The (hidden) costs of taking up running

Often running is touted as a cheap way to get fit but the reality is that it can cost a lot of £££s.

During your first few runs, you may be wearing an old pair of trainers and a cotton t-shirt but it won’t be long before you realise that running in a sweaty top and getting blisters isn’t an enjoyable way to exercise.

First purchase – a half-decent pair of running shoes. These are likely to cost £50 or more but are worth every penny. If you can afford it, go to a specialist shop and get a gait analysis. If not, do lots of research on the internet before committing to purchase. Also, if you’re pounding the pavement regularly, expect to change shoes fairly regularly.

Tech shirts – these are made of special materials that wick moisture away from your body which keep you dry and cool when it’s hot and dry and warm when it’s cold. Try wearing a normal cotton T-shirt for a long run and you’ll need to wring it before too long! Tech shirts tend to cost £15+ and if you plan to run 3 or 4 times a week (and don’t want to be constantly washing them), it’s best to have 3 or 4. It’s worth investing in a range of long and short sleeve versions for different weather conditions.

Running socks – a normal pair of sports socks just won’t cut it! You’ll end up with sweaty feet and that means one thing; a nightmare for any runner – blisters. A far more sensible (and comfortable) option is decent running socks. In the same way that tech shirts work, decent running socks wick moisture away from the skin to keep it dry and cool. Expect to pay £6+ per pair and buy 3 or 4 pairs to begin with.

Shorts – again, tech shorts will keep you cool and dry during your runs. Expect to pay £15 or more and invest in 3 pairs.

Heart rate monitor – to benefit the most from running for fitness, it’s useful to know what your heart rate is during your exercise. You can then adapt your workout to focus on fat burning and improved aerobic capacity, run faster and/or longer (for more information, check out ‘Heart Rate Training Zones‘ and MarathonGuide’s guide to heart rate monitoring). The most basic HRM monitor will cost £40 but you can pay £100s for additional features such as GPS, onboard analysis of workout performance, etc.

Fitness/activity tracking app (if you have an iPhone or other smartphone) – it’s great to be able to track your fitness over time and to be able to share how well you’re doing with friends via Facebook and Twitter. There are a plethora of apps available. The most popular app for the iPhone is Runkeeper. Costing £5.99, it’s not going to break the bank and is well worth this and more. If you’re feeling a little cost-conscious, there’s a free version. Try that first, realise that the Pro version has some excellent features (training workouts, audio stats, integrate ipod controls and others) and then upgrade. 

As you’ll see, the costs soon mount up:

  • running shoes £50
  • 3 x shirts at £14 each = £45
  • 3 x socks @ £6 each = £18
  • 3 x shorts @ £15 each = £45
  • 1 x heart rate monitor @ £45 each = £45
  • Fitness tracking app @ £6 = £6

brining the total to at least £209. It’s easy to spend more and buy more equipment so keep a careful eye on what you’re spending and look for sales etc if you want to run on a shoestring.

Running is certainly much cheaper than a gym membership (and a whole lot more enjoyable in my view) and worth every penny for enjoyable workouts.

2 thoughts on “The (hidden) costs of taking up running

  1. Financials are important to note, but for me the killer the time involved. Trying to balance family time and work time, with time spent on feet is what I often find costly. For everything else there’s mastercard 😉

  2. Hi Simon, I totally agree. With a small family, I struggle to find the hour or so required 3 or 4 times a week and in good weather end up going out first thing in the morning before the rest of the family wake up. The other advantage is that I feel ‘alert’ for the rest of the day.

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