Inside My Mind / Lifestyle

The Cost of Running TOL #20

So at work on Tuesday, I found a book called “Fitness Running” by Richard Brown, PhD and being the runner that I am, I flipped through it.  The first thing that caught my eye was their recommendation of what to buy (because yes, I have a shopping problem…) and holy moly – it was ridiculous so I decided to share my thoughts for a Think out Loud Thursdays hosted by lovely Running with Spoons!


First let me just say, I didn’t read the entire thing as I was at work but my mind was blown when it stated that in their recommended (I think it was recommended) running gear section he says “the low-end cost for the items I listed would be just a little over $700.  You don’t have to buy all the products, but it doesn’t sound like a lot when you think of it as a ‘health insurance policy’ investment.”

The total of everything he shared was $716 ($736 including a bra) to $2105 ($2180 including a bra) and the list included things like  “sunglasses: $50 to $300,” “running shirts: $20 to $80,” “gloves: $12 to $45,” “sweatsuit top: $40 to $150,” “sweatsuit pants or tights: $40 to $120,” and “rain suit pants: $50 to $70.”

Ummmm is it just me or if I was just starting out with running and saw the range of that cost I’d much rather no follow through?  When did running get to be such an expensive activity?  Yes I have a GPS watch and half the people I know own that super pricey Nike flash jacket but honestly, when starting out you do not need sunglasses that cost $50 to $300! Who wears $300 sunglasses running? Okay so many prescription sunglasses do cost a pretty penny.

When I first started running, I threw on a volunteer cotton t-shirt I got from a race, a pair of shorts I got from Old Navy (for like $15 give or take), and a pair of New Balances that I bought for gym class in highschool.  I googled a route, saw the distance, then started a timer. I did that for months before I upgraded my shoes at a buy one get one 50% sale at Sportchek and split the deal with a friend of mine.  I still wore a plain old cotton tee, my $15 shorts, and went to no gadgets.

Over time, I started accumulating a large collection of running clothes because I bargain shopped (sales and outlets!) and only because I wanted them.  I don’t need  20+ running tops!  Just like you don’t need to spend $700+ on quality gear.

Let me break this down for you if you don’t believe me.  Here’s a little breakdown of what I’ve bought on sale that can last you throughout the seasons.

  • Old Navy Tee (in pink of course…) $19 – 40% off sale that they have pretty regularly $11.4
  • Old Navy Tunic Jacket $$36 – 40% off $21  —> and if this isn’t warm enough, throw an old sweatshirt on top.  Yes it’s nice to have fancy drifit jackets but if you’re on a budget, you’ll be okay.
  • Old Navy Sports Bra $19 – 40% off $11.4
  • Shorts from a Volleyball store that were $12 but I snagged for $5 in their discount bin. $5!!!
  • Sugoi Leggings (okay I pay a lot for these because they’re warm as hell and made in Canada) $90 but there was a sale at Running Room so it was maybe $60-$70
  • MEC merino wool long sleeve $15 – $20

So far, this adds up to $133, not including socks, sports bras, and shoes.  But I already have a shirt and a pair of shorts which it pretty much all I wear all summer (shirt is optional in the summer too…). I also have warm leggings, merino wool long sleeve, and a jacket for the cooler temperature.  And I’m pretty sure with the inclusion of shoes and bras, it’s not going to bump my total up to $700+

This may be seriously oversimplifying running here because there are also things like hats, headlamps, accessories like a foam roller, etc that has to be considered but one’s upfront cost of picking up running should not cost $700+!!!

That’s just my two cents. I was honestly in shock when I read it because if I knew nothing about running and wanted to start but saw that price tag, I would not have started running and not met all the amazing people that running has introduced me to!

So what do you think?  Is $700 a good minimum when picking up running?  What did you run in/with when you started?

<3 Carmy

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24 thoughts on “The Cost of Running TOL #20

    • right? I like my prices too! means I can get more 😉 haha and the quality of sale items aren’t any worse than non sale items with the same brand….

  1. Totally crazy! I question how many beginner runners will even run in the rain or snow – most I know just wait for it to get nice again, or run on a treadmill. So there goes the rain pants and glove requirements.
    I just recently invested in a “really expensive” pair of sport sunglasses for $140, but I ran in $10 gas station ones for 8 years first.

  2. $700 is CRAZY. Like anything, I think the cost of running can expand or contract based on your spending habits.

    I started like you – in whatever old pair of sneakers I had lying around plus whatever other crappy “workout clothes” I had. I upgraded my shoes first, I think that was a $90 purchase but well worth it. A few months later I bought a nice long-sleeve wicking top on sale at Athleta ($40 probably?) and a little bit after that I got some shorts, also on sale, I think $30 maybe. It’s built up from there over the years, but not by much. I’m not into spending unnecessary money on things I sweat in. For me, good sports bras and Brooks shoes are worth investing in, but I just wear the same old shorts and tights and race shirts over and over and over again.

    Race fees add up, but those are optional and can be adjusted to suit your budget and interests. If you stick to small local races you can run multiple races a year for less than $100.

  3. Do I think you need to spend $700 to start? Not at all. Do I think eventually you’ll spend that and more? Yep. But I haven’t received a new piece of jewelry in 10 years, so I’m ok with buying myself running clothes as gifts. ;o)

    • Right?! I mean, we COULD have a more expensive hobby (my exboss’ wife used to ring shop when she was bored!!!) so a cute running top is how we treat ourselves

    • i agree with erika – i’ve spent over 1000 on race fees in a single year (that was a crazy year) and probably hundreds on gear / clothes and shoes. but it’s spread out over time and i certainly didn’t spend that much when i started. i think all you need to start is a good pair of running shoes. 🙂

  4. Um I 110% agree! I never would’ve picked up running if I thought I had to buy such expensive gear from the get-go. Half the people I know got started running because they figured it’s one of the cheapest sports out there 🙂
    Plus, the nicer (read: expensive) things I own now I wouldn’t have needed starting out. 2 running jackets $80-$110? $40 gloves? I wasn’t running outside in the cold weather because I didn’t care enough to. Compression socks & other recovery tools? I wasn’t running enough miles to need them. While I woudn’t be caught dead running outside in cotton shirts/sweats now, there was a time when I relied on old, cheap clothes to keep me warm, & that was enough 🙂

    • For sure! All the fancy stuff we have we usually get over time. Starting out is the bare basics! And plus, running changes your body and I would cringe if I bought expensive “rain suit pants” that didn’t fit a few weeks later!

  5. That’s ridiculous… especially for a beginner runner. I mean, sure, it can add up to that much over time, but from the start? Basically anything works. Just lace up and go. You don’t have to buy all the fancy equipment straight out of the gate… just use whatever you have on hand and add to your collection as you go.

  6. That is CRAZY! When I first started running I just used what I had. Over time as I started to learn about things, I purchased things that I desired. I didn’t need them to be a runner but I wanted them anyways. There s no need to go that crazy especially if someone is just starting out running.

  7. This is just silly. When I started running I was like you and wore a cotton shirt and cotton capris! I also wore some old tennis shoes I had around from back in the day. I made it through the entire Couch to 5K with that fancy uniform! 😉 My total cost was $0 since I had all those things already.

    Even though I now buy more expensive running related items and I probably wouldn’t recommend running in cotton to a beginner … I don’t think $700 is necessary! For instance you can buy $7 moisture wicking tops at places like Ross and TJ Maxx…. and who NEEDS $50 sunglasses? You can pick up a visor for like $5 if you don’t already have one.

    I guess it all just comes down to whether you WANT to spend that kind of money or not. If you don’t you can find ways around it.

  8. This is interesting. When I ran my first half marathon, I wore sports bra capris from aeri and a pair of 10 years old New Balance from university. The shoes of course didn’t fit but I didn’t have issues until I started running regularly after the first gong show. I invested in running shoes and a GPS watch so that was about $250 and I was thinking, “I thought I could run in my PJs why am I spending all these money?”

    Spent a bit more running in the winter, I used the Resolution Run jacket which came with the $50 entry fee and got the rest of the clothing from outlet. But not everybody wants to and is willing to run in -30c!

  9. Yeah it’s ridiculous to say that to a beginner. Granted, once you get addicted to running, and add in multiple pairs of shoes (one for the road, one for the trail, one for speed work…) and then race entry fees and GPS watches and…you get the idea. Holy cow running *CAN* be expensive! But it certainly doesn’t HAVE to be!

  10. Running can be cheap, it also can be expensive, it all depends on the individual, and their needs vs their wants.
    I like to buy my stuff when it’s on sale. I mean who doesn’t like a bargain!

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