Of all of the athletic endeavors one can choose, running has been considered an inexpensive sport. Basically all one needs is a good pair of shoes, socks, a T-shirt and a pair of shorts. Consider the equipment needed to outfit a football player or a hockey player. Perhaps the most expensive of all sports is Equestrian. The expense to board and feed a horse is pricey, let alone the rider!
With the advent of technology in the last 10-15 years, the cost of running has gone up. Shoes have become high-tech and if you desire the latest GPS system to track your efforts, routes and workouts, you can spend a small fortune. If you consult a nutritionist, hire a personal coach or see a massage therapist a few times a month, the cost to run may require you to take a second job.
But if you stick to the basics and take a practical, old-school approach, running can still be an inexpensive sport. So, here are some running essentials that every runner should have that do not have to necessarily be expensive or high-tech.
Let’s first start with the most important necessity, the shoes. If you are an average runner who runs at least 30 miles (50K) per week, you’ll need to plan to go through 4-5 pairs of training shoes in a typical year.
If you go after a high-end shoe that most shoe companies advertise, you may end up spending $700-900 on training shoes in one year. I recommend that you consider hitting the outlet stores or the on-line running stores to find a medium-priced shoe. Instead of paying $150 for a high-end shoe, look for a bargain shoe for $50-70 a pair and get two pairs. This way you can break in the first pair and then a few weeks later rotate with the second pair. You can easily save $300-400 a year by being a wise shopper. First find the shoe that will work for you and see what you can find on the internet or at your local outlet. If you find a great deal on a pair you like and can afford them, buy 3-4 pairs. At worst, it might mean you go through the shoes quicker and need one or two additional pairs, but you’ll come out ahead and save your feet.
Perhaps the next potentially expensive running essential is a time piece. With GPS watches becoming the norm these days, one can spend several hundreds of dollars on one of these multi-functional time pieces. It is not necessary to always train with a GPS watch if you regularly work out on a track or an accurately measured course. One can still find a watch with chronograph feature for less than $30. It just means you have to take more time in evaluating your effort in your workouts.
Running shorts and shirts can be pricey if you always have to have the newest style. Again, look for sales and internet bargains. If you are spending more than $75 a year on shorts and shirts, you’re paying too much. Heck, if you are racing a few times a year, the shirts one collects at races should lower this cost.
It is the cold weather gear that can be costly. I tend to go with good quality gear and you can find deals during the summer when companies are trying to move out the old stuff from last winter for the new gear arriving in the fall. You should be able to get by on about $100 year for your cold weather running gear if you shop around.
One cold weather essential that you can get by on the cheap are gloves. Here in the South, we do not get the extreme cold like other parts of the country so one does not need to spend a bunch on gloves. Check out a dollar store or even a hardware store. I once found gloves in our school colors for $1.00 a pair at Target! I’ve also been known to get by at times using a pair of socks.
The next few items are pretty low-tech, but every runner should have as part of your running essentials. The first item is a piece of rope that is between three and four feet in length. You can go to a hardware store to purchase for probably less than $2.00 and you use the rope for stretching after your runs.
Another essential running item is a tennis ball. If you frequent a neighborhood tennis court, you will likely find a lost tennis ball at no cost. I have used a tennis ball before and after my runs to work out my arches and tendons in my feet. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, another inexpensive essential is a frozen water bottle to roll along the bottom of your foot.
Running does not have to be an expensive sport if you stick with the essentials and shop around.