Let’s face it. We’re all trying to be frugal this year. Working out on a budget is the second biggest fitness trend this year (after bootcamp-style workouts), according to the American Council on Exercise and reported in Suite101.com. Lots of people will probably opt to cancel their gym memberships and simply cut some things right out. Here’s what I’m doing or have done to try and keep the schedule I want while trimming costs. The secret sauce is point #6, so skip or read to the end for the important stuff.
1. Stay local. I’m trying to do fewer out of town tris, ultras and marathons. It’s fun to travel to cool places and do some big name events I’ve always wanted to do, but I decided not to do the Way Too Cool 50K this year when there are perfectly good 50Ks and trail races in the Bay Area. Add to your race fees a cheap motel, meals, gas, too many trips to Starbucks, and an out of town race can easily cost $400 – $500.
2. Find the right shoes – Recently, I went to a local running shop where they have a sort of scale you stand on that measures the distribution of your weight on your feet, which provides information on what kind of shoe you require. Based on this information, I was encouraged to switch from a stability shoe to a neutral shoe. I ended up in a much better road running shoe for me but I also saved 25 – 30% of my investment in shoes because the new shoes last that much longer.
3. Join a club. Almost any local running store or bike shop will give club members a 20% discount. Local race organizers also give my running club an additional discount to enter races. My running club membership is $30/year. I get that back in spades just by using my 20% discount. You don’t have to be an active member to join a club but you’re leaving money on the table by not joining.
4. Find the deals. I’ll always go to a store and talk to an expert to get fitted for shoes. Once I’ve selected the correct shoe, I always buy the first pair from that store, usually at 20% discount for club members. After that, I always buy my running shoes online, usually 30 - 40% less than what you would pay in a store. Sometimes it can be hard to find half sizes online, and sometimes I need to buy last year’s model, but what do I care? And I can usually find free shipping. I don’t know why anyone would pay a 30 – 40% premium to buy shoes in a store. Same goes for tri equipment. I buy a lot of my gear and apparel from the sale and closeout sections of web sites. Selections are more limited, but if you hunt and peck enough, you can find some sweet deals. These days, there are also plenty of stores going out of business holding clearance sales. Find them.
5. Don’t pay to run. I’m not suggesting being a “bandit.” You should always pay to enter a race. But you certainly don’t need to pay to run trails, even the exact same course of any given race (just not on race day). Many trails are marked and county parks and recreation departments often post maps at the trail head. You won’t get the aid stations but get a small group together to do a long trail run and be well prepared with nutrition and hydration.
6. KEEP MOMMA HAPPY. This is the secret sauce. If I had the recipe for how to succeed with this critical item, I would sell it on the internet instead of blogging about it’s importance. The multi-sport lifestyle simply costs money, regardless of how much you can save. None of it works very well if your spouse isn’t on board with it. Listen to your inner voice on this one. Do what you need to do, but don’t forget this pivotal item.
OK, so I sort of blew it with the Transrockies Run in August. It’s a hefty $2700 entry fee for each 2-person team. But I just couldn’t say no. That one will be an adventure I will never forget. I bet five years from now I won’t regret having spent the money.
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