Athletics Magazine

6 Ways Runners Can Save Money

By Brisdon @shutuprun

The idea for this post started in the most unusual of ways.

Yesterday I could no longer take the ugly- ass look of my feet, so I splurged and went in for a pedicure. To a runner I am convinced there is nothing as heavenly as someone rubbing your feet. The result was fantastic. I will never have pretty feet, but I redeemed them somewhat:


Then, guess what? Today after my swim my big toe felt funny. It felt funny because the freaking big toe nail was separating itself from the rest of the toe (damn anti-social toenail).  So, you mean to tell me that I – queen of frugal-ville – splurge on a $25 pedicure only to have it sabotaged the very next day by a toenail malfunction? No way, sister. This cannot be.


So, I did what any person in my shoes with this type of FWP would do. I crazy-glued the nail back on. Voila – $25 saved. Brilliant.

This got me to thinking about the other ways that we runners can be frugal. If anyone tries to tell you that running is inexpensive because all you need are shoes and shorts, punch them in the crotch. Running is a money sucking pit. There are entry fees, watches, shoes, shorts, shirts, bras, gels, fuel belts, and hats. Don’t even get me started on 13.1 and 26.2 stickers, massages, pedicures, crazy glue and compression socks.  And, if you are really hard-core, there might just be a tattoo involved.

So, how can a runner girl or guy save a buck or two, aside from gluing on your toenails? Here are 6 sure fire ways:

1. DIY Arm Warmers: Arm warmers are not cheap. I am not sure why two little sleeves that cover you from your armpit to your wrist cost $25, but they do. A couple of years ago I was training for the Boulder 70.3 and went to Breckenridge for the week. Being summertime, I forgot my arm warmers, but knew I would need them since the early mornings in the mountains can be about 35 degrees. I went to Wal-Mart, bought a pair of ugly men’s black socks, cut off the socks at the ankles and PRESTO, I had a new pair of arm warmers (see full tutorial HERE).










Total cost? $2.50.

This would also be a great idea on race day. Wear your socks arm warmers at the beginning when you are nipply, then just toss them aside later.

2. Find Shoes Online: Never pay full price for shoes. Go to your local running store where your shoes cost a million dollars, find the right shoe and fit and then come home and find them online and get free shipping. I know I am not supporting my local running stores. Sorry. But I buy other stuff there, I promise.

You can usually save quite a bit this way. Places like and usually have coupon codes. Road Runner Sports also has a great VIP program which gives you lots of discounts.

3. Substitute Gels/Chews/Energy bars: At $1 a piece, gels are expensive. Same with those fancy chews, chomps, Bloks and energy bars. Try replacing these treats with candy like jelly beans, Dots (my favorite) and gummy bears. Consider making your own protein bars (some good recipes HERE). Some people recommend eating honey or jelly instead of gels, but that kind of grosses me out, personally.

Just be aware if you substitute, you may be not getting the same number of electrolytes and sodium, so be sure to factor that in.


4. Eliminate or Lessen Race Entry Fees: Race fees have gotten out of hand. The only reason I don’t race more is I can’t stinking afford it. You can offset race costs in a few ways. Consider volunteering at a race you want to do in the future. A lot of times you will be comped a race entry the fee will be discounted. If you have a blog, write the race director and ask for a comped entry in exchange for your review of the race. I did this last year when I wanted to do a 70.3 race in Denver. It was $200 so I asked the race director if he could reduce the fee if I posted something on my social media sites about the race. He gave me 50% off. Also, look at Groupon and other online sites for coupons and deals.

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5. Stop Getting Hurt: Injuries are expensive. They require lots of acronyms like PT and MRIs. They often involve massages, crutches, boots, psychotherapy and pool memberships (because this will be the only activity you can do). By-pass all of these expenses by not getting hurt in the first place. This is easier said than done from someone with quite the laundry list of running injuries.  My best advice is simple - Take your recovery very seriously. Cross train. Take rest days. Vary your runs – some days are speedy some days are long run pace. More injury prevention tips HERE.

An injured runner watching paintballing. No fun. And, expensive.


6. Give Shoes Some TLC: Can you believe we are supposed to replace shoes every 400 miles or so? I’m not always the best about doing this, since I don’t keep OCD track of how many miles are on my shoes and I tend to rotate lots of different shoes (trail, track, etc.). It’s probably a good idea to grab a Sharpie when you get new shoes and just write the date of purchase on the side of the shoe.

I do know that to prolong the life of your shoes you can do a couple of things – 1. only wear them to run, not to walk around Forever XXI for 2 hours or traipsed around Disneyland for 3 days 2. store them in a cool/dry place. When shoes get too hot or cold they can break down more quickly. 3. Don't put them in the dryer. 


There you go. Now just take all the money you save and send it to me so I can buy some things for myself.

Do you have any other money saving tips to add?


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