How Expensive is Running, Really?

Running is not a cheap sport, but how expensive is it? I ran the numbers and found just how much running costs me per year.

Sure, throw on your gym shoes and go for a run, and that’s inexpensive exercise. But as soon as you cross over from casually running on occasion for funsies to running for sport, it is no longer a cheap endeavor. I feel like I am constantly buying something for running. Not that I’m complaining! Because I would love to buy all the running clothes and gear and toys. So for the sake of curiosity, I just had to know how much I spend in a year on running. Is running as expensive as I think it is? I ran the numbers and found just how much running costs me per year.

Shoes = $200

I run just shy of 1,000 miles per year, which means I’m changing my shoes out about two-three times a year (every 350-400 miles is recommended). Last year, I bought two pairs of shoes. The first was an older model of my shoes and on sale for $90. The second pair of shoes were the brand new model, but thanks to a store discount they were about $110. Finding a deal or buying an older model is key to keeping this price down.

Bra = $105

I wish that I could get away with a $15 sports bra from Target, but my chest dictates that I wear a very supportive, bullet-proof, bounce-proof, anti-chafe machine of a sports bra. That means a $50 bra. According to this article, you should change out your sports bra every six months, and if you’re training for a marathon, every three months. Eek! Honestly, I was a little behind on this advice, so I just bought two new sports bras. The bill came to $105.94.

Race Fees = $205


Races are so much fun and totally worth doing. They are what keep me motivated to stick to a training plan. I know that a lot of people run more than two races a year, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around that. Not only because of the training time, but the cost. I signed up for the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon early, and I still paid $120. That doesn’t include the hotel, parking, and other travel costs*. The other race I signed up for came to $85–it really helps to sign up for races early to save money! Another way to save on race fees is by signing up for a small, local race. I learned that last year when my marathon fee was $45 (before I decided to also buy the race T-shirt).

*Avoidable extras, which is why I’m not including them in the cost break-down.

Fuel = $105

I buy my energy gels in bulk on Amazon. The case I buy has 12 energy gels for $26.95, which makes each gu $2.25. I consume between one and three of these on my long runs. Unfortunately, the math here becomes a guessing game, because I don’t run long every week and I don’t eat the same amount of gu on each outing. So I reviewed my Amazon orders, and last year, I spent $105.28 on energy gels. Some of those gus carried over to this year, just as some I bought the previous year carried over into last year. The point is, I spent just over $100 on my running fuel in one year and will probably do it again.

Miscellaneous = $200

The extra purchases throughout the year are sometimes more spontaneous based on deals and plain old desire. Like that really cute tank on the sale rack; I don’t need it, but…hello, sale!

When I first started running, I bought a water belt for about $40. After using if for several years, it didn’t fit as well as it once did and the velcro was worn out; I needed something to replace it. So last year, I bought a new water pack for $63. Not everyone needs one of these and even if you do, you’re not buying one every year you’re running. Same goes for a GPS watch. It’s a very expensive, one-time purchase. And the glide I bought two years ago is just now running low. I better add that to my shopping list.

This list is probably missing items and has items that I bought last year, but won’t buy again for a few years. Ultimately, there is about $200 extra that I may spend on running this year.

Socks = $24 ($12/pair)
Compression Socks = $45
Water Belt/Pack = $62.95
Arm Band or Belt = $20
Glide = $10
Tech Shirt = $25 *TJ Maxx and clearance racks are your friend
Shorts = $25

Grand Total = $815


I honestly don’t know if I’m shocked by this number or pleasantly surprised. It is definitely not a low number, but in reality $68 a month for a hobby that I love isn’t so bad. Plus, there are plenty of ways to get this number lower or higher depending on my running goals. Adding a coach or a club fee into the mix would significantly increase the total. But I also know that if I joined a running club, I would receive some discounts on races and at running stores. And if I increase my yearly mileage, I’m going to need to start buying new shoes more often. Ultimately I think the pros of running out way the cost.

Share your #runnervibes below: Did I miss any expensive running items? How does my expense report stand up to yours? Do you think running is an expensive sport?

Running is not a cheap sport, but how expensive is it? I ran the numbers and found just how much running costs me per year.
Running is not a cheap sport, but how expensive is it? I ran the numbers and found just how much running costs me per year.

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  1. Running shoes were definitely the biggest expense for me, but still only around £100/$125. I admittedly hadn’t thought about how expensive race entries were until my boyfriend said he thought £20/$25 for a 10k was too expensive!

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