7 Keys to Running on a Budget

Once upon a time, my parents were THRILLED when I came to them and told them I wanted to run cross country. 

No pricey knee pads. No expensive club prices. No cutting-edge bats or special gloves.

Just running shoes.


And then, I became an adult and running caught on….with everyone.

ImageYou can’t turn a corner without finding out about a new neon paint run, or a run that takes you through muddy obstacles with the threat of electrocution or a run that’s simply in the city with glorified “swag bags” that are filled with coupons, a cotton T-shirt and crap you’ll never actually use.

Then, there are the running ACCESSORIES.

The compression socks (or tights). The fancy watch that monitors your heart rate, your mile pace, your oxygen level, your thought level, whether you need to pee…(it’s fancy). The water dispenser that fits snugly on your back. The perfect running bra. The perfect tech shirt containing the perfect blend of sweat-wicking material, heat maintaining material and soft material.

Basically, running has gotten expensive. And bulky. And frustrating.

It’s no wonder some of us are feeling a *tad* cynical about the sport where even doping is becoming a norm among the elite.

So, how do you run on a budget? How do you get back to the running of “yesteryear” that many of us miss.

Well, you don’t give in, first of all. {wink}

Here are a few other ways to run dirt cheap:

1. Skip the Pricey “Fun Runs.” Okay, so you want to get splashed with paint while you run around in a tutu at night time while hopping on one foot and diving through foam. I get it. It’s fun. But, consider your budget. Most of these races are $30+…and for what? Be practical and give yourself a few “splurge” races a year, but make it count. Consider signing up for a race that’s happening while you’re on a family vacation somewhere. Think: destination. Doesn’t that sound like a better return on your investment?

2. {If All Else Fails}…Search for Coupon Codes. If you are a die-hard for the “fun runs,” then search for a coupon code for goodness sake! LivingSocial.com, Groupon.com and even Google are your friends here. Even pose it to social media–ask your friends if they’ve seen any codes floating around. There’s nothing worse than spending too much on a short race when you could’ve saved mucho dinero. Por favor.

3. Sign Up for Fringe Races. Look outside of the major city near you and find locally organized and run races. Odds are, the funds taken in will benefit a charity or something bigger than simply running the race and you can get to know other racers. Plus, did I mention they’re more AFFORDABLE? 

4. Grab Your Bib Early. Sounds simple, but you can save BIG if you just plan ahead and sign up for the race as soon as you’re interested. It can be a solid $50 savings in some cases. Check out the race and then COMMIT EARLY.

5. Keep Your Watch Basic. There are tons of fancy watches out there that measure all kinds of things. Personally, my thought is they can get too detailed and if you choose to run where GPS is limited, they might not even be accurate, not to mention the mediocre battery lives that often accompany them. GPS watches are still evolving significantly. Stick to a basic watch for your time and know the splits you want to hit for each mile if you’re trying to keep a certain pace. You’ll save a ton not only in money, but also in frustration.

6. Focus on What’s Comfortable..and Find the Best Price. This is the “grey” area of running. For some, it’s easy to just rely on the running course for water and nutrient replenishment while others would rather stick to bringing their own stuff. That’s ok! Find what is most comfortable for you and stick with it, especially right before a race. Try Camelbaks or other branded waterbelts at the local running store and see how they feel while you train. If the bounce bothers you, try something else. If stuff on your shoulders bugs you, try something else. As a runner in the southwest, I have to say I personally find this to be a worthwhile investment as you’ll have it for a very long time and use it a lot.

Next, check Amazon.com and use Google to your advantage to find the BEST price on the product. Note: if you have a locally owned and run running store in your area, try to support them. In this case, bending the budget might be a worthy compromise.

7. Sign Up for Emails. Whether it’s your local sporting goods store or a running store online, sign up for their emails to alert you when there’s a “buy 1, get 1 half-off” deal or when they advertise discounts on last season’s shoes. Often, it’s better to stick with the model you’re comfortable with anyway, so take note of your favorite make and model of Asics or preferred shoe brand and then shop around. You can save a boatload doing cost comparisons and keeping cost in the back of your mind.

I’m sure there are a million other ways to save money when you’re running on a budget, but those are my best? What do you think–any other tips for me?

Happy running (and saving!), friends!




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