The Cost of Running & How not to Out Run your Cash!

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I love running. Running to me is as essential as air and water. If you have problem with my running, changes are I have already figured a way to keep you outside of my safe space. Finding my passion for running last year has been the best thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life! It is a bold statement, but that is just the way I feel. Looking back, the reason I got so passionate about running and the key things that helped me refine my learning and training to run better has been to run races on a regular and frequent basis. Last year I ran close to 24 races in the span of about 11 months. That is about 2 races per month. In fact, running every other week at a race, helped me seek for help and seek for knowledge on how to run better. Its that pressure to race better that helped fine tune my running skills and kept my passion up with it!

Last month, it seemed like everything that could go wrong went wrong, and all of a sudden I ended up with a $1000 expense that I wasn’t expecting.  That put me on a spot to figure my life out a little bit. Here I am in my 40s, learning lifes way on my own term. Thank god for youtube, and suze orman and dave ramsey – the last few weeks I have listened to enough videos to get some sense into my little head.  Mind you, I read Suze Orman’s book back in 2007 and I knew I need to put money down for 401k which I had done since then. Outside of that I never put so much thought into saving or investing. Anyways, this thousand dollar unexpected expense pulled me back a little back to focus on the hard topic at least for me – money.

As I started to go over expenses for last year, and try to find money and opportunities to savings, one of the item that popped on top of the expense category was ‘health and fitness’ – which is the race entries + road runner purchases + monthly gym payment. After several review, I knew I had to make some changes, and this blog is to help explain my view of this topic. Mind you, my passion for running and race hasn’t changed, but the way I go about them has in a way!

The Cost: Shoes

The biggest cost as a runner last year for me, was shoe purchases. I ran close to one thousand mile, and I bought about 4 pairs of shoes through the year. It amounted close to $700. Looking back, these are things I should have done differently.

  1. I should have bought shoes at better discount, or lightly used shoes they sell at a steep discount.
  2. I also feel that I should have gotten little more better mileage out of the shoes I owned, however, being the beginner runner, I ran wrong and wore them down bad and at times I couldn’t tell if I was injured or my shoes were bad.
  3. I do think running lot of mile age does wear the shoes down, so I am learning to run just enough, and not out run my shoe mileage. It sounds silly but if it means one less shoe purchase, I think it will be worth it!

The Cost: Race Registrations

This was one of my biggest expense, the registration fees. the 5ks usually averaged about $35 to $50. Half Marathons I ran ranged from $65 to $120. Some registrations I was smart to register ahead of time to get a better deal, and some races I registered last minute since I found out others were doing it and I wanted to run as well. It ended up costing me more. The 20+ races last year would have cost me about little over $1500. I am not regretting spending that money and being my first year I feel this was money well spent and I got so much value out of it. But as my reader reading this blog, I will give you few advise on this that I will be following this year. (my 2nd year of running) – learn from my experience.

  1. Going in set aside how much you want to spend on racing this year. make sure you track these expenses each time you register. When you see a RNR Los Angeles on sale at $55, you don’t realize its actually $65 with registration fee and everything. So it slowly adds up. 10 races in, you are already over $700 to $800s. So write down your registration fee and go back and check to make sure you don’t over spend.
  2. AS a rule of thumb, don’t race any race that costs more than x amount of dollar. My X – is about $85. If a half marathon is $90, I am not signing up. no thank you. Find your X, and stick to it. It helps a lot. You can scope out discount codes for registration.
  3. Make sure to pick few key races to run each year, and stick to them. Don’t get swayed by every other race that pops up in your neighborhood. For me, in OC, its the Long Beach/SurfCity/OC races, and if you don’t mind the drive, San Diego’s Carslbad/La Jolla/AFC – this should give you enough races through the year, and you could spend less than $600 and still manage to run all these races.
  4. Follow all the running blogs you can, as the bloggers get free give always they have to give close to last months of races, so if you get a free entry – you could still race more but for free.
  5. Don’t do last minute races. Its like burning cash!
  6. and Look for local races, that cost  pennies, but still provide you with same race experience. I ran a ShoreLine Pride Run 5k for $25, that was one of the best runs of my entire year. I ran a $20 run for a charity in fountain valley and one of my memorable runs! So look for local races.

The Cost: Racing with Friends

I didn’t realize this initially, but eventually caught on to it. AT times I had been the instigator, and at other times I got carried away by someone else’s plan to run a race, that I wasn’t originally interested in. So when you have friends that run or race, keep your goals in mind, and learn to say no. When I started to register for races initially , I would be super generous and would sign up my friends because I thought I found a good deal that they shouldn’t pass up. The end result, I ended up spending $$s for them that I never got back from them.  It was my own mistake, and I shouldn’t have offered to pay for others, but that is a lesson you learn once, especially with new friends. I no longer do that anymore. Also, I ended up signing up to run a triathlon relay, which ended up costing little over $300 for me. That is a mistake I only make once. It was a good experience, but looking back, I could have had the $300 for myself! So what are my lessons!

  1. If you have friends that race, you don’t have to race every race they do. Just stick to your own races. Be happy for them, but don’t offer to run with them.
  2. Don’t ever offer to register others, in the hope they would pay you back! Never! You will lose the friends(which I don’t regret one bit – I don’t need that kind of people in my life), and your money.
  3. Going into running, always remember running is about your personal goals, not a group or friends goal. It will help stay focused.

The Cost: Racing Logistics

Account for cost associated to racing logistics. Did you know I paid about $25 parking fee for a San Diego race because I didn’t know where to park for free. Most races expect you to pick up bib the day before or pay $20 to have it mailed. If the race is far – like for me in San Diego, its about half a day of your weekend, and back and forth drive/gas money. For OC Marathon weekend, its about $8 parking fee to pick up bib, and another $8 to $10 to park on the race day. So it all adds up. What would I do differently?

  1. I signed up for San Francisco Marathon, but understanding my budget issue, I decided not to run the race. I lost a $100 registration fee, however, I ended up not spending flight/hotel bills saving about $300 at least. Know what you can afford, and don’t sign up for races where you don’t know how the parking and driving situation will work out.
  2. Try to Carpool. I have offered to drive my friends and at times I have asked to carpool with friends. Pay for their lunch or ask to share gas money/parking fee. It will still save you some money.
  3. If you know friends stay at their place, or like me – learn to plan and drive in the morning of the race for LA or SD races. I have driven to Ventura for a race from Irvine once. The longest of my drive, but It was fun!
  4. I sure like running scenic routes for my training runs, but I have convinced myself to run close to my house to skip the drive and gas expense at times, and I find myself doing that more often! A run is a run, and save the scenic route for special days! I don’t mind a drive upto BackBay from my house in irvine, but a drive to Seal Beach or Long beach for a training would make me think twice!

Don’t Out Run your Cash

Running and Racing is very special and personal. I wouldn’t have changed anything that I did last year, but for this year, I am conscious of how I spend my money towards races and Running in general. If you are wealthy and can afford, by all means, run and race as much as you want. But if you go from pay check to pay check, or don’t have savings or don’t have a 401k to your name or not on your way to buy a house at some point, you are better off  putting the race money down for all that life’s wealth generation rather than racing.  If you don’t own a home, remember each $ you are spending on races could potentially be your down payment! If you are saving to buy a home, the extra $1000 could get you a better house. So think of all that before signing up for races. I want everyone to race, but don’t race your pocket book. As far my last month’s personal situations, I will still stand when the dust clears! Thanks for reading and now run and race smart!

6 thoughts on “The Cost of Running & How not to Out Run your Cash!

  1. I try to calculate how much I spent on races each year and it ended up being around 800 dollars. It made me realize that I had to start seriously picking and choosing the races I run. I don’t run anything shorter than a half anymore unless it’s a really good deal. Great job analyzing your purchases and thanks for the tips. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. great tips Mahesh. You just pointed where and what need to be focused and can be related to any hobby or extra activity we pick up. Thanks for sharing. – Usha

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Running can be a fairly inexpensive hobby, depending on how much you run (so how many pairs of shoes you need over time), how many races you run, and how far away the races are from your home. If you just run 20-30 miles/week and only run one or two local races, it’s possible to keep your annual running costs pretty low. This is a good reminder we all need to assess our budget before taking on more than we can handle financially.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very true. I just didn’t realize how the cost of racing added up. one good thing I didnt mention in the blog, the year before I spent close to the same $$s eating out/wine tasting/alcohol. Running did force me to reduce the amount of eating out and alcochol/wine. 🙂 what is your typical running budget.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good point that running reduced how much you ate out. Ah, my running budget is high because of my goal to run a half marathon in every state. I’m down to the final 10 states now, and I’ll have to fly to all but one of them, so I have airfare, hotel, rental car, eating out, etc. expenses. That being said, I limit my races to 3 a year and don’t run any other races than these half marathons. My husband and daughter also go with me and we have a vacation afterwards, so looking at it from that perspective, my actually running costs (versus vacation costs) are pretty low!

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