Monday, July 21, 2014

Running on a Budget

Whoever said, "all you need to run are two feet and an open road" clearly never went to get fitted for shoes in a specialty running store. Or needed energy gels and KT tape. Or had an unexplained, undying need for shiny medals.

Since registering for the Glass Slipper Challenge last week and thinking about all the things that go along with it (race retreat! costumes! hotel reservations!) my credit card is feeling a little beat up. I'm in awe of people who run all the Disney races or any type of major destination races--how do they afford it all?!? I've definitely had to prioritize and keep my races and running purchases in check knowing that the bigger registrations were coming. Here are some things I've found helpful to keep me on my budget:

  • Actually have a budget. Know how much you can spend on gear, race registrations and shoes. I've also been known to ask for races for Christmas and my birthday, or gift cards to my favorite shops. 
  • Sign up early. My race calendar is planned a year in advance. Sure, there are some smaller races that pop up, but long distances and destinations are planned well in advance. As race dates get closer, prices go up. 
  • Have a race "wish list". Knowing what my dream events are allows me to plan and save up. 
  • Follow race organizations on Facebook, twitter, instagram--everywhere I can. A lot of organizations offer flash sales or holiday discounts. I also watch my favorite bloggers for discounts and add-ons. Races like the Rock N Roll series, the Color Run and the Hot Chocolate 15k series often have bloggers representing them that can save you a little money.
  • Volunteer! A lot of organizations offer free race entries when you volunteer. Even if they don't, volunteering can be a great way to get that race day "fix" even if a race isn't in the books for that month. 
  • Join a running club. My membership to the Atlanta Track Club gives me a discount on races and at local running stores. By the end of the year, my membership has more than paid for itself. 
  • Run local! If your budget is tight, don't get down about not being able to do a destination race. Find a local race that takes you through an area of town you're not familiar with. 
  • Do some virtual runs. Get a shiny medal and t-shirt and run in the comfort (and price range!) of your own neighborhood. I'm really looking forward to running the Celebration Half in Florida virtually. 
  • Check your local running store for free clinics. My favorite Atlanta based store offers free yoga some weekends and has a full calendar of free group runs. 
  • Get your running gear at a discount. I buy at end of the season clearance sales for the next season and try not to make spur of the moment purchases unless it's something I really need. I'm really bad about impulse buys at Expos, so I try and bring cash in the amount I have budgeted and when it's gone, I'm done. 
A penny for your thoughts: how do you save money on the run?


  1. Great tips! I definitely recommend the budget and savings plan for big races! For my first PHM I knew I wanted to have lots to spend at the Expo so for the whole year in advance, I socked away money in a mason jar and ended up with enough to splurge at the Expo AND pay for all our meals on the trip. Running can be pricey but picking the races that are the most important to you is great advice! I'm so sad that I can't run Star Wars at Disneyland this year, but living in Florida I can't make it to the West Coast very often!

    1. Nice saving!! I feel the same way about the west coast races, especially since there were so many fun new announcements this year. But a trip to California for my family from Atlanta is a major undertaking! Hoping to do it for Tink in 2015.

  2. I definitely need to budget better and once I hit my limit, stop spending. This year is only half over and I've already gone far beyond what I usually spend on registrations in a full year, mostly due to Disney. I'm trying to wrap my head around the idea that if I want to travel for races, I have to give up the local ones. I'm not a huge fan of virtual runs. It tends to be about the atmosphere and excitement for me rather than just the medal. I do try to register using discounts and/or do it at expos to avoid the Active service charges. Agree about following the races on social media for discount codes too!

    1. Same here. I got lucky when it came to runDisney this year because I'd deferred from last year, so my registration was already paid for!

  3. The boyfriend and I had a blast volunteering at a half-marathon this weekend-- I think it's made him catch the running bug. It also means we get $40 off (which is a free 10 or 5k) one of their future races. It also meant, for the runners, that their finish line pics are much better! I used a tri-pod, but I also zoomed and focused on people as they came down the chute and passed by the clock. I was so happy seeing the great pics of people posted on the web page. Additionally-- I was cheering ppl on and giving the "thumbs up", but because my hand was in a splint, it looked more like a Hawaiian "hang 10"! It got ppl to smile at the finish line. Mission accomplished!

  4. Such a good way to get that race fix! I'd love to see your smiling face at one of my races :)