Running is actually a great sport to get into if you want to stay in shape and be healthy but don’t want to dole out a lot of money for expensive gym fees. In Toronto, gym, yoga clubs and spinning clubs are expensive, and you can easily pay $150 a month for a basic membership. Running is cheap, since all you really need is a good pair of running shoes and personal commitment. But as any serious runner knows, running can get expensive. There is lots of technical equipment that you will want to buy, especially as you get into the longer distances. But there are ways to reduce your costs:
1. When buying running shoes or running equipment, always check for coupons before heading to the store. Running Room coupons are usually easy to find. I’ll never forget when Vector cereal offered 20% coupons on their cereal box packages. I drove across the city to 3 different grocery stores in the middle of the pouring rain, and then rummaged through their shelves to find one (there were very few left). Recently, the same coupon was offered on containers of Nordia cottage cheese. Who can say no to 20% savings? If you’re looking at buying running shoes, you’ll spend $100 minimum – so that’s $20 in savings right there. As I’ve previously mentioned, you can get this same deal at www.visaperks.ca and by using your visa card. Of course, if you sign up for a Running Room clinic, you get 10% coupons – but you need to use them while you’re still in the clinic.
2. If you don’t want to sign up for a clinic at the Running Room (they go for about $60 but you get a discount if you are a repeat member) then you can join in for free runs on Wednesday and Sunday (check your local Running Room for times and meeting places.) This is a great way for single people to find a running group without having to pay for a clinic.
3. Sports drinks – I have a few ways of saving here, because Gatorade can be expensive when you drink it nearly everyday! (This is especially applicable when running in the summer or in hot climates.) First of all, stock up when you see a great sale (I once found those giant jugs on sale for $1 at Price Chopper during one of their loonie sales). Secondly, you can buy the powder, which is far cheaper than the liquid. Thirdly, you can make sports drinks yourself – this I admit I have never tried, but if anyone has a recipe, I’d love to see it!
4. Take good care of your running clothes and make sure you launder them right away. This helps to maintain them but also makes sure that you have enough running gear available (my partner and I made it through the summer with only one good quality pair of running shorts each).
5. Buy at Costco. I don’t actually own a Costco membership, but maybe I should get one. I’ve heard that Costco has great prices on sports wear.
6. Wear hand-me-downs. I use my Mom’s old gear. Remember that people often make New Years Resolutions to work out and then don’t, so your friends or family may have gear for you that they don’t use and are willing to part with.
7. You can also seek out running jerseys at Thrift Stores. Free t-shirts from races, for example, are easy to find.
8. Make your own healthy power bars and other refeuling snacks. Alton Brown has a Good Eats episode where he makes his own power bars. In the absence of having this episode on hand, I will share a muffin receipe with you from this months’ Runner’s World:
LIZ’S MUFFIN MIX
2 cups whole-grain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup skim milk or soy milk
1/3 cup applesauce, regular or flavoured
1/2 cup chopped nuts, or dried, fresh, or frozen fruit
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Fill a muffin tin with 12 paper muffin cups. mix the first five dry ingredients in a large bowl. Slightly beat the eggs. Mix in the milk and applesauce. And wet ingredients to the dry mix. Stir until just combined, sprinkling in the nuts or fruit. Spoon into muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until muffin tops are golden brown.