9 Ways to Prevent Running From Breaking the Bank (Women’s Running Post)

I wrote this post for Women’s Running a few weeks ago and wanted to share it here as well.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

    austin half marathon 2007

    My first half marathon in 2007 – Danskin pants and a North Face half zip (not meant for running)

  3. 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.

    photo 2 (18)

    One of my favorite jackets was purchased after last winter!

  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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!)
  9. Utilize online retailers: I check out sites such as Zulily, The Clymb, Rue La La, 6pm and HauteLook (FYI: some of these are referral links) 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!

Any other money-saving tips to share? 

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I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

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    6 thoughts on “9 Ways to Prevent Running From Breaking the Bank (Women’s Running Post)

    1. Two other websites that I really like for running gear and other kinds of activewear/outdoor gear (e.g. yoga clothes, accessories, tents, backpacks, etc.) are theclymb.com and steepandcheap.com.

    2. Speaking of local races, volunteering for a race can sometimes include a free entry to a future race sponsored by the sames organizers. Not only do you get the freebie race, it feels great to support other runners and to give back to the community!

    3. Another good place to shop for running clothes is Target and Walmart. They carry name brands such as Champion and Hanes, and while the quality isn’t quite as good, it is certainly adequate if you are on a tight budget. My sister is so old school that she occasionally wears a cotton tee shirt, which she did two weeks ago when we ran in 13 degree weather. Of course she had an additional shirt and jacket (not a running one I might add) and a hand knitted wool cap. It amazes me that she runs without an accessories such as music or a watch, yet she is hardcore and qualified for Boston by more than 17 minutes. We will be lining up together on April 20th in Hopkington and can’t wait! I loved reading the recap when you ran with your sister!
      Pam recently posted..Countdown to Princess Half Marathon: One Month!My Profile

    4. These are all great tips! I’d add that I have bought most of my workout clothes at Marshall’s/TJ Maxx – they’ve really built up their active wear sections recently and there are often past season name brand (Under Armour, Nike, Reebok, even Brooks on occasion) gear for waaay cheaper than retail. I purchased my warmest winter running tights (by Avalanche) there for less than $20!

      Also, if you know of specific pieces you want that are on the expensive side, Ebay is another great place to find new gear for less. My go-to winter running jacket retailed for $250 and I found it new with tags on Ebay for $75. It takes some patience and vigilance to watch for, but can pay off significantly.