Running is known as the cheapest sport for which you only need your body and proper running shoes, but which ends up costing way more than you ever expected!
When I first started with the Couch to 5K way back in February 2021, I used my old trainers which I got on sale for £20 and an old pair of running leggings from Primark! (Which by the way, kept falling down on me so perhaps weren’t the best ones to be running in!)
I’m part of a Facebook group called ‘Girls That Run’ where I asked the question of the hidden costs of running, those sneaky costs that you perhaps don’t anticipate once you start running.
And boy was I inundated with replies- hence the idea of writing this blog post so that you can perhaps be more prepared if you are thinking about taking up running!
A quick note though, I’m not trying to put you off beginning your running journey by writing this post, moreover I’m wanting to make you aware that once you get the running bug it can be easy to find yourself surrounded by race entries, old trainers, medals from said races, piles of new outfits, foam rollers and muscle guns!
It’s like anything though, I feel if you want to make running enjoyable and for it to actually be something you’ll want to do over and again, there are definitely products out there which can help with that!
Plus, you’re saving money on a gym membership (if you only run outside/have a treadmill at home) which equals having the available funds to best support your running!
The Top 10 Hidden Costs of Running
Time/Trial & Error
Out of these, I’d argue that most runners would say that your time is the one hidden cost you can’t get back but the one that gives the most in terms of knowledge of which products work best for you.
I know that even in the relatively short time I’ve been running - 19 months – I now have a good base of items/clothes/foods etc. which help rather than hinder my running.
During a long run there’s nothing worse than a low battery on your phone and a playlist full of adverts instead of motivating music!
I’ve had a Spotify Premium account for a while now and it’s a godsend when I’m out on said long run- I don’t tend to run to music but when I do it’s great not to have to put up with adverts and instead enjoy uninterrupted listening.
I also love finding new podcasts to listen to, running whilst listening to a murder/crime podcast does make for an interesting run though!
Clothing/Trainers/Sports Bras/Phone Holders/Thermal Layers
Now of course comes clothing. Kind of necessary when wanting to be comfortable and not be arrested for a spot of ‘naked running!’ (BTW this means running without any GPS, phone or music).
You’ll find yourself scouring the fitness section of any stores you go into and perhaps even your local charity shops or supermarkets!
Also, second hand sites like Vinted & Depop can be a treasure trove for finding gadgets/watches or running vests at a vastly lower price than buying brand new.
I recently bought a Garmin Vivoactive 3 for only £50 which was an absolute bargain considering they’re usually well over £200!
Of course, finding a well-fitting sports bra can not only be expensive but also timely because of the fact of having to try them on every time!
This is why I love a good Marks & Spencers sale- I recently found a whole bunch in their sale and the total price was less than the cost of just one bra!
Of course, with running, hormones, pregnancy etc. your size can and usually does change so it’s more of an on-going cost rather than a one off which just adds up over time!
Running socks are also another hidden cost as they differ from normal socks in that they prevent blisters and chafing whilst you run.
These, along with a pair of well fitting trainers are two of the best investments you make if you’re serious about running though. But sometimes it does feel like you’re being robbed when handing over upwards of £10 for a pair of socks!
Race Entries/Fees/Hotels/Flights/Petrol for away races
But of course this adds up the more races you want to enter and then on top of this is the travel to/from where the races are being held.
If you’re driving there then petrol/gas is another hidden cost you may not think about as it’s something you’d buy anyway if you have a car.
Then of course there’s parking on top- perhaps for multiple days if you’re away for a weekend.
If you have to travel further afield then a flight or two may be needed- which of course aren’t cheap at the best of times and of course a hotel or air b+b is also needed... it can all add up, especially if racing becomes more of a habit that a one off...
To make running more comfortable there are certain products which aim to help you before/during/after your runs.
Starting off with a simple bumbag style to carry your phone then graduating to a camelback style vest which helps keep you hydrated on your long runs.
Then there’s headphones for you to listen to said music/podcasts whilst our running- I started off with wired headphones which I quickly upgraded to a pair of bluetooth wireless headphones.
I have an over the ear pair as well as an in ear pair which I find work better for my running as they don’t get sweaty!
Of course there are other types of headphones which use bone conduction to bring the sound to your ears whilst leaving your ears actually free to listen for traffic etc.
These are horrendously expensive but I can see why they’d be good in a race situation that doesn’t really allow you to wear traditional headphones.
Fuelling before/during/after a run is incredibly important if you’re to make the most of a long run/workout.
Whilst the food you eat at home wouldn’t necessarily be a hidden cost, if you’re running a lot and far, then you may see a slight increase in your grocery bill as you buy more food because your hunger increases!
The type of food you eat is important to correctly nourish your body during increased exercise- plenty of protein and carbohydrates!
As a vegan it’s incredibly important that I get plenty of protein after a long run- I love scrambled tofu personally.
Fuelling whilst out on a run is also important- you may find you need a hydration tablet in your water or a couple of gels to drink on the go.
These aren’t the cheapest but are extremely important if you are to correctly replace salts lost through sweating.
Not something you can buy, but is definitely a hidden cost in the fact that it can take up valuable brain space if you find it’s running on empty.
Motivation is easy to lose but so hard to get back once you’ve made the decision not to run for whatever reason.
Physical Therapy/Massages/Medical Bills
As with any sport, keeping yourself fit can cost a lot, from massages post race, physical therapy to keep your joints in good working order to the medical bills if you’re outside of the UK.
I know I’ve had to start having deep tissue massages post-race if I want to keep my body in tip top condition for running.
There are of course a whole host of products you can buy to keep your muscles in good working order at home such as muscle guns, foam rollers, prickle mats etc. all of which can add up but are also necessary to keep yourself in good working order!
More for the female runners amongst us but definitely much needed if you’re to have a friction free run- nothing worse than coming home and discovering a red rub mark from a sports bra, running vest or too tight trainers!
Whilst running my first half marathon in Leeds for some reason I went against my better judgement and wore a different sports bra to the one I’d decided was a good fit for a run of that length, only to find at the end of the day that I’d been left with a rub mark from the zip protector!
It was incredibly annoying during my run and I wished I’d actually listened to myself and NOT worn it!
So take it from me and do a trial run of the clothes you’ll be wearing on race day because trust me, being annoyed by a bra strap digging in/rubbing you, isn’t the one whilst you’re trying to concentrate on running 13.1 miles!
And lastly, something that you’d probably list under ‘medical expenses’- knee/ankle braces to help support you whilst you’re recovering.
You can’t predict when/if you’ll get injured or need extra support for your joints so it’s likely that you wouldn’t have these lying around at home ‘just in case’.
This may come along with needing extra supplements, gels, to ensure you’re doing everything possible to protect yourself and aid recovery.
When you’ve bought these supports though, I’d argue that they end up paying for themselves if they continue to fit well and actually aid in recovery.
So, what do you think? Have I missed anything else which may be a hidden cost of running? What hidden costs have you found if you’ve taken up running? I’d love to know!