If you were on the Villanova cross country team back in the early 2000s, you might have known me as “buy one get one” – a nickname that was intended to make fun of me for being “cheap”. I took it completely differently – I have always had a knack for finding discounts or ways to save on the things I really wanted.
For example, when we were given $20 a day for meal money on a trip, I was the guy coming home with $15. I was bringing food from the cafeteria and I was buying foods that I could use for multiple meals. By the end of the season or year, I was able to come home with some money for things that I wanted but couldn’t afford during the school year.
Even though my college teammates considered me cheap, I totally embraced it. I knew then and still know now that I’m not cheap.
I see a good deal on something I want and I get it. If it doesn’t fit my budget, I hold off until it does. This is certainly not a bad thing.
That being said, being a runner can certainly get expensive. Shoes and gear add up quickly, as does traveling and racing. I think just because someone is frugal doesn’t mean they can’t have nice things or do expensive activities. When we/I plan to do something, I make sure it fits into my overall budget and then don’t think twice about the cost.
What is Being Frugal?
Being frugal is the simple act of being conscious of what you’re spending and making sure it aligns with your ethos. Being frugal is different for every person, but for us, it’s making sure we are spending money on what we truly value: our health and our happiness. If it doesn’t tick both boxes, we’re probably not spending a lot of money on it. In our household, we don’t bat an eye at buying running shoes, but we are very thoughtful about purchasing non-running shoes.
Why Be Frugal?
There are a number of reasons why I think it’s enjoyable to be a frugal runner. For starters, I never think twice about buying things that mean something to me. Whether it makes my life or our family’s life easier, it’s a no-brainer. If it relates to running and it’s within our budget, it’s a no-brainer.
Life becomes a lot clearer and decisions become easier to make when you think about purchasing things that may or may not bring you happiness. If it makes me happy, chances are I’m okay with buying it.
Is it possible to be both frugal and a distance runner? #TrainwithMarc is here to tell you resoundingly yes! #runblogTweet
How to Enjoy Frugality as a Runner
Below are some ways that I have found that can help you save money and also keep you happy and healthy as a runner. Saving a few dollars here and there add up over time. And when you have a clear idea about what you value, you can spend more time on the parts of your life that you truly love doing.
Rotate Pairs of Shoes
Running shoes last longer when you do not wear them every day. If you have the ability (funds) to buy two pairs of shoes – same brand/style or two completely different shoe styles – your shoes will have the opportunity to “rebound” and recover while they are not in use.
How to use this in practice? What I’ve done is wear a single pair of shoes for one week of training and then during the next week, I switch to my second pair of shoes and wear them for a week. While I’m wearing the second pair, the first pair is not getting any use and is able to recover.
In terms of longevity, a running shoe may last between 300-400 miles when used as a stand-alone pair, but when coupled with another pair, it could potentially last upwards of 500 miles.
If you’re a healthy runner, meaning you don’t get injured often (boy, am I jealous!) and you KNOW you’re going to run a race, you might as well sign up early and save some money. Races increase their pricing, sometimes significantly, as race day gets closer. Some races, especially the bigger ones will offer BIG codes for registering before the current race has even been run. Think about it: if you like it and know you’ll be doing it, you can save big bucks.
Do you have to run all the races? If you chose half the races you currently ran and spent those non-racing weekends doing long runs or workouts, you might actually get faster and stronger. You’d obviously save on race entry fees and travel costs.
Do you have to have all the newest gear? I am all about having new and quality gear that will bring joy and last a long time, but sometimes having too much is not necessary.
Get Regular Check-Ups
A healthy runner is a happy runner. Just like a car, we need tune-ups every so often, but especially when we’re training hard. There is no right time to get looked at, but if you always wait until you’re injured or run down, you’re missing out on valuable training time.
Last Season’s Gear
Stores, especially running stores, have previous season’s clothes and shoes at a discount. At the Haddonfield Running Company, they have huge “sidewalk” sales where they are selling older gear for much cheaper. Follow your local store on social and find out when their deals are.
Find Promotional Classes
Studios in my area – South Jersey – offer promo classes to “try out” their classes. Sometimes they are free, other times their price is ridiculously reduced. Either way, checking out a few studios a month is a great way to mix up your workout routine, but also to keep the price down on boutique classes. For example, at some yoga studios, there are classes where the instructor is learning/practicing to become a full-time yoga teacher. These “community” classes are most often just as good, and much cheaper than a “regular” class.
Any way you slice it, running is supposed to be an affordable sport that the masses can participate in. After running shoes, gear, and paying for race fees, it becomes a lot more involved. Being a frugal person doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy nice running gear and it certainly doesn’t mean I can’t spend money. No, no. Being a frugal runner is really a great thing. I spend when I value the experience and I make my dollar go a long way.