Running on the Cheap?

Nothing annoys me more than reading an article in Shape or some other mag about fitness on the cheap and seeing running listed as one of the top ways to stay in shape for practically nothing. “You don’t need a fancy gym membership or expensive machinery to run,” these articles claim. “It’s a great way to stay active for virtually no costs!” Right. And wearing Pajama Jeans won’t make me look like a lazy slob who’s given up on my social life.

Running isn’t easy on your knees or your wallet. At the bare minimum, you will need a good pair of running sneakers, which will cost you anywhere from $80-$110. I was running in Champion sneakers from Payless (no lie) until I saw some Reebok RunTones on clearance somewhere. The only reason I bought legit running shoes is b/c I’m training for a 10-miler and the last thing I want is a preventable ankle injury putting me out of commission. I figure you get what you pay for, and good running shoes are worth every cent.

If anyone knows about running on the cheap, it’s me. Before my new kicks, the only things I bought for running were sports bras. If you’re running in some old Hanes-her-way cotton piece from Wal-Mart, you’re not doing yourself any favors. When I bought a sports bra designed for high-impact activity, it was like a switch had been flipped. My chest was no longer bouncing around and sore after my runs. I wasn’t as self-conscious and could run faster. And I’m not talking about $50 bras at some obscure sports shop. I got these at Target and love ‘em. Seriously, throw your tattered old cotton one away - right now.

Besides the sneaks and the bras, the only other thing I’ve really bought for running are some tights (also from Target; their active line is pretty decent). I hate treadmills so I needed to bite the bullet and buy a few pairs if I didn’t want to be stuck inside for half the year. The two wicking shirts I have are from races I’ve done, and I only have a pair of running gloves b/c my sister got them for me for Christmas. So yes - you can run for virtually "nothing." But it probably won't be that safe or comfortable.

After nearly getting hit by multiple cars on my last evening run, I decided that staying alive is probably worth a few bucks. I’d seen reflective vests at sports stores for $30+ but figured I could find one cheaper. I found this baby for $15; with rave reviews and a white color instead of that 80’s neon green, I was sold. While on REI’s site, I decided to look for something to hold my keys. I usually leave them in the entryway of my apartment, under a pile of trash old mail, but after a recent scare (my downstairs neighbor, who fills the entryway w/ a constant stream of debris, decided to do a clean sweep and get rid of everything; luckily, he spotted my keys and left a note for me – an encounter I’d rather avoid in the future) I decided that probably wasn’t my smartest idea. I found this, which claims to be roomy enough for keys and other items while staying snug on your hip without weighing you down. (B called it a mini fannypack, but haters gonna hate, right?)

REI had me at this point and they knew it. All these suggested items kept popping up on my screen and I was trying to shut my eyes and just complete my order when I saw it: a Buff headband. I made fun of my sister for how ridiculous she looked in her Buff - and was eating my words when she loaned me one for a winter run and it shielded my face from the wind and rain. I don’t usually need something for my ears, since I get so hot when I run, but this headband seemed perfect for keeping the sweat at bay during warm-weather runs. And how cute is the blue and green? I had to get it.

Okay, so you don’t need any of these items for running. You can run at night without being seen by oncoming cars, and risk stashing your keys somewhere obvious so you don’t have to tuck them in your bra for several uncomfortable miles - hey Shape, what’s your low-cost suggestion for that?


Yeewuz said…
They're not pajama jeans... They're pajoveralls.
Michele said…
I agree, but I also can see the point that the mags are trying to make. To just 'get out there' and get off the couch, it can be fairly cheap to run (just like I have some students who come to yoga class in PJs... hey, who am I to judge! You are THERE! and that is what counts). As you get into it, you see the benefits of better materials, better gear, etc., but if you just need to get off the couch and get started, it can be a cheaper alternative than the gym.

That being said, give me my $100 running shoes so I dont hurt myself!
brigidmc12 said…
I see the point they're trying to make, and compared to a year-long gym membership, running can be much cheaper. I guess I wanted to rant more about how I never expected to spend $$$ on running stuff, but everything looks so cool that I just want it all!