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4361 Views 11 Replies Latest reply: Jun 27, 2011 2:38 PM by BradW44
Ericd3043 Legend 266 posts since
Aug 2, 2009
Currently Being Moderated

Jun 24, 2011 1:42 PM

Is Running really a "free" sport?

I ask because someone here had posted recently that they started running because it was free.  In one way, it is - you can go out and run anywhere without special equipment, etc.


However, when I look at my check book - it tells a different story.  Here are my purchases for the year and some things I did to reduce the costs.  It may help some of the new runners things to look for and tips to keep the costs down.  A recent RW article talked about reducing costs on running - but missed some basic things, so this is my take on what I do.  I am cheap so good deals are what I keep an eye out for:


My purchases in 2011:


1)  Running shoes:  Being told that I should change shoes every 350-500 miles made me realize that I am over that amount on my 2 pairs I bought early in 2009.  Checking my newer pair proved that the cushioning was gone and might explain some aches and pains I was having.

          I came across a Groupon $50 certificate to Fit3 in Vienna for $25.  In addition, came across a 20% off coupon on their FB page.  The $110 pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 7's I picked up to match my running style, stride and issues:  $34 + $25 for the groupon certificate = $59 for the shoes (+ 2 Honey Stinger gels).  I expect to buy 1 more pair of shoes this year - $80 average cost.


2)  Race Fees:  I sign up early when I can.  I have raced in the Cherry Blossum 10miler and a misc. 5k as well as am signed up for a 5 miler, marathon and at least 1 5k.  Fees came out to $250 with the marathon in at $85 and the 10 miler at $60.  One note, I will get a jacket and some nice goodie items from the marathon - so that will help out with racing gear.


3)  Racing clothes -  I try to buy a couple of racing clothes each year.  Most of my shirts I will upgrade to the tech shirts if possible during races since I can wear them when running.  One note - Did you know Coke Rewards has Nike gift cards available?  Late last year, they had a sale on the gift cards - 1/2 price on points.  I was able to get $50 in gift cards with no costs because I had entered the points during the year.  With that and the items I found on clearance - I got a pair of running shorts and 2 shirts (1 tech and 1 compression shirt) for $60.  After the gift card - the cost was $10.  I expect to buy socks, etc during the rest of the year - so $50 is realistic for the year in costs (unless I save more coke points)


4) Racing gear - I try to buy 1 more item during the year.  2 years ago I got the Garmin GPS watch (I love that item - the best item I could find).  Last year , it was inserts for my shoes as well as Road ID tag and running gloves.  This year, it was the Nathan 4 hydration belt.  Normally $50 in the stores, I got it for $35.  But, because Groupon had a $15 ebay coupon for $7 - I was able to get it for a net total of $27.


5) Nutrition:  I do not include fluids because I will drink them anyway.  However, the energy gels are another story.  I picked up 2 cases of Honey Stingers for $42 , free shipping and $5 off coupon (so total cost $37).  I have picked up Cliff bars as well but they are not just for running - sometimes they come in handy at work or softball...


So, this "free" sport cost me:  $140 shoes, $250 fees, $50 clothes, $27 gear, $37 nutrition.


$504 for the year.... not quite free and maybe cheaper than some activities, but I am sure others might know of some ways to even narrow it down more.  The shoes are a given... I learned the hard way about having proper shoes.  The clothes are made for running and much better than regular clothes in terms of comfort, etc.  Your thoughts?

My race times (2012)

Race Schedule for the year:

May 6th Frederick Running Festival 1/2 Marathon

May 28th Run through the Park, Ligonier 5k

August Tentative - 5 miler in Chambersburg, PA

October Baltimore Running Festival Marathon (also the 2nd part of the MD Double challenge)

Personal Best :

5K : 28:32 Run through the Park, Ligonier PA

5mile : TBA- Marine Corp 5 Miler in August, Chambersburg PA

10mile : 1:44:52 Cherry Blossum Festival Run, Washington DC

Marathon : 5:01:22 Akron Marathon

  • flamomof3 Legend 1,928 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Jun 24, 2011 6:54 PM (in response to Ericd3043)
    Re: Is Running really a "free" sport?




    I save alot by buying a lot on Ebay, except shoes...I save in  money and gas (free shipping)

  • aj01 Pro 143 posts since
    Jul 8, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Jun 24, 2011 8:21 PM (in response to Ericd3043)
    Re: Is Running really a "free" sport?

    Free only if you're a barefooter and typically don't run real far, live near good place to run, and don't enter any races.  I got more serious about running because I figured that I couldn't afford a fast car but fast or at least faster feet just required practice.  Well, I found that's not true.  Although, running is relatively inexpensive compared to many other hobbies, it's still what you make of it.  If you travel all over the country running marathons then it's definately not cheap, or if you've developed a running shoe addiction like me.  If you're easy on your shoes, don't need the best shirts, shorts, etc. and stick to local races it's not too bad.  But no matter what, it's worth it.

  • 64spokes Pro 60 posts since
    Apr 24, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Jun 24, 2011 11:07 PM (in response to Ericd3043)
    Re: Is Running really a "free" sport?

    Some things I do to keep costs down:


    Check clearance retailers, like Ross, Kohls, Mervyns especially for shorts, but also tech shirts.  I have a number of pairs of nice running shorts I've gotten for $10-15.  Shirts are even easier.  A few of my lighter cycling jerseys work find for running, or you can get active wear shirts at these places for the same 10-15.  Good shoes in common sizes are harder, but I've gotten nice mid range Asics, New Balance etc for $40 from Big 5 Sports and Sports Authority.  Sometimes you can luck out with last year's models being cleared away.


    I haven't tried online for shoes yet, but I may give it a try and hope the sizing works out.  I've seen some great deals at


    I have a Garmin Edge 305 cycling computer with HRM I use for running.  Not ideal since it's not a watch, but I can leave it in my cycling jersey pocket, and get my HR data afterwards.  I got that one for < $100 at REI clearence.  You might check craigslist for things like that.  I also have an android phone that I use for tracking runs.  It would work fine even without the phone capability, so I expect there to be a lot of old phones available once people start upgrading.


    I used to get a lot of my cycling clothes at thrift stores.  Often with new tags still in place.  I used to joke that my sponser was Goodwill :-)

  • IAmBarry Amateur 27 posts since
    Jun 14, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Jun 25, 2011 5:21 AM (in response to Ericd3043)
    Re: Is Running really a "free" sport?

    Hey Eric I was the one who posted about it being free and I already know what you mean. I just bought a treadmill for $1400 so that I can run when I'm on pager duty 1 week a month. I bought a pair of running shoes, some running clothes, a stopwatch, an armband radio and now I am eyeballing heart rate monitors. I have spent a lot of money and I've only been running for about 3 1/2 months. But I look at it as an investment into my health rather than spending money on a hobby. Now I just have to fine tune that argument so I can convince my wife I need the heart rate monitor.....

  • MichaelS75 Pro 168 posts since
    Apr 29, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Jun 25, 2011 7:27 AM (in response to IAmBarry)
    Re: Is Running really a "free" sport?

    I'm fortunate that I get to shop at the Nike store, which is not open to the public and everything in the store is approximately 1/2 off.  I paid $49 for my Pegasus, dry fit shirts are $10-15, socks $7, etc.  So don't laugh at me when you see me all decked out in Nike gear

    C25K Graduate 6/15/11

    Gibson Guitars 5k (6/11/11, first 5k, 34:58)

    Comcast Firecracker 5k (7/3/11, 31:13)

    Forrest Spence 5k (8/27/11, 28:15)

    Chick-Fil-A 5k (9/5/11, 29:26)

    Cooper Young Festival 4-Miler (9/16/11, 36:30)

    Camp Good Grief 5k (10/2/11, 28:45)

    LeBonheur Pumpkin Run 5k (10/8/11, 27:09)

    Home Run 5k (10/23/11, 27:55)

    Turkey Trot 4-Miler (11/24/11, 36:50)

    St. Jude Half Marathon (12/3/11, 2:22:33)

  • skypilot77 Legend 1,077 posts since
    Dec 16, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Jun 25, 2011 10:35 AM (in response to Ericd3043)
    Re: Is Running really a "free" sport?

    "Free" is kind of a relative term but $500 (more or less) for an entire year of the activity is just a little over a dollar a day.


    In terms of health that is the best buck a day you are spending.


    I have played a lot of hockey in my life -- try those costs on for size


    Golfing greens fees and equipment are out of this world.


    Curling is a realtively cheep sport once you buy your first set of curling stones -- they tend to last a long time. The little brooms wear out though.


    Formula 1 racing is a bit expensive


    Polo -- the cost of horse feed alone will put you in the poor house.


  • Marykb Legend 1,347 posts since
    Jan 16, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Jun 25, 2011 6:52 PM (in response to Ericd3043)
    Re: Is Running really a "free" sport?

    You can spend as much or as little as you like.  Except for shoes, everything else you mentioned is optional (and if you are a barefoot runner, then shoes are optional too!)


    Races are optional, gadgets are optional and even specific "running clothes" are optional.   On a shoestring you can run in $60 shoes that you replace 2-3 times/year and wear normal t-shirts and shorts for running.   A Garmin is TOTALLY optional - I have run for years and never had one.  I have a $10 chronograph watch from Target that keeps my time.   Even the energy gels - optional!  You can use foods you have right around the house for the most part.  Try Fig Newtons or raisins, for example.  Hydration belt?  You can work around that too if you really want to...stash disposable water bottles along your route ahead of time, noting where there will be trash cans to throw them away.  Or if you run a loop you can leave your water in one place and pick it up when you come around.

    Believe me, I practice all these techniques myself.


    You may not consider races optional, but look at it this way.  Many races are for charitable causes.  If those are the races you normally run, then you can consider that part of your yearly charitable "donation".  So from that standpoint it isn't really an expense either.


    Free?  Well no, if only because of the necessity for running shoes.  But very inexpensive?  Yes, it really can be!

  • SteveBikeRun Legend 454 posts since
    Aug 3, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Jun 26, 2011 8:56 AM (in response to Marykb)
    Re: Is Running really a "free" sport?

    Two pair of shoes per year at about $110 per, plus entry fees for 6-8 races at an average of $40 (lower for 5K, more for half marathons), Gatorade, socks and other accessories plus one-time expenses like my hydration belt and my Garmin Forerunner.  I figure that what I spend in a year to stay in shape is far less than one day in the hospital with heart or other problems.


    No, running is not a free sport, but it or any other form of exercise is well worth the time and expense when you consider the alternative.


    Completed in 2012:

    The Qualifier HM, Midland MI, May 2012, 2:58, 80+ degrees

    Dam to Dam 20K, Des Moines, IA, June 2012, 2:17, PR for this race

    Garry Bjorklund HM, Duluth, MN, June 2012, 2:20

    Fox Valley HM, St. Charles, IL, 9/16/12, 2:23

    Des Moines HM, 10/21/12, 2:19

    Tentative plans for 2013:

    Wisconsin (Half) Marathon, Kenosha, WI 5/4/2013 (registered)

    Dam To Dam 20K, Des Moines, 6/2/2013 (registration opens March 20th)

    Grandma's (Half) Marathon, Duluth, MN, 6/22/2013 (if I get picked again in the lottery)

    Des Moines HM, 10/20/2013 (registered)

  • busterm3 Rookie 1 posts since
    Mar 11, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Jun 26, 2011 11:11 AM (in response to Ericd3043)
    Re: Is Running really a "free" sport?

    I think you could say the "training" runs are free but the equiptment to do it costs money and the races total costs (registration, transportation, food, etc.) can add up. The last couple of years I've had a problem with scuffing the pavement as my foot goes forward and wear my shoes down to the white in weeks! I buy 2 pair at a time and alternate them daily so I usually wear them out at the same time. It's a pain as i almost fall down many times per run but so far can't seem to lift my leg high enough to let it go forward without hitting the street and not sure what I can do about it. It has really affected my [ace terribly as now I have to watch I don't fall on my face (again) from rapid turnover and not being able to catch myself if I stumble. *&^%$#@!

  • BradW44 Pro 119 posts since
    Jun 15, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Jun 27, 2011 2:38 PM (in response to Ericd3043)
    Re: Is Running really a "free" sport?

    I totally agree with Marykb.  The shoes are the only must have.  Everything else is optional.  I choose to wear a running watch but could use a cheaper one.  I have never had a chafing issue with cotton so t shirts are no issue.  When I ran in high school, we used to find t shirts on the side of the road and wash them and wear them.  It was like a trophy, our coach taught us to use what you have.  Of course this was way before the time of ipods and tech shirts and air insoles.  My first real running shoes were the Nike LDV.  Anyone remeber those?  It was 1980.  We bought them out of a garage from what I believe was the first national distributor of running shoes DICK POND ATHLETICS in Glen Ellyn Illinois.  It was pretty close to free back then and it still is pretty close unless you choose all of the upgrades.  My sone plays football and basketball, those $500 and up for a season plus shoes, etc.....


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