Just for fun

The Hidden Costs of Pursuing Your Running Passion: A Look at My Running Budget Over the Last Three Years

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Running is a completely free form of exercise. But for me to minimise the chance of injuries, to tend to injuries, and as I get deeper into this hobby and more engaged, costs undoubtedly add up. Here I look at the cost of the sport of running since I decided to take up running three years ago.

Towards the end of 2019, I made the decision to switch from primarily focusing on building strength through working out in the gym to building my cardiovascular fitness by putting on a pair of running shoes and running in the great outdoors.

One small thought in my mind at the time was that surely running is a much more affordable hobby than going to the gym. A pair of running shoes, some shirts and shorts. That’s all I need as upfront costs right? Compare that to the regular gym membership I was paying of about $50 per month at the time, or $600 a year! I was definitely expecting a saving.

In this post, I look at how much I spent on everything running related in the full three years since I have taken up running as a serious hobby.

Types of expenses

After looking at all my recorded expenses over the past three years, I had categorised them into the following:

ShoesFor running shoes
PhysiotherapyFor all the help that I’ve needed due to my over-eagerness and getting injured 🙁 As well as general injury treatment
TechnologyAny gadgets that I bought as part of my running journey
ClothingShirts, shorts and socks
RacesAny race entrance fees
NutritionBasically, gels
AccessoriesAny other miscellaneous accessories

I spent $882.26 per year on running

Kind of shocking, right?! This is nearly a whopping 50% more than I was spending on the gym! On a purely economic basis, I should just switch back. Or, just quit both. However the corresponding weight gain to sustain my regular food spendage is probably not a good idea.

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Let’s break this down a bit more by year to see how my spend looked..

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My spend over the past three years
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Some callouts from this..

I purchase about 2-3 pairs of shoes a year

My biggest spending category is on shoes having spent $1,221.86 in the past three years for 8 pairs of shoes – one of which I’ve already sold, and another that I’m currently trying to sell. This comes to $407 a year on shoes which is about 2-3 pairs of shoes a year

I have 3 physio sessions a year

My second largest spending category is on physiotherapy – from working through running injuries caused by being an over exuberant novice (read here on what I’ve learnt..) and just general body maintenance due to randomly waking up with a really sore neck, every dollar spent in this category was worth it. On an annualised basis, it represents $155.33 per year which based on my private health cover and the physio I choose to go to comes to about 3 sessions on average a year which actually sounds like on the lower end – ideally I wouldn’t want to get injured through and would want this to be 0!

2022 was my most expensive year on running

I spent the most in the most recent year, just over $1,500, primarily on shoes, physiotherapy and technology.

One of the shoes I purchased was the Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 which I’m trying to sell at the moment because they didn’t fit my feet.

Another pair I purchased through a personalised shoe fitting service provided by Running Science in Rozelle (highly recommended!!). This pair ended up being the most I have ever spent on a pair of shoes but they fit and feel extremely comfortable on my runs.

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Physiotherapy expenses were there as I was working through a lot of neck and shoulder issues this year and figuring out what pre-hab exercises I can do to prevent this going forward.

Technology was a splurge purchase on the Shokz OpenRun Pro Sports headphones which allow for open-ear running meaning I can listen to podcasts on my long runs safely and still remain aware of my surroundings – a very comfortable pair that I easily forget that I’m wearing whilst I’m running.

Conclusion

Without going through this exercise, I would have believed that running was cheaper than going to the gym.

To be fair, I didn’t factor in other expenses for going to the gym like buying resistance bands, gym bags, shoes, chalk, etc. however many of these costs were upfront more than 5 years ago and so would have averaged out to very little.

From this, I’ve learnt that if I’m more careful with my shoe selection (to avoid the need to sell them), taking more care pre/during/post running to prevent injuries to avoid the need for physiotherapy, and by avoiding splurges on technology, I’ll be able to mostly keep my running expenses under control! Not to say that there won’t be any splurges going into the future – a shiny new Garmin would be nice 🙂

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