The cost of running

You don’t need much to run.  A pair of running shoes, socks, some shorts and a t-shirt. Seems simple.  Seems cheap.  But lately I have realized that it adds up. It’s nothing like our brethren cyclists and triathletes pay, but it can cost a pretty penny nonetheless.

Here is what I pay for on an ongoing basis, cost is estimated and averaged.  I shop online and at outlet stores, buying things on sale or discounted.

  • Custom orthotics – $200 every two years
  • Garmin or the like – $350 every two years
  • Trail shoes – $100 every three months
  • Road shoes – $100 every three months
  • PowerBars – 10 a week at $1 per bar
  • Gatorade Powder Mix – a box every ten days at about $5 per box
  • 2-3 pairs of shorts/skirts a year – $25 per pair
  • 2-3 shirts per year – $35 per shirt
  • Socks – $40 per year
  • Sunglasses – $50 a year.  I lose them without fail.
  • Misc. (water bottles, bladders, GU, etc.) – $250 per year (is a guess)
  • Massage – $120 a quarter.
  • Physical Therapy – $300 per year

And then there are the races!

It looks like I will do six marathons or ultras this year, average price is one hundred dollars per entry, which comes to $600 + the two I had to miss = $800 just in endurance events.  I also enter a few shorter runs, with an average fee of $50.  So I am looking at about $1000 just in entry fees.

I tend to do one or two per year where I travel.  This involves the ~$100 race fee, ~$300 hotel for two nights, meals, gas, and in some cases, airline tickets.

I don’t normally think about this too much, but this weekend I signed up for two runs, added “buy new orthotics” to my to-do list, started looking for flights and hotels for my next marathon, gave up on my crap sunglasses, and realized I need new trail and road shoes within the next two weeks. Ugh!  In today’s economy, every penny counts.

I don’t spend much money in general.  I am not a shopper.  I am not extravagant with my cars or my clothes or my vacations.  I know my cyclist and triathlete friends might think, “One set of racing wheels costs more than all your events combined.”  Fair, but I’m not a cyclist.  I am a runner.

I am an endurance runner, which means running shoes must be flexible yet stable, t-shirts must be technical, socks must protect me from blisters, electrolytes must replenish me, watches must pace me, and races must challenge me.  Besides my family, running long is my greatest joy.  When you look at it that way, it’s worth the investment.  Phew! Time to book those flights to Top of Utah, order my new shoes, and get another pair of sunglasses.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Chris Barber says:

    But the value you get back from running for your money you put in is priceless, such as:

    -the feeling of accomplishment you get from attaining a PR
    -the de-stressing you get from running
    -the overall fitness to your body
    -the building of mental toughness which you can take to your everyday life

    Or think about the price you pay by not taking care of your body, becoming injured, and then not being able to run. You could go insane. A couple K is worth your sanity don’t you think?

  2. runrunrunrun says:


    Couldn’t have said it better myself! Thanks for the comment!


  3. Cynthia says:

    We tend to cut corners more than this. Considering the shortage of paying clients these days, it’s a necessity.

    I’ve been having arch pain, so David glued a bit of rubber (made a custom orthotic!) to the insole I’ve been using (Dean Karnazes brand) and may foot feels much better. I bought my last pair of shoes on sale ($65 I think). I prefer cheap cotton shirts (you can soak them with water and keep yourself cool) or just run without! I’m still not convinced any of the nutrition products are worth it (homemade post workout smoothies are great and inexpensive- though I suppose fresh fruit isn’t super cheap either; broth or veggie juice on the run instead of fancy mixes, simple candies or protein bars work too) though I do like carrying a few scoops of cytomax (bought on sale too!) along- it came in handy last weekend after about 13 miles. Professional physical therapy and massages are limited, but do it ourself work and research on the internet suffices most of the time (‘m sitting on a tennis ball due to tight hamstrings!). Of course, I don’t skimp on some things, like Drymax socks, which I think I really can’t do without. It’s not optimal, but not a bad compromise.

    The only road shoes I currently use are the cheapest Adidas they had at Costco (~$35). They’ve been ok, though I am open to suggestions for better road shoes. What do you use?

  4. runrunrunrun says:

    I just bought a new trail shoe. It’s the Innov8 Roclite. I love it! I don’t skimp on shoes, but I buy them at You can usually get them 20-30% off if you are willing to buy last year’s model or colors. Shipping is free both ways and they arrive within 24 hours every time. I get a professional massage every quarter, but I would like to get one twice a month. I pay my kids $1 per 10 minutes to walk on me instead and make great use of my trigger point ball and stick. I also buy all my GUs in bulk. They last forever and the cost per GU is much better. This year I am finding that I don’t spend on anything extra. Like I really want a black pair of Moeben’s, but that has to wait. I seem to have misplace my beloved Buff, but that has to wait too. Oh well. That really is not a sacrifice is it? I am pretty lucky.

  5. Cynthia says:

    Thanks for the suggestion. I like Roclites too! That’s what I use for racing on trails. I’ve also got FlyRocs, which are pretty similar- very light, and a pair of Montrails – not so light but pretty protective. Still not sure about what to use on the road. I used to use Brooks or Saucony, but it’s been a while.

    That must be cute- kids giving you a massage! That’s what husbands are for too!

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