10% discount if you join a local running club.
You can spend as much as you want on shoes and clothes, but you do not have to. Spend your money on good shoes, use what you all ready own for shorts and shirts and get started. Many races give shirts to runners and your collection will build quickly.
How to save money of running clothes. Adidas, Road Runner Sports and other sport clothing companies have sales all the time. Much like high fashion, every year there are new shirts, shorts, sports bras, socks, fabrics and materials. Last year’s sweat wicking shirt will work fine even when it has been discontinued by Asics.
If you join the mailing list for a variety of companies, your in-box will be full of specials and discounts. It costs nothing to join these lists and you can save a lot.
Food and Beverage
As a new runner you do not need any of the high tech and high price nutritional supplements. If you are running a 5K, or for less than an hour, a bottle of water is all that you really need. Your body will not run out of electrolytes in an hour, under most conditions. When you get home have a glass of chocolate milk and a banana and you should be all set.
As you run longer distances or under more extreme conditions you may want to look at
sport drinks like Gatorade or PowerAde. You can usually find the G2 Gatorade at a grocery store.
G2 is the beverage to drink during a long run and which is handed out at most race aid stations. This stuff was not made to be drank like coffee or soda.
Many running stores do not carry sports drinks. There are many brands and carrying more than a few would take up too much space. Gatorade 01, pre-race, and Recovery 03, post-race, beverages are not available at most grocery stores.
To save money, look for local grocery stores that carry the drinks you like and look for sales on these items.
There is a dizzying array of food/nutritional products made for runners. There is GU, Hammer GEL, PowerGel and PowerBar, and New Grounds Coffee Bars to name just a few. These do not taste like a Snickers bar. These are not candy. These are highly engineered nutritional products made for athletes.
Just like Gatorade, you shouldn’t be eating these as snacks. They are loaded with sugars that hit your blood stream rapidly.
These are referred to as “High GI” foods. On the Glycemic Index these foods are probably 90+. Table sugar, sucrose, has a GI of 100. As a distance runner looking to re-fuel rapidly, this is great stuff.
If you are going for a walk or short jog after dinner, you do not need these. They are not desert.
When I run a marathon I often consume 3-5 GU/GEL packets. I also eat a nutrition bar before the race and have started drinking a recovery beverage after a race. These cost about $15.00 all together. During a marathon I’ll burn close to 4,000 calories. My body needs these energy foods.
For races shorter than a half marathon I skip all of this. You can also.
How to save on nutritional food and beverages. If you need these items, your local running store will give you their 10% discount, just like they do on shoes. Often at a race or race expo you can get free samples of nutritional foods and beverages. Sometimes you can get several bars or drinks. The best way to save money on nutritional food and drinks is to only use them when you need them.
Buying a box of bars or gels is another good way to save. The per unit price is usually cheaper than individual items.
Again – you do not need any of these unless you are running longer than 1 hour.
Race Entry Fees
You can find 5K races for $15-35 all over the place. Marathons can be $70-150 easily. To register with an invitational number for The 2014 Boston Marathon is $325.
If you run a bunch of races during the year it can add up to $1,000 very quickly. I spent close to $1,200 in 2013 and will probably spend more than that in 2014.
A simple way to save on race entries is to register early and on line. For a 5K you may save $5 with an early on-line registration. For a marathon you may save $30-40 with an early on-line registration. Race day registration has the highest price and causes the most amount of stress.
Coolrunning.com is a great resource to look for races. If you plan your season ahead of time you can take advantage of early registrations. The key is to register early.
If you sign up for more than 20 races each year, you may want to look at Active.com’s ActiveAdvantage. For $64.95 per year you can sign up for races on active.com without any processing fees. Processing fees can add 5-10% to the cost of registration.
I saved about $60 last year and essentially broke even. Other ways to save with active are discounts on race registrations and FREE registrations. You have to watch the site closely to get in on these deals as free entries go fast.
ActiveAdvantage also offers discounts on clothing and gear. Again, you have to watch the site to find discounts on brands and items you want. Saving 50% on an item you do not need is not saving money.
Many races do not use Active.com to handle their registrations. But there are race management companies do not charge processing fees. The price you see is what you pay. Local Y’s, gyms or Chambers of Commerce sponsor races and often have low registration fees.
For new runners
Save your money for shoes and race registrations. Only buy the high tech food and beverage when you need them. Look for races sponsored by local civic groups and register early!
Pick up extra PowerBars, etc. at races, try ordering close-out shoes on line, look for races sponsored by local civic groups, and sign up early.
Run well my friends.
© 2014 andrew nagelin