Friday, May 16, 2014

6 Ways Runners Can Save Money

The idea for this post started in the most unusual of ways.

Yesterday I could no longer take the ugly- ass look of my feet, so I splurged and went in for a pedicure. To a runner I am convinced there is nothing as heavenly as someone rubbing your feet. The result was fantastic. I will never have pretty feet, but I redeemed them somewhat:

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Then, guess what? Today after my swim my big toe felt funny. (GROSS alert for picture below because some people yelled at me for not having a warning). It felt funny because the freaking big toe nail was separating itself from the rest of the toe (damn anti-social toenail).  So, you mean to tell me that I – queen of frugal-ville – splurge on a $25 pedicure only to have it sabotaged the very next day by a toenail malfunction? No way, sister. This cannot be.

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So, I did what any person in my shoes with this type of FWP would do. I crazy-glued the nail back on. Voila – $25 saved. Brilliant.

This got me to thinking about the other ways that we runners can be frugal. If anyone tries to tell you that running is inexpensive because all you need are shoes and shorts, punch them in the crotch. Running is a money sucking pit. There are entry fees, watches, shoes, shorts, shirts, bras, gels, fuel belts, and hats. Don’t even get me started on 13.1 and 26.2 stickers, massages, pedicures, crazy glue and compression socks.  And, if you are really hard-core, there might just be a tattoo involved.

So, how can a runner girl or guy save a buck or two, aside from gluing on your toenails? Here are 6 sure fire ways:

1. DIY Arm Warmers: Arm warmers are not cheap. I am not sure why two little sleeves that cover you from your armpit to your wrist cost $25, but they do. A couple of years ago I was training for the Boulder 70.3 and went to Breckenridge for the week. Being summertime, I forgot my arm warmers, but knew I would need them since the early mornings in the mountains can be about 35 degrees. I went to Wal-Mart, bought a pair of ugly men’s black socks, cut off the socks at the ankles and PRESTO, I had a new pair of arm warmers (see full tutorial HERE).

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Total cost? $2.50.

This would also be a great idea on race day. Wear your socks arm warmers at the beginning when you are nipply, then just toss them aside later.

2. Find Shoes Online: Never pay full price for shoes. Go to Dicks or somewhere, find the right shoe and fit and then come home and find them online and get free shipping. I know I am not supporting my local running stores. Sorry. But I buy other stuff there, I promise.

You can usually save quite a bit this way. Places like ShoeBuy.com and Onlineshoes.com usually have coupon codes. Road Runner Sports also has a great VIP program which gives you lots of discounts.

3. Substitute Gels/Chews/Energy bars: At $1 a piece, gels are expensive. Same with those fancy chews, chomps, Bloks and energy bars. Try replacing these treats with candy like jelly beans, Dots (my favorite) and gummy bears. Consider making your own protein bars (some good recipes HERE). Some people recommend eating honey or jelly instead of gels, but that kind of grosses me out, personally.

Just be aware if you substitute, you may be not getting the same number of electrolytes and sodium, so be sure to factor that in.

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4. Eliminate or Lessen Race Entry Fees: Race fees have gotten out of hand. The only reason I don’t race more is I can’t stinking afford it. You can offset race costs in a few ways. Consider volunteering at a race you want to do in the future. A lot of times you will be comped a race entry the fee will be discounted. If you have a blog, write the race director and ask for a comped entry in exchange for your review of the race. I did this last year when I wanted to do a 70.3 race in Denver. It was $200 so I asked the race director if he could reduce the fee if I posted something on my social media sites about the race. He gave me 50% off. Also, look at Groupon and other online sites for coupons and deals.

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5. Stop Getting Hurt: Injuries are expensive. They require lots of acronyms like PT and MRIs. They often involve massages, crutches, boots, psychotherapy and pool memberships (because this will be the only activity you can do). By-pass all of these expenses by not getting hurt in the first place. This is easier said than done from someone with quite the laundry list of running injuries.  My best advice is simple - Take your recovery very seriously. Cross train. Take rest days. Vary your runs – some days are speedy some days are long run pace. More injury prevention tips HERE.

An injured runner watching paintballing. No fun. And, expensive.

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6. Give Shoes Some TLC: Can you believe we are supposed to replace shoes every 400 miles or so? I’m not always the best about doing this, since I don’t keep OCD track of how many miles are on my shoes and I tend to rotate lots of different shoes (trail, track, etc.). It’s probably a good idea to grab a Sharpie when you get new shoes and just write the date of purchase on the side of the shoe.

I do know that to prolong the life of your shoes you can do a couple of things – 1. only wear them to run, not to walk around Forever XXI for 2 hours or traipsed around Disneyland for 3 days 2. store them in a cool/dry place. When shoes get too hot or cold they can break down more quickly. 3. Don't put them in the dryer. 

 

There you go. Now just take all the money you save and send it to me so I can buy some things for myself.

Do you have any other money saving tips to add?

SUAR

42 comments:

  1. At an important race recently, I broke my nail a couple kms in. This sounds really stupid but it broke really low, so when I took the polish off, there was actually a blob of blood there and hurt like a motha during the race. Ripping the nail off would have been FAR more painful, so I krazy glued it back on until the broken part grew out.

    I also eat candy instead of gels during training runs and I get free race entry by volunteering as a pacer.

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  2. When I was in college, I lost a toenail during prime summer flip-flop wearing time. I wasn't smart enough to think about gluing the nail back on. Instead, I just painted the nail polish right on the skin where my toenail should have been. Very classy.

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  3. Years ago my horse stepped left and i stepped right and his left foot stomped my big toe mid-turn. i thought i was going to pass out. It split my toe nail horizontally across. My manicurist ripped it off for me. I was the worst! it was a week or two before i could put a shoe on.

    Race Grader sometimes has good discounts on race entries. If you belong to a running group you can sometimes get a discount on entry fees as well.

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  4. I always buy the "old" version of a model of a shoe because they are typically about 50% off online. I know I like one model of a shoe, so for the last few years when my shoe wears out, I go online and get the same or next version of the same model, rather than the latest version. There is some risk involved because I don't try on the shoe first, but I read old reviews of the version to see if there was as significant change in fit from the prior. So far it has worked out.

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  5. I like all your tips but for #2. I've got a thing about local stores. There is more to life than getting something the cheapest. If you don't buy your shoes in a local store, if that's what everybody does, then there won't be a local store selling shoes for you to try on and then buying elsewhere. Money spent in your community stores tends to stay there. Money spent in Walmart goes into the pockets of the execs and is shipped overseas.

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    1. Yes, very true. Although I did say I support my local store in buying lots of other stuff...so will you forgive me?

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    2. Other, more expensive stuff, I hope. :-) Of course I forgive you, a blog as entertaining and honest as yours doesn't come along every day, you know.

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    3. I agree. I can't quite get behind buying cheaper shoes online because I like to support the local guy. Most times, they're the ones organizing local races, running groups and other events, so I definitely buy my shoes from them--even if it costs a little more.

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    4. I also rarely buy shoes from my local running store, only 1 or 2 pairs a year normally. I do, however, talk many people into running marathons and help them train, sometimes buying a small giftcard from the store for a friend's birthday. So, that also helps support the local running store :) I love the local running stores, but i agree, most new model running shoes are pricey.

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  6. My favorite arm warmers are Asics knit ones that are under $10 a pair. I absolutely love them and they're cheap enough that I have a few pairs. To support my shoe and race habit I started working part time at a running store. Great way to get a discount on quality running gear, meet brand reps, and get advice from some seriously talented runners.

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  7. Good tips, I suck about saving money when it comes to running, if I "need" something then I'm going to get it.
    I do buy my shoes online and usually models that are a few months old, I don't need the latest (glad I don't succumb to marketing so easily), same goes for clothes, there are some great sites with very discounted running clothes models from the previous season.

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  8. I'm guilty of not buying full-priced running shoes at my local running store. I go there to try them on, too! I feel so guilty, so I always buy a few gels and other small things. It would probably save me money if I didn't buy gels a few at a time, and buy them in bulk online...

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  9. This post should have a gross alert, I nearly lost my lunch when I saw the pic of the toenail lifting Uuugggh! I still buy shoes at a running store to get their expertise but try to go for discontinued models etc. I don't need the latest advances in shoes, I can wait.
    I am going to try the sock/arm warmer thing though - brilliant.
    Hope your toenail stays glued, x

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    1. I think the whole blog comes with a gross alert somewhere in the fine print.

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    2. True. I am always surprised when people get grossed out/offended by my blog - not because it's not gross and offensive but because...well...this is been the nature of the blog for 5 years.

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  10. When I lose toenails, I just paint over top of the skin! hehehe...

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  11. A lot of runners throw sweatshirts etc to the side of the road at the beginning of a race. They say trash, I say FREE CLOTHES!

    Actually, I've never picked any clothes up at a race, but at my last race, it was COLD and I went back to retrieve my throwaway sweatshirt and it was gone! There was plenty to choose from, but I didn't take anything. Now that I think about it, why not?

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    1. I don't know if it's common everywhere, but I've heard that some races collect all of those "discarded" clothes and donate them to local charities. I hope that's true.

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  12. Those clothes usually get donated to charity, at least at large races.

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  13. I ask for gift cards to the local running store for all of my gift receiving holidays. After Christmas I gathered all the useless gift cards people had given me and sold them to friends, gathering enough cash for new running shoes. And because my phone case cuts into my arm, I cut the top off of a pair of my husband's socks and use that as a cushion instead of wasting body glide on every run.

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  14. oye- do you know in 12 years of running i have never lost a single toe nail and probably only gotten 3 pedicures...yup I'm cheap. maybe that's why I don't really use gels and I don't really do races, ha!!! I just run because my soul says "girl run today or I will make you unhappy" :)
    No really, I think we make it more expensive than necessary sometimes!

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    1. Haha awesome! I lost my first toe nail this spring due to frostbite on a run back in the winter. It was black for about 4 months before I lost it. People do make it more expensive than it needs to be, but that's how new companies make $$. Back in the 1970s they only had water on the course... no gels or even gatorade! And the marathon winners still broke 2:10:00... Most races have some sort of gel out on the course and if it's something you are used to, take it, or take extra and use them on your long runs :p i've gone to races with none and finished with 2-3 haha.

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  15. There was a girl at my 5K today that used the top elastic part of a mans tube sock as an arm band for her phone. I thought that was clever.

    My new bf said if I won more races, it would be better financially because I would get cash prizes and swag that I could use for running and racing. I better start doing some speed work for him ;-)

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  16. Awesome list!!! I never thought of asking for a discount in exchange for volunteering or race promotion/blogging. Great idea.

    Don't get injured is my favorite. I cringe thinking of all the money I have spent in that department - if I include co-pays, docs, chiro, massage, ART, acupuncture..all the things I have resorted to when injured...and most recently a major surgery...it probably adds up to a nice car. Shhh....don't tell my husband.

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  17. Haha! Love it coz my left big toe nail is separating as we speak - so it's cheap nail polish (purple of course) to cover up the nasty looking toe. Coz its hotter than hell right now in Southern California and grossing out my fellow citizens with deformed toenails in my flip flops would be bad.

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  18. I buy about half my running shoes from local running stores, but order replacements online out of convenience. I have 2 jobs and it is often difficult to get to the store. Weekends I'm usually running, crosstraining and catching up on household chores.
    I'm a paint-over-your-nail bed type.

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  19. oh my goodness you should have put a warning before that toenail photo! hahaha

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  20. I love the arm warmers tip! and I used to never buy shoes online but now I don't even think about buying any from a store!
    and you are a runner so of course you have bad feet and your toes were not ok with you trying to make them look any prettier! haha

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  21. SUAR- Love your blog. I am still gagging a bit from the toenail but the crazy glue is brilliant. Maybe a little antifungal underneath there next time might be a good idea. Another thing...I am traning for an ironman too and I am struggling with nutrition...with what, how much, when etc. Can you write a blog post about what you do? I just need some ideas.

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  22. I totally love the sock idea for arm warmers!!!!!!!!

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    1. one of my friends used socks at her marathon this weekend, it was brilliant and she said it worked well!

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  23. Great ideas. I do a variant of #1 (as well as #2-3) - I love to wear patterned knee highs, but sadly they wear out. So then I can give them a second life as arm warmers at races - makes me happy to wear them again.

    Though I am thinking about getting some real arm warmers for everyday (repeat) use as well.

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  24. Speaking of tattoos... Just curious if you have considered the IM tattoo?!?! I could never do an IM, but if I did, I would want everyone I came in contact with to know it!

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    1. Yes, funny you should ask...recently I have been considering this! Will keep you posted.

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  25. I've been a customer of Road Runner Sports for years and they have fantastic customer service. Love them! I don't really have a local store option where I am other than the big box stores. Rather buy from the little on-line running businesses that support the sport.

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  26. Race fees are CRAZY these days. $100 to run?? It's crazy. I wanted to do the Nike Half but I believe it was around $200!!

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  27. I still don't see what i love to do... volunteer at a race, run the race, stay until awards are over and ask for the left over food! i've taken large boxes of bananas, oranges, etc home just because most races have so much leftover and if you help them clean up, they are normally more than happy to give you leftovers!

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  28. Awesome tips! Love supporting local, but with some of the prices, I would never be able to afford to run (single mother to-be, so money is super-duper tight). Between trying to pay club fees and race fees, I'll be broke enough already. Mind you, I do buy my shoes locally (other clothing/accessories I find online), they keep track of every pair you purchase from them so if you go back years later for a certain make, they can find you the most recent version of that shoe (especially if you're like me and cant remember the brand, whoops!). Not to mention they give free gait analysis, which for me turned out to be a blessing and helped prevent the need for future knee surgery or further damage.

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  29. I won a free entry to a marathon this week! It's one I wanted to do in September but my husband was cutting me off (I'd already signed up for 10 races and completed 5)
    Now I get to so my 4th half marathon and for free! Love the arm warmer tip. They are ao expensive and never fit my skinny short arms!

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