Running is touted as being a super cheap sport. On one hand, it is. No gym fees, no monthly payments, no feeling of having wasted money if you don’t go.
HOWEVER. And this is a big however. As soon as you start taking it seriously and get over excited about decent kit and races and technology, it quickly becomes not cheap.Trainers, summer kit, winter kit, autumn kit, wet weather kit…multiple pairs of shoes, garmin (s)….then you start branching out into triathlons and it’s a whole new kettle of fish!
The reason I’m writing this is because I just shelled out on a new pair of trainers, and didn’t really bat an eyelid at the cost, easily acknowledging that they were worth it because of the amount of wear I get from them. But, it doesn’t all have to be flashy. There a places to splurge and places to save, and you really really don’t need everything under the sun to take up running.
Trainers. I mean, you could get a pair of trainers for £20. They might fit. They might not. I know what shoes suit me and fit me, and unfortunately, I can’t usually find them in sports direct for £30. If you’re going to invest, this is the area to do it. You want something that fits your feet and suits the amount of running you do. However, do shop around – find a pair that suit you (go for somewhere with gait analysis) and then don’t impulse buy – have a look online, find the same model in an earlier version or a previous season’s colours and you can easily drop £20-30 off the price.
Worryingly, despite spending all that money, I’m getting pins and needles just like I did in the previous pair I couldn’t get along with. SIGH.
Problem here is that you then start to need multiple pairs of trainers for different activities. OK OK, you don’t actually need them as such. Well, you kind of do. But you can get away with just one pair. But they WILL need replacing on the regular!
Sports bra. I mean this is basically a necessity. I 100% do not buy new ones as much as I should. I have around 10 Shock Absorbers in rotation. Each one is about £30. That is a lot of money’s worth of sports bras. But I am not going cheaper. I do not trust a sports bra from H&M thank you very much.
Club subs. OK, I said it’s not like a gym in that there aren’t regular fees, but if you want to join a club, you have to pay up. However this is generally pocket change, with most clubs charging £20 or less FOR A YEAR! England Athletics affiliation is a bit more (but, you then get £2 off race fees so typically 6 races in a year makes it financially viable, plus you can enter cool running club events like FREE cross country), plus then anything else your club sessions might cost (i.e. track use)
Pants. I do not see the point in spending lots of money on pants. That is why my ‘running pants’ are an amusing story in my family. I once tied a pair together at the side when they split at Thunder Run. I have not thrown them away. This is ridiculous because I bought 5 pairs for £2 in Primark.
Socks. I um and ah about socks. I have special ‘race socks’ which are my more cushioned, thicker, comfier ones, that naturally, cost more money. And I like them. But for daily use, I don’t think you need to spend £££ on one pair. Get a Decathlon multipack.
Races. I mean this is pretty simple, don’t pick a massive race and you won’t pay a massive fee. I mean you don’t even have to race. But I guarantee an adventure race or themed race will cost you way more than a local 10k. Maybe when you start out, the big, expensive races seem more appealing, because the reason they are more expensive is typically bigger locations (therefore higher running costs) and nice gimmicks to try and make you forget you are actually running. Use simple race finders like on fetcheveryone and Runner’s World to find some local races near you and support your local running economy – you’ll also find a lovely sense of community and friendliness. If you want a cheapie, try parkrun – you can’t get much cheaper than free!
Leggings. I mean I have a range – £10 from Sports Direct up to some pricey 2XU compression ones. My favourite are mid-range, Ronhill, decent size pocket, good length, don’t rub, right temperature. Decathlon have some great bargains.
Tops. My only priority here is wicking fabric. Look for races that include a tshirt in the fee, then it’s a win win situation! You don’t have to spend a ton on tops – yes, things like Lulu & Sweaty Betty may look nice, but to be honest,you’re running.It doesn’t realllly matter. Most of the cheaper places now have started doing great designs as well, from your traditional sports shops like Decathlon to places like New Look branching out into fitness, so if looking good is your priority, shop around.
Jackets. I don’t think you need to spend 3 figure sums on running jackets unless you live somewhere where it only ever rains and it’s always about -3 degrees.If you do, then it’s probably a good thing to invest in. Otherwise, get something showerproof and bright for dark nights.
GPS. I love Garmy. I spent a fair amount of money on Garmy. (You can tell my appreciation by the fact he has a name and is a proper noun) But you don’t have to – there are a ton of free apps that will do your basic measurements for you (see, Strava – other apps are available) But I don’t always carry my phone, and if I do I never look at it when I run, and Garmy does underwater and transitions and intervals and heart rate and sleep and steps and elevation and tells me when I’m going too slowly and does EVERYTHING I EVER NEED IN LIFE. So if you are a data geek and want to have an immediate idea of your performance, this is an area to splash out. But there is such a price range on GPS, so you just need to work out the minimum of what you need.
Accessories. This depends on what you need. If you are commuting, a specific running rucksack is something it’s worth investing in. Otherwise they chafe like hell. If you’re running a lot in the dark, a decent headtorch is probably worth your while. Then you won’t fall down any holes. Gloves – you can get away with 2 pairs for a pound from Primark until it starts to get really cold and rainy, then I would maybe look at something better.
Physio/Sports Massage. Ah yes, when things go wrong. As someone who has had their fair share of physio sessions, let’s just say I’m glad it was covered through health insurance because central London physio prices are not the most kind on your wallet. HOWEVER, I would still have paid for a fair chunk of this myself because it’s important to me. I’ll forego a nice dinner out to get to the bottom of my niggles. As for massage, massage is great – see if you can find someone training/studying (ask at local colleges, they will always need guinea pigs) as it is bound to be cheaper, grab yourself a foam roller from Amazon, OR, just buy a lacrosse ball for a few quid and sit on it.
I think there is a lot about balance – once you start running, you may find yourself spending less in the pub and less going out for dinner. Therefore, NEW RUNNING CLOTHES! I have a weird mentality that buying running clothes is never a guilty habit because I guarantee I get use out of them. This is probably why my boyfriend is fed up of me only wearing running clothes or rotating through several outfits and proclaiming “I have nothing to wear” yet refusing to go shopping for ‘normal clothes’.
However what I do love about running is the ease – once you’ve got your trainers on, off you go and the world is your oyster. Just gotta buy those trainers first!
What is the one thing you will always splurge on?
Biggest running-related waste of money?