How to Stretch Your Running Budget
Running is a great sport for tons of reasons. It is one of the best ways to burn calories and lose weight quickly and efficiently, it can be done indoors on a treadmill or indoor track when the weather gets bad and taken outside just about anywhere that is safe and has available trails, roads, and sidewalks, it can be done alone or with a friend (and the running community and support group is FANTASTIC!), and it is relatively cheap. Other trendy forms of cardio like spin classes, boutique exercise gyms, and even indoor swimming in an Olympic sized lap pool often come with hefty price tags and membership fees. (Not to mention, you could feel pressured to dress and look a certain way and wear a certain expensive athletic wear designer in those classes.) But running, aside from the money you spend on a decent pair of shoes and making sure you have the right clothes for the temperatures and conditions you are running in, can be pretty cheap and manageable. Here are some ways you can stretch your running budget even further.
To protect your skin from painful chafing that tends to happen when sweat mixes with cheap elastic bands, (aka when you run in a cheap sports bra or elastic shorts or tights) you will need some quality running gear. Even if you are running just a few miles here and there, it is worth it to keep your skin from chafing and to be comfortable (and not to mention supported, especially for us ladies when it comes to finding the right sports bra). Unfortunately, most high-end designer running brands that are high quality can also be quite expensive. But they really do last a LONG time, so wearing hand-me-downs does not necessarily mean you are wearing clothes that is ‘too’ used and won’t function well. Enter in your friendly town’s consignment store. A lot of these stores are stocked with excellent active wear from folks who just got tired of their expensive brands, or maybe they just decided they did not want to run anymore and these clothes were simply taking up space. Whatever the reason, it is definitely worth a trip to peruse the aisles and see what you can find. Often, you can get items for WAY cheaper than you would if you bought them in stores or online for full price. Don’t be afraid of showing off your new threads, either! Just because you know that someone else wore them first doesn’t mean that anyone else would!
So obviously this does not just apply to running, but it is definitely worth noting how much cash you can save when you plan ahead, map out your meals and nutrition needs for the week, grocery shop, and spend a bit of time prepping everything (your life is crazy enough as it is and putting a bit of effort on the weekend to streamline some of your food options will just make your life that much easier!). Running requires additional nutrition needs that your body might not be used to or otherwise need if it weren’t being so active. The last thing you want to have happen is not plan enough in advance to make sure you are fueling yourself with hearty, wholesome, and healthy options throughout the day and end up ordering everything you can at the drive thru window. Not only does that hurt your progress toward properly fueling your 4 am long run, but repeat offenses will leave your wallet crying (and even if you might think you are being smart by sticking to the dollar menu, those little expenses add way up and before you know it, you have blown your entire week’s grocery budget in just four days!). Meal planning helps you make sure your body has the nutrients it needs, and having pre-prepared snacks on hand keeps you from going hungry and from overspending money on food. Plus, you can use it as a creative outlet! Buy fruit and veggies that are in seasons to both save money and get creative with your meals. It will help make sure you look forward to your next healthy meal and you can feel good knowing you definitely are saving some money!
To Gym or Not to Gym?
So you could choose to not join a gym and save some money on a gym membership, and opt to just run outside instead. And that’s perfectly fine! You will probably run into some hiccups though. If the weather is ever bad, if you only have time to run when it is dark, and you only want to run with a buddy, then you are probably going to have to skip out on some workouts every now and then and that might get old. But if you are okay with it, then do it! For the majority of us though, we are not going to want to feel so out of control of our running schedules and have to cancel our workouts just because of some rain. Fortunately, generic gyms with treadmills and basic cardio equipment typically run WAY cheaper on monthly memberships than trendier fitness classes and boutique gyms. And if you have a family or a significant other that are also interested in joining, you will often get cheaper membership rates. But it is likely that ANY gym membership is going to save you more money than trying to purchase your own treadmill (albeit sometimes the privacy of running in your own home with no one else around can be absolutely glorious!)