Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pondering a Runner’s Budget

Do you keep a budget?  I do, and it brings me great peace of mind.  I highly recommend it!  More specifically, do you maintain a budget category for your running?  I’ve been thinking about this lately, for two reasons.  1)  I ran two races this year, which is one more than I usually do.  I’m very frugal about parting with my cash for races, even though I enjoy them.  I don’t feel that I’ve been serious enough about my training to warrant more than one race a year, which is my annual Armadillo Dash Half-Marathon.  2)  My friend Tom, who is a very serious runner*, has been making suggestions to me about running in lighter-weight shoes.  He thinks I might not need a stability shoe and that I’d feel faster in a lighter shoe.  He might be right, but I am happy and injury-free in my current Brooks.  Why fix it if it ain’t broke?

New Shoes from the Side

Anyway, I was curious to see how much I’d spent on running this year in the form of gear and races.  Here are the numbers, if you share my curiosity:

* New shoes (Brooks Adrenaline) + FREE t-shirt: $119.08

* Armadillo Dash Half-Marathon race fee: $38.61

* New watch: $31

* Running undergarments: $43

* Solstice Run 10K race fee: $42.95

* Running skirt (I’m super-excited about this one!): $15 (on sale!)

(For the watch, undergarments, and running skirt, I rounded up a tad to include tax.)

TOTAL: $ 289.64

(Or approximately $50/month)

You can see that the most expensive items are my shoes (more than one-third of the budget!) and my two races (coming close to another one-third of the budget).  I’d argue that those items are pretty essential: the shoes for healthy, injury-free running and the races for the fun and motivation they provide.

As for the gear, I think we can all agree that running gear is fun.  Having stuff you enjoy wearing or using is a perk and another motivator—I am way too frugal to buy stuff and not use it, so every time I invest in my running, it adds some fuel to my running fire, so to speak.  I’m actually pretty low-tech as far as runners go—I don’t have a Garmin or a heart-rate monitor (though I have used one before, on loan from a friend), and so far I feel content without the extra technology.  I might invest in a Garmin at some point, though.  I can see its utility in learning to pace yourself and get faster.

For now, I’m not anticipating too much more running-related spending for the year.  I don’t have any races on the docket, and I just bought a bunch of new stuff, so that should last a while.  Also, I’m not sure how much longer I will be in my current job, so I’m keeping an eye on my spending.  I am hoping to stay in my postdoc position for a few more years, but funding issues loom large.  I’m glad that on an everyday level, running is a cheap sport, so I won’t have to give it up even if I’m between jobs for a while!

Do you know how much you spend on running each year?  Do you consciously budget for running-related expenses? 

* As in, he ran the Boston Marathon this year.  And yet, despite his speed, it’s so nice to talk to him about running!


  1. In the past couple of years I have spent a lot more than you. I don't know the exact number, but so far, this year alone (which is a significantly cheaper year than last year for me) I have registered for five races, purchased three pairs of running shoes, and a few new running apparel odds and ends at Target. I also stayed in a hotel for one of my races and flew to one of the others (sort of).

    I advise extreme caution in moving to a more minimalistic shoe, as I'm 95% sure that's what caused my ITB injury last fall.

    1. I've had some ITB issues and I've been running in the Kinveras. Hm. Maybe I should go back to a regular shoe and see if it makes a difference? I thought it was because I had upped my running and cut down on my yoga, but who knows.

    2. Your financial commitment to running is impressive, Raquelita. I have definitely put off purchasing things (like a watch or a running skirt) to keep my running-related expenses down. I have expensive taste elsewhere; I figure I'd better pinch pennies where I can!

      Oh, I'm sad to hear that about the minimalist shoes. ITB issues are so common among runners, too, but I've been lucky enough to avoid that particular injury.

      I suppose it could be all three things, Chrissy: the shoes, increased running, and less yoga. However your ITB issues developed, it definitely sucks :-(

  2. I don't spend a lot on running gear, exactly. I get most of my running duds from Target and Old Navy, on sale, and most of my more expensive stuff (Nike Tempo shorts, Garmin, shoes) I usually ask for as birthday and Christmas gifts, as I'm really bad at thinking of things to ask for and running stuff is the perfect solution. That said, I have seriously cut down on my racing schedule since going back to school. In the two years before grad school, I ran a lot of races, many of which required travel. This past year, I have run exactly one race - and I hemmed and hawed over the $25 fee.

    Running is cheap, if you let it be. But part of the run is the stuff that costs money - races, cute running outfits. I think it's smart to have one or two big races you do each year, and train for and commit to those. I like the camaraderie of races, so I might look into joining a running group here in NC as a cheaper alternative.

    Good post! I need to be better about budgeting. Right now I just keep track of money going out, but I don't have an actual plan or limits in place. One step at a time!

    1. Thanks for reading, my dear! I like your approach to acquiring running gear; I too struggle with giving people suggestions for what they might give me. On top of that, my birthday is only a month before Christmas, so it's like a double whammy!

      I agree that having some money for the fun stuff is important. With budgeting, it's all about balance, right? I think a running group would be terrific. If I were more of a social runner, I'd look into it as well. Since I don't have a car, getting to the group's meeting place would probably require a bike ride or a friend to drive me there.

      Good luck with your budgeting! I find it to be enormously useful because I have a lot of anxiety about money. While I'm concerned about my job and what I'm going to do if I lose it this year, I feel better knowing exactly how I spend my money. If I'm unemployed for a while, I will probably cut back on eating out and buying packaged foods. I've always wanted to make my own crackers anyway... ;-)