The true cost of running

Good morning and happy Tuesday. This year, I’m aiming to save at least £500 a month. A lot of money, but it should be achievable if I’m sensible. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink (very often) and I rarely go out out. I’m trying to cut down the number of takeaways I treat myself to. I can’t remember the last time I had a ‘proper’ holiday.

In theory, I don’t even have an expensive hobby. People keep reminding me that running is one of the cheapest sports out there. Running can be a cheap hobby, but in my experience can become quite expensive.



Is running really that cheap? I spent an uncomfortable 30 minutes or so going through my 2018 running-related expenditure to see how much my cheap(?) hobby cost.

I really, really hope that my family don’t read this post…

Running clothes and trainers

  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers – £55
  • Lululemon Train Times shorts – £48
  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers – £50
  • Feetures socks – £10
  • Lululemon Swiftly Tech racerback top – £24
  • Feetures socks – £12
  • Lululemon Train Times shorts – £48
  • Tribe Sports running leggings – £14.99
  • Karrimor reflective running tights – £15.99
  • Lululemon Swiftly Tech short sleeve top – £29
  • 2XU reflective running leggings – £19.99
  • Nike running shorts – £10
  • Nike running jacket – £15.80
  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 trainers – £84
  • Nike Pro capris – £14.50

TOTAL: £451.27

Running accessories

  • Salomon running cap – £15.90
  • parkrun smoothband – £13.98
  • Sweaty Betty Anna headband – £11.50
  • Lululemon Run Fast gloves – £32
  • Lululemon Run All Day backpack – £65
  • Nathan Intensity hydration backpack – £69.92

TOTAL: £208.30


Race entries

TOTAL: £350.20

Virtual races

  • Virtual Reading Half (replacement for Cambridge) – £12
  • Run Around the World Virtual Event – £13
  • Virtual Run Miles for Mind – £13.95
  • Run up to Christmas – £13
  • Virtual Runner 1000k – £13.50

TOTAL: £65.45

Travel and accommodation

  • Train to Cambridge Half – £10 (was originally £61.40 but got refund)
  • Train to Royal Parks Half – £28.30
  • Hotel in London before the Royal Parks Half – £159

TOTAL: £197.30

Running club

  • Fetch Everyone fees – £25

TOTAL: £25


  • WordPress fees – £22
  • Plus a lot of my time writing for nothing!

TOTAL: £22


  • Royal Parks Half photos – £29.99
  • Donation to Alzheimer’s Society – £42

TOTAL: £71.99

GRAND TOTAL: £1391.51

Working out roughly how much I spent on my hobby last year actually made me feel quite embarrassed! I haven’t even included fuel and food costs.

I’m aware that I bought quite a few one-off purchases; for example the hydration pack and running backpack, however, I still spent a lot more than I thought. I don’t even want to work out how much money I wasted on races I DNS. I don’t think I’ll be entering any virtual races this year.

A lot of my running gear was either bought on eBay or in the sales, perhaps I should work out how much money I saved…

Fingers crossed 2019 is a slightly less expensive year. I’m going to avoid the temptation to enter races because of my #FOMO and I don’t need to buy any more running gear! I don’t think I’ll be entering any more race ballots this year.

Have you ever worked out how much money you spend on running in a year? I’d love to know if it’s more or less than I managed to spend in 2018.

Do you set yourself a running budget? I think I’m going to have to set myself a budget and will be slightly more selective when it comes to entering races this year.


36 thoughts on “The true cost of running

  1. runsonveggiesblog says:

    It’s so interesting to see how much you’ve spent. I think I’m going to add mine all up too 🙈 Race entries can be so expensive! I don’t know how people afford it. I was thinking I’ll do a half marathon a month but it’ll cost at least £30 per race. It all adds up. But I guess once you have the gear, at least, you have it for a very long time? Hopefully anyway!


    • Emma says:

      Thanks, I found it really interesting. Definitely add up your running purchases, hopefully you don’t get too much of a surprise. Before I started I guestimated I spent around £800 on running related purchases, I was a little shocked and embarrassed when I worked out how much I actually spent. So much for being thrifty. Race entries do add up, I wish more race organisers would let runners transfer and sell unwanted entries to other people. I haven’t worked out the cost of the races I didn’t actually start. Hopefully the gear will last me for a long time, well that’s the theory.


  2. Derek Lee says:

    Haha, nothing is cheap Emma! I sometimes scare myself by how much I spend on alcohol each month. The main point is what you get for your money – fitness (saving on future health costs), personal satisfaction and achievement, being safe and comfortable (reducing risk of injuries and accidents), camaraderie, helping good causes, being an inspiration to others [to name just a few from the top of my head].
    With regard to reducing costs, just look out for those “little” expenses that sneak under the radar – Greggs (I know you do it!) and coffee shops for example. I’m a great believer in the value of making small changes.


    • Emma says:

      Tell me about it Derek. Let’s face it, I could have added quite a lot more onto my total if I’d looked at post-race food treats and drinks. Although I do enjoy running, I was a little shocked when I worked out how much money I spent on my hobby last year. I have a pile of medals and some great memories and not a lot else to show for the money. I’m not sure I’m inspirational!
      It is definitely the little expenses that soon add up. I’ve been keeping track of everything I’ve spent this week. The small ‘treats’ are adding up and do make a difference. I’m not going to cut out all treats, I need some reward for getting up every morning.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. bereavedandbeingasingleparent says:

    Like you I’m trying to cut down in the expenditure. But Ive decided to cut down stuff which doesn’t bring me enjoyment. Got to have something to live for. So fitness costs are protected. Maybe only buying new gear when needed and making sure I look for the best prices (often find that Sport Pursuit have the best prices) Have to say bought a few really cheap running vests from Aldi, as good as more expensive stuff.


    • Emma says:

      Thanks for reading my latest bit of waffle. I’m kind of a little relieved I’m not the only person out there trying to cut down their expenditure. I like your approach; not cutting down stuff that brings you enjoyment sounds sensible. Just cutting out virtual runs will save me a fair amount of money. I’m hoping that last year was just an expensive year. A lot of my gear purchases were one offs so this year should be cheaper. I love Sport Pursuit and get their emails every morning.


  4. chris kent says:

    hehehe try being a triathlete then u will find out the true cost of racing, £1300 is just my cost of entries+travel+camping fees, without the added cost of new bike(shoes+pedals), wetsuit and skinsuit, also all my races are off road so add in trail shoes.
    Also added in is the £16 worth of gels and bars and tablets per race and it soon mounts up.



    • Emma says:

      I don’t think I could afford to enter a triathlon at the moment. I’d need to buy a bike, buy swimming gear and have a lot of swimming lessons. And that’s before I’d even consider entering a triathlon. I’d love to know how much it costs to enter an average triathlon, and by that I mean all the gear as well as the race entry and associated costs. I think I’ll stick to running until I get a better job!


    • Emma says:

      I hope you’re well. True! Rather ironically I wear my favourite race t-shirts a lot more than any other t-shirts. I guess I should also confess that a lot of the running clobber I bought last year is still unworn and unused. Opps!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Emma says:

        Now that’s good going. A couple of years ago, I donated some of my unwanted running gear to charity. I suspect it’s time for me to work out what I actually have in storage. Realising I have far too much gear may stop my shopping habit.


  5. Bethan says:

    This was such an interesting read! I guess I’m minded to think of it all as an investment in a hobby that brings you joy (and one that’s healthy and not socially destructive to boot!), but I also see that it can be so easy to get wrapped up In racing and that can end up really draining you, especially if you DNS. I guess maybe it’s about making considered choices? Thought provoking stuff xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emma says:

      Thanks Bethan. Going through all my emails was interesting. Once I’ve (hopefully) completed the more expensive races I’ve already paid for this year I’m going to switch my attention to local, cheaper events and parkrun. I need to go back to what I called student mode. I used to be more sensible with my money. I think I got a bit carried away last year xx


  6. Maria @ Maria Runs says:

    I don’t think I would like to work it out! I have found that slightly more expensive stuff lasts longer- I had some karrimor leggings that were about £10 but they were terrible quality and didn’t wash well so I now usually buy more expensive ones (in the sale mainly) as they last years and years.
    I did realise a few years ago how many virtual races I was doing, and stopped that as although some money goes to charity, most of it doesn’t, and I’d rather just give the money to charity than have a load of medals hanging about the place.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Emma says:

      Don’t do it Maria. I’ve bought cheap running gear in the past and it doesn’t last. When I buy some Lululemon shorts I tell myself they will last a long time and think about ‘cost per wear’. Lululemon is so popular it’s easy to sell on eBay. Most of my Lululemon gear was bought in the sale or may have been a Christmas present…to myself.
      Yes, I’ve decided to stop entering virtual races. I’m sponsoring a random runner each month instead. I know how hard fundraising is, and I hope this is a good way of making a runner smile while also supporting charities.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Dorothea says:

    Great idea, Emma. I guess when it’s spread out over the year, it’s not as shocking, but I also spent 846 Euro (from what I can remember) and that’s not including the monthly gym membership of 20 Euro + admin charges. And yeah, at least the gear lasts a while. I actually didn’t buy many clothes last year…just mostly new shoes and race entries. It’s a good way to look forward though. It seems you have a plan for looking forward and I now do too. I’m trying to save 50 € a month… but I also make less and every bit counts! I consider it my “retirement” savings since I’m not able to contribute to that right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emma says:

      You’ve made me feel a lot better so thanks :o) I’m now keeping a running total so I hopeful I’ll have a cheaper year. I didn’t get a place in the Royal Parks Half ballot which means I’m already spending a lot less. That was one expensive weekend. The gear I bought should last me a while, I always buy better quality in the hope it doesn’t fall to pieces after a couple of runs. Good luck with the saving, I’m off to catch up your Cambridge blogs, reading about a different university is so interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Tamsyn Smith says:

    It’s eye-opening when you write it all down, isn’t it?! I’m grateful that one of my friends works for a well-known brand of running shoes, which has helped to keep my costs down… and I only entered a handful of races in 2018, but that’s not as much fun!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Emma says:

      I’ve already spent more than I realised this year, I’ve also sold a lot of my unwanted running gear on facebook. Having a friend who works for a well-known brand of running shoes is amazing. The nearest I’ve got is a friend who works for a cycling brand… I don’t cycle! Yes, not entering races isn’t much fun. Having said that I may well stick to parkrun more this year.


      • Carol P says:

        Thanks! Developments! I’d been saving for a few months for flights and accommodation to do a marathon interstate in April. This week I realised I’d rather spend the money on upgrading my PC, which I did today, and it’s SO much better and will mean much less frustration. It’s going to improve my life much more than maxing myself out for two months with final LSR/taper/marathon/recovery.
        Instead of a couple of main runs in two months I can keep running, reduce risk of injury, save money and have less stress.
        $765 not added to my spreadsheet! Plus I also haven’t had to spend $140 on the marathon registration.
        I’m enjoying keeping aware of these amounts instead of being in denial! Thanks again. x


      • Emma says:

        That is amazing news, thanks for sharing your latest news. A new PC sounds awesome and $765 is a huge amount to not add to your spreadsheet. Keeping a spreadsheet has made a massive difference to my spending, I’ve already cut down the amount of money I’ve spent on clothes and other bits and pieces I don’t need. In January I spent £200, last month I spent £15 so a huge difference. I’ve also had a great few weeks of selling my unwanted running gear on Farcebook. I had entered the ballot for the New York Marathon, I found out I didn’t get a place on Wednesday. Rather than feeling disappointed I was relieved I wouldn’t have to spend a fortune on race entry, flights and hotels.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Kate says:

    OMG I spend so much money on running gear. I’m kind of a junkie. I love to research and buy all kinds of running gear. I’m at least going to start posting reviews about my products to help others.

    Liked by 1 person

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