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Run Safely without Breaking the Bank: The Physical & Fiscal Demands of Running

9 Dec 2011

If you’re thinking of exchanging (or enhancing) your fitness program with running, are you physically and financially prepared for it?

Before you answer this, some information may be helpful.

The Physical
To be in shape for running, you’ll want to be sure to focus your training on a few key areas.

Lower Body Endurance
Assuming you’re working up to running long distances, you’ll need to train your legs for it. The stronger and more durable your legs are, the longer they’ll last.

Combining some resistance training with your running work will help strengthen your legs and delay fatigue on your longer treks.

Being loose and limber will help you do more than prevent injuries and delay soreness.

Improving and maintaining flexibility will help you move through a full range of motion, which will help aid in proper running mechanics.

Core Stabilization and Strength
As a weight-bearing activity, running long distances can put a lot of stress on your entire body. You’ll need a conditioned core to support a strong back and pelvic girdle.

Like flexibility, core stabilization and strength will go a long way in preventing injuries and promoting sound running mechanics. It will also help support lower body endurance.

Mental Toughness
Running can be as much a mental exercise as a physical one. Breaking past your limits, reaching a new threshold, and setting a personal best takes a lot of mental focus and tenacity.

Although running itself is a great way to improve your mental toughness, you can also include yoga to develop this aspect.


The Fiscal
One of the appeals of running is that you don’t need much to get started. The total amount you invest into picking up this new activity is really up to you, but there are a few must-haves in order to get started on the right foot.

There are also add-on items you can invest in along the way depending on how committed you are to the sport or if you just want to treat yourself to some accessories that can make your run more enjoyable.

The Essentials
Running Shoes
The right footwear is a must-have. With all the pounding and impact your body will take, it’s worth going to a specialty running store to get fitted for the right pair.

Expect to pay anywhere between $90 – $110 for a good pair of running shoes.

Start-Up Instruction
If you’re aiming to post significant mileage each week, consider hiring a running coach for at least one session. An initial gait analysis will help provide insight into your running mechanics and exercises to include in your training program.

Since this is a specialized single session, expect to pay between $90 – $120 for the hour.

Depending on your fitness level and results from your gait analysis, you may want to hire a running or conditioning coach for a few additional sessions. With a few more sessions, you’ll have a program customized for both your running goals and overall fitness needs.

Rates for personal training will run between $60 – $100 per hour, depending on where you live (the higher end is typical of urban health and athletic clubs).

Total Essential Costs: $180 – $230  

With Additional Training: $360 – $530


The Optionals
Gym Membership OR Treadmill
Where are you going to run? If you can run outdoors exclusively all year-round and prefer it over indoor exercise, then you probably won’t need a gym membership or treadmill.

If weather or traffic will impact your outdoor running sessions, consider either a gym membership or treadmill, depending on your budget, time, and space at home.

Gym Membership
you can find a gym for as low as $10/month. The average price in the U.S. is roughly $40/month. If you live in the city, a low-cost option may run you as high as $50-$60 per month.

Plan to spend about $500/year in a gym membership if you go this route.

Good treadmills are expensive. Having a treadmill will make your running workouts more convenient and accessible, but keep your price-point in mind before you go equipment shopping. Also, be sure to test out treadmills at fitness equipment shops or local gym as most clubs offer day passes to guests.

Expect to pay anywhere from under $1,000 for an adequate treadmill to up to $3,000 for a stellar one.

Minimalist Running Shoes
Some swear by them, some can’t stand them.

Reuters recently did a story on scientists’ debating the benefits of barefoot running. According to the article, esearchers found that barefoot runners usually generated less impact upon foot-strike and more efficiently used lower leg and foot muscles than shoe-wearing runners.

Even though barefoot (and near-barefoot) running has its merits, like any new training activity, start slowly and pace yourself. Once you’ve bought your first pair of barefoot shoes, get used to them with a light workout or shorter run and build up to longer sessions.

Minimalist running shoes can run you anywhere from $70-$90. Some pairs can reach $140.

Running Apparel
If you plan to withstand cold winters running outdoors, you’ll need to invest in breathable layers. Running tights and second-skin tops are must-haves in this weather.

Layers don’t come cheap, with tops ranging between $30-$50 each. Tights can vary from $50 – $90.

Try not to spend too much starting out until you can decide what material works best for you.

Total Optional Costs: $750 – $3,250


Like I said, one of the attractions of running is that it’s convenient and inexpensive to participate in. All you really need is a pair of shoes and some guidance.

Once you’ve decided to become a more committed “all-seasons” runner, add the optionals. Instead of spending up to $3,000 just to start, you can budget the costs over the long-term while you decide if running is the right activity for you.

So are you ready to be a runner? Train safely and start on a budget that works for you.

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