Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Competitive Running Solutions for Tight Budgets

Running a marathon can be found on most bucket lists out there and since you and me both want to some day run an entire marathon, starting to plan ahead on equipment and training as well as marathon entry fees is something not only reasonable but mandatory. It is true that most of us believe running to be one of the most easily accessible sports because it mandates not fixed prices, no out of the ordinary equipment, no gym entry fees or other such costs, and in this you are right. You can be in your twenties, as well as be passed your 50s, it doesn’t matter: running is great and healthy for anyone. 

The issue with running is that when you decide to do it at a competitive level, meaning you are hell-bent on running an entire marathon, quality must trump quantity in anything you chose as equipment. And when marathon entry fees are as high as they are ( $255 for the New York City Marathon last year and $325 for the Caballo Blanco Ultramarathon) justifying such expenses when there are bills and other expenses to be taken care of surely becomes problematic. There are overwhelming lists of running equipment from shoes to GPS devices, special clothing, energy bars, energy gels, electrolyte tablets, iPods, wireless headsets- everything is available not only to make your run more enjoyable but also to reach even deeper into your purse. 

1. Shoes and clothing

Footwear is indeed the number one thing on your list: they come in different colors, shapes, sizes, thicknesses depending on whether you intend on running on grass or asphalt. And as with everything else, with novelty comes price. This year’s models will always be much more expensive than say last year’s ones: so try and buy in the off-seasons because more often than not you will find ridiculous discounts in the clearance sections.

There are also tons of fitness blogs out there such as where you can find amazing equipment prices, tips and other type of information. The key is to be meticulous, search, search and search again because when you know your shoe model and size you can end up covering race entry fees with the money you save on equipment. Be sure to take care of your gear: many runners recommend that you not use the dryer for running clothing, they wear out significantly faster. Just gang-dry them instead, and you will see that they stay in better shape and wear out slower. 

2. Training and instruction

The 2005 New York City Marathon, on Central Pa...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the running novice a few lessons might be needed to get him in the right direction but this can be challenging on a budget. So when a coach is not within your spending limits try to find like-minded people who have some experience and can give you some much needed tips. There are literally hundreds of blogs out there where you can read a lot of useful tips from seasoned professionals and trainers. 

3. Race entry fees

When getting started you might want to consider entering small races which always are more affordable (because organizers want to encourage more people to sign up). Asking for discounts is always a good idea since most of them offer student discounts or discounts for those who are already in retirement.

There are also pre-sign-ups where the fees are usually much lower than right before the race. You also avoid paying extra fees, so get informed and find the “early bird” discounts. And when planning for an expensive race you simply cannot find other discounts for you might find yourself having to pass on some smaller races in order to save up for the more expensive one. Planning is the key. 

4. Non-essentials

GPS devices, protein bars, energy drinks or gels, electrolyte tablets: some racers use them frequently so buying them will prove to be money badly spent. If you are into these items, try to buy them online, in bulk, consider pairing up with a buddy or two and save on shipping expenses.

As you see, with minor modifications here and there, you can surely have the experience of running a marathon and still be able to respect your budget. This does not mean that you cut back on quality, rather you pick the same quality, with no compromise but with a critical eye and some attention. Best of luck to you, be sure to share your times!

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