Running is one of the cheapest forms of exercise: as the saying goes — all you need is a pair of sneakers. But running can get pretty expensive over time: a good pair of sneakers often runs $100+, shirts can be $40 or more, and that’s without getting into compression socks, hydration systems, race entry fees, foam rollers, recovery massages, and oval 26.2 stickers.
So we came up with some easy ways to save money on your running hobby/passion/obsession, while still allowing you to indulge in your love of the run. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter how you save money on running!
1. Know the sales. Then shop ’em like they’re hot.
As we said earlier, running swag can be really expensive. Let’s say you go through four pairs of sneakers per year at $125/pair, plus buy two shirts, and two pairs of shorts at $35 per item, and then periodically buy more expensive items like sunglasses, hydrations packs, running watches, and headlamps every few years. Before any incidentals (mid-run smoothies, post-run burritos, etc), you’ll be spending a minimum of $700/year on pretty basic gear. So it can pay to know when your favorite brands run sales, and then stock up on sneakers and gear while the prices are low.
It can pay to know when your favorite brands run sales, and then stock up on sneakers and gear while the prices are low.
So, for instance, Nike runs 20% and 25% off clearance sales about 6–7 times per year, and New Balance runs 15% off promotions once or twice a month. Newton offers 10% off certain shoe types every 2–3 months. Simply sign up for your favorite brands’ emails to stay in the loop. Unless you need the latest and greatest gear the moment it drops, knowing — and shopping — these sales can easily save you a few Benjamins each year.
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2. Use Your Credit Card Wisely
Many credit card companies have online portals where you can earn a few miles or points back on purchases you make through the site. It literally just entails clicking on the vendor icon in the portal, and then purchasing whatever item you were going to buy anyway, using that credit card. You’ll usually see these credits post automatically in your account. These small bounties are typically in the 3–7% range, but if you’re buying $400 of sneakers (using, of course, a coupon code 😉), a 5% referral bonus will mean that you’ll be taking home an extra $20 for about one minute of effort. Imagine all the burritos you could buy with that. 🌯🌯🌯
3. Have an Amex Card? Check out those Amex Offers.
American Express has a program called Amex Offers, wherein they offer random, rotating discounts at retailers like Levi’s, Sur La Table, Warby Parker, and Nike. Typically, the offer goes that if you spend, say, $100 at Wayfair, you’ll get $15 back. It’s not going to pay your rent, but it’s certainly nothing to sneeze at. Plus, these offers stack nicely with whatever clearance sale you opt to shop. The nice thing is, whoever it is at American Express who oversees this program, he or she must have a thing for fitness, as the discounts on offer now (April 2017) feature popular run-tailers like Brooks, ASICS, Reebok and Nike.
4. Book Races Far in Advance
Races can be way pricey — and can, perhaps, be the single-most expensive line item on a runner’s budget. If you know that you’ll be running that sweet race you’ve been dreaming about for six months, go ahead and book as early as possible. Marathons almost always offer early-bird discounts that can easily save you $40 or $50 off the sticker price. Plus, committing to a faraway race earlier will give you more time to compare airfare and accommodation options (whose pricing strategies have been well-discussed elsewhere).
5. Race Discount Codes!
Discount codes are an easy way to save something like 10% off the cost of a race. Some simple Googling can often pull up run-blogger websites that feature race-specific promo codes. Five minutes of effort can easily save you $10 or $15 — that’s, like, a dozen CLIF bars, or three delicious lattes.
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6. Bring friends to Races
Some races offer discount codes if you register a friend, though these discounts vary. If you have a bunch of friends with whom you’ll be running the race, you can also form a team, and request a team-specific discount from the race director. It may not always work, but it’s worth a shot! Plus, as the team organizer, you just may be able to choose the tunes in the carpool on the way to the race. So go ahead, crank up that new Lorde song. You deserve it.
7. Re-examine your gym membership
Okay, so we know this is a fraught topic. But it’s worth seriously thinking about whether or not your gym membership is right for you. If your office has a serviceable gym, or if you don’t live in a harsh-weather climate, or if you focus mostly on outdoor running, or if you have room in the house for a treadmill and barbells, then an $85/month gym membership just may be financially unwise. Your mileage may vary — literally — but it’s worth thinking about dropping that monthly expense.
8. Price-Check Amazon
Have you heard of www.amazon.com? It’s the world largest bookstore, plus, they have a nice selection of, like, everything else on the planet. And CEO Jeff Bezos seems to have plans for other planets, too. What you might not know about Amazon is that they — like the airline industry — also employ dynamic pricing, meaning that the prices of items fluctuate all the time (not just seasonally), and that, despite that crossed-out MSRP text, you’re not always getting the best price. Luckily, there’s CamelCamelCamel. Yep, you read that right. CamelCamelCamel is a price-tracker specifically for Amazon that will chart an item’s price over time. You can also set up alerts that’ll ping you when an item you’ve been tracking drops in price.
CamelCamelCamel is a price-tracker specifically for Amazon that will chart an item’s price over time. You can also set up alerts that’ll ping you when an item you’ve been tracking drops in price.
Take, for instance, the popular Garmin 35. It currently lists for $194 on Amazon — not a bad price. But a quick search on CamelCamelCamel shows that it dropped by twenty-five bucks just three weeks ago, to $170, before bouncing back up again.
9. Music: It’s a Family Affair
Runners usually love — or need — music, and most runners likely use Apple Music, Spotify, or Google Music — all of which are about $10/month for individual memberships. Luckily, each service also offers a family plan, typically for about $15–20/month. So if you have family members who are also music addicts, you can split the plan and pay less, all around. It’s a win-win. Don’t worry, you’ll still hold onto your own login, so no one will see your Best of the 80s playlist.