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Running: The Most Expensive Free Sport

Free! Who doesn’t get excited over the concept of being able to do something amazing without spending a dime? Welcome to running my friend. The act of running is part of our natural human behavior. You can simply open your front door and go. There’s not even a need to know where you’re going, other than to remember how to get back home. There are no membership fees or limited hours of business. It’s just you and your thoughts as you run along your route to anywhere. Who needs a therapist when you can talk to yourself on a trail? There are so many benefits to running, and it’s free!…..kind of. 

As much as running is a natural human behavior, so is spending money. Even though running IS a free sport, we choose to find a million different ways to make sure we spend our paychecks on it. Shoes, tech clothes, wearables, music, race entry fees, and all that extra fuel needed to keep us going.


Shoes: Potentially the most expensive cost of running. Sure, you can get a good pair of running shoes for a reasonable cost, but how often are they getting replaced? The common life of a shoe is roughly 400 miles. If you ran a 5k (3.1 miles) every other day, you would hit 400 miles in about 8 months. A 5k every other day is a very moderate amount of running. That’s about 9-12 miles per week, or shy of 50 miles per month. However, as you get into running you’re likely to step that mileage up. Increasing your running to 5 miles four times a week (20/week or 86/month), would get you to 5 months on a pair of shoes.


Technical Running Clothes: A very common reason for beginners to dislike running is pain. I’m not talking about muscle soreness or joints that are adjusting to a running routine. I’m talking about chaffing. The first time you go for a long run on a hot and humid day sweating like a leaky faucet, then proceed to take a shower you’ll have to make one of two choices. 1. You decide to never run again as you cry from the hot water hitting your newly raw skin. 2. You decide to invest in some clothes designed to pull moisture away from your body and keep you drier. Sure, you could still possibly chaff a bit, but there’s workarounds such as Body Glide for that. One thing is for certain…cotton will no longer be anywhere near your workout gear.


Wearable Tech: What good is it to run 5 miles if nobody knows it happened? You need to tell everyone on their couches eating Cheetos that you’re a smelly sweaty mess, and just how quickly you got that way. A smartphone and good App can take care of most of that. It will provide the GPS data like pace, route, and elevation. However, you’ll need to get a few more items if you want to tell your friends things like your heart rate, stride length, or how “smooth” your stride is. The choice is yours. Either you tell everyone you “ran”, or you show them exactly how you ran 5.3 miles in 59 minutes, at a 11:13 pace, averaging a 156bpm heart rate, and that you burned enough calories to go grab a few donuts guilt free.


Music: There’s a lot of runners out there that prefer not to run with music. I’m not one of those people. If you’re going to run with music, you’ll need to make sure you have a collection of music that fits your running style, such as more fast paced tunes. Maybe a tune meant to simply motivate (who doesn’t want to pick up the pace when they hear the them from Rocky?). Whatever you prefer, you might want to pick up some wireless headphones. Fighting with cables can be frustrating, especially in windy weather. If you get your arm caught up in the cables you may unplug your earphones, or feel like you’ve ripped your ear off.


Race Entries: There are no shortage of running events in this country, and there’s getting to be a wide variety of genres to fall into. Of course there’s still the common road races of all distances, which can benefit charities on occasion. However, those can be somewhat vanilla in the running world. Today you’ll see more novelty races, such as color runs, mustache runs, undie runs, costumed runs, etc. All of which are meant to bring a bit more fun and games into races. Outside of road races, you can move into the trail race world, or the booming obstacle course races like Spartan. Signing up for a lot of races can get expensive, but we’ll do it just for the free shirt and medal.


Fuel: If you’re going to expend all that energy running around, then you’ll have to make sure you refuel to keep your body running. That means you’ll be buying more food. If you’re going to get into extreme distances such as Ultra Marathons, you’ll even need to take fuel with you to consume while you’re running.


All of a sudden this free sport doesn’t look too cheap. I’d mention prices for some of the above, but I don’t want to cry thinking about it. I’ll just go for a run and forget about it!

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