With the recent shutdown of [gestures to entire universe], I found myself thinking about how much money I’m saving by not buying things I normally buy. Unlimited MetroCard for $127? Don’t need that anymore – I have nowhere to go. I’m not renewing my membership to the NYC Rec Centers (which I mainly joined for the pool) so that’s $150 saved. Road races? Remember those? I’m getting refunds for the cancelled ones I already paid for, at least the ones NYRR has offered to refund so far.
I haven’t been running lately – my heels were bothering me so much three weeks ago that I decided to take some time off from running and focus on strength training for the next month or however long it takes to feel normal again (which, if my heels now are any indication, will not be for a long time). This led to the realization that I would be saving money on running shoes, physical therapy, acupuncture, orthopedists, chiropractors, and all of the various home remedies I’ve purchased over the last year in my futile attempts to make my plantar fasciitis go away.
I wondered how much I was saving by not running.
Fortunately, I have records. Since 2015, I have kept a detailed spreadsheet of my expenses and income. I separate columns into different categories, mostly because it’s interesting to see how much I spent on various things and to see how it compares to what I spent the year before.
By the way, keeping track of spending is a great way to save. I have to think before making a purchase: do I really need this? Is it worth it? Can I live without it? I highly recommend doing this. It’s also just nice to know. Isn’t it nice to know things? I think so.
So how much does running cost? Let’s take a look at what it cost me in 2019.
I’ll break this down into categories. I will count everything I spent related to running, including the pool running classes meant to keep me in shape in preparation for the NYC Marathon but I won’t include the swimming classes, as those were just meant to make me a better swimmer.
Paragon Sports: $169.14 – Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19
Jack Rabbit: $341.58 – Saucony Kinvara 10 (green), Saucony Guide ISO 2*
Super Runners Shop: $109.99 – Saucony Kinvara 10 (blue)
Jack Rabbit: $141.53 – Hoka Arahi 3 (wound up as walking shoes but I’ll count it)
Super Runners Shop: $60 – Saucony Ride (older model steeply discounted!)
TOTAL 2019 RUNNING SHOES: $822.24
*this includes socks but I’m not sure how much they were so I’ll keep them here
Note: Super Runners Shop is my go-to running store. Every employee I’ve ever talked to there has been so knowledgeable and helpful. If I ever go anywhere else it’s only because they didn’t carry the specific item I was looking for.
RUNNING APPAREL & ACCESSORIES
Lickety Klip: $23.97 – meant to hide jeans buttons but I use to secure running belt
Paragon Sports: $35 – NYC Marathon singlet
NY Harriers: $60 – singlet & hat
Modell’s: $20 – running shorts
NY Harriers: $70.88 – crop top
Garmin: $32.65 – band replacement
Running Warehouse: $67.46 – running shorts w/ built-in water bottles
Jack Rabbit: $38.10 – foam roller
Finish Line PT: $5.44 – golf ball for feet
Saint Francis Thrift Shop: $15 – NYC Marathon throwaway clothes
TOTAL 2019 RUNNING APPAREL & ACCESSORIES: $368.50
Super Runners Shop: $8.35
Amazon: $65.76 – 3 boxes Gu
Target: $41.31 – lots of Nuun tabs
Paragon Sports: $4.41
Paragon Sports: $32.20
Super Runners Shop: $21.41
Paragon Sports: $13
Jack Rabbit: $5.44
Super Runners Shop: $6
Super Runners Shop: $23.78
NYC Marathon Expo: $55 – 3 boxes Gu
TOTAL 2019 RUNNING FUEL: $276.66
Washington Heights 5K: $31
NYC Marathon: $255
Brooklyn Half : $90
Bronx 10 Mile: $40*
Run As One 4M: $48 ($23 fee + $25 donation)
Percy Sutton 5K: $27
NYRR Team Championships: $10
Pride Run 5M: $18
Mini 10K: $30
Cow Harbor 10K: $28
Northport Downhill Mile: $23
5th Avenue Mile: $25
Grete’s Great Gallop: $18*
Ted Corbitt 15K: $18*
2020 Washington Heights 5K: $26
TOTAL 2019 RACE FEES: $687
*didn’t run due to injury but non-refundable
I’m not counting the Boston Marathon fee, as that will be refunded.
NY Harriers: $45
TOTAL 2019 DUES: $85
FINISH LINE PHYSICAL THERAPY
I spent so much at Finish Line that I’m going to group these all together. I’ll also include the gait analysis I did at the end of the year, as that was meant to improve my running.
3/14: $175 – PT appt.
4/25: $150 – PT appt.
4/26: $145 – massage + tip
9/30: $250 – PT appt.
10/14: $175 – PT appt.
10/15: $10 – AlterG treadmill
10/23: $40 – AlterG treadmill
12/10: $299 – running gait analysis
TOTAL 2019 FINISH LINE PT: $1244
Paragon Sports: $106.18 – bathing suit, cap, pool shoes
Blue Ocean Swimming: $190 – series of pool running classes for NYC Marathon
TOTAL 2019 POOL: $296.18
OTHER SPORTS-RELATED VISITS
Olo Acupuncture: $600 – 10 pre-marathon appointments for my calves & feet
Orthopedist: $43.76 – x-rays
Orthopedist: $181.76 – appt. fee; paid in 2020 but will count it
Orthopedist: $42.29 – more x-rays from that same visit which I received an invoice for in April 2020 for some godforsaken reason
Zen Body Mechanics: $153.63 – sports massage + tip
TOTAL 2019 OTHER: $1276.44
I think that’s about it.
RUNNING SHOES: $822.24
RUNNING APPAREL & ACCESSORIES: $368.50
RUNNING FUEL: $276.66
RACE FEES: $687
FINISH LINE PT: $1244
And that adds up to…
*** $5056.02 ***
In 2019, I spent a total of $5056.02 on running.
A few things worth mentioning:
- I consider myself a “serious amateur” runner and probably take running more seriously than the average casual runner who enters a handful of races a year and runs a couple times a week. I’m by no means an elite athlete (and never will be), but I am guessing that I spend more on running than the average person.
- In 2019, I was in a period where – for the first time in my entire adult life – I didn’t have to worry too much about money. I had a nice amount of savings and didn’t have the constant financial stress that had consumed much of my life up until that point. As of this writing, given that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and the income I was making has shrunk to zero, I am a bit more worried than I was in 2019 when I was able to spend more liberally than I might have otherwise.
- Most importantly, you don’t actually need to spend this amount to be a runner! Especially since at least half of this was spent because of my stupid, dumb, annoying foot issues. If not for that, I would have spent much less. A couple pairs of running shoes (and maybe some moisture-wicking clothes) is honestly all you need.
Now that I know how much I spent, what did I get?
Well, a whole bunch of medals. Race shirts. Lots of bagels and apples and Gatorade. Post-race goodie bags. Cookies. Free samples.
I got to run… a lot. I got to be a part of the NY Harriers, a great group of passionate runners, many of whom have become my friends. I ran many races and learned from each one, whether the outcome was positive or negative. I guess I could say I learned a lot about myself: what I can tolerate, what I care about, how much I am willing to push through pain. I learned I was capable of more than I probably thought I was, as well as far more stubborn than I ever thought I could be.
As a runner, I spend a lot of time with myself. I get to know myself better than I would if I didn’t run. I think through problems, figure out solutions, come up with ideas. I become more confident. Year after year, through running, I become more of who I was meant to be. Running makes me a better person.
So was it worth the cost? For me, it was.
If I would change anything going forward – if we ever come out the other side of this awful pandemic – I think I would like to run fewer races and go to fewer doctor appointments. Focus on quality over quantity. And maybe see if I can get by on less Gu. I bought a lot of Gu.