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My “Cheap” Hobby

The dawn of my decision to run went something like this:

“Hm. You are forty (one) and beginning to have skinny-fat legs. What are you going to do about that? Yup, yup, there’s no use denying it; you are going to have to work out. But how? Back to the gym? No. You never go, and it’s expensive. I know! Let’s run. It’s cheap and you don’t have to go anywhere. Just strap on a pair of shoes and go. Yeah, that’s it. I’ll run.”


I got part of that right. I don’t have to go anywhere, and I’m enjoying it more than the gym. I am now 8 weeks into running and 13 weeks into working out. This beats my previous stick-to-it record by about 450%. Sad but true.

So running is much better than the gym for me. Oddly, I would skip going to the gym if it meant walking or driving through rain to get there, but I have run in rain at least three times now without thinking much of it. But the cheap part? Hardly. Here’s the breakdown on my “cheap” new sport:

No Boundaries program fee: $75

Winter/early spring running wardrobe (on sale, including a bra and two insulated tops): $100.50

Summer running wardrobe (two tops, one Capri, a skort, and shorts): $82

Shoes: $118

Socks (including special wool ones): $30

Water bottles*: $24

Race entry fee for first 5K: $25

Pro Stretch: $30

Cheapest iPod available to keep me company: $50

Total to date: $534.50

And I’m not finished yet. I need one more bra and an extra top or two going into summer, I’ll also need a hat or visor or some sort, and by late fall I’ll need to buy Gortex shoes because on colder days I’ve had problems with numb feet and white toes.

I can understand and justify most of these expenses, but I have to confess to an element of bewilderment. I imagine there are people—lots of them—running across the open spaces of this world for much greater distances and at twice my speed, equipped with nothing but shorts, a shirt (maybe), and bare feet to keep them going.

So is my $534.50 outlay a reflection of Western values, wherein we spend money and buy stuff for everything? Or does it reflect the reasonable cost of running for fitness as a middle-aged person living in a variable climate? I’m not sure, but something seems terribly, terribly out of whack even before I spring for a watch that tracks my mileage and time, electrolyte pills to keep me going, a trigger point therapy kit, a second pair of shoes to alternate, a fancier iPod, etc.**

*The water bottle. Determined to keep costs in line, I bought a cheap, $4 water bottle at Tuesday Morning about two weeks ago. I used it once. The thing was too heavy, too big to comfortably hold, and attached to a wrist strap that was too springy to be useful. After one run with this sucker, I went out and bought the $20 contoured model with an adjustable strap and zipper pocket. I still think Jeff, the owner of Fleet Feet, planted the cheap ones at Tuesday morning to prove a point about cost vs. value.

**I won’t be buying any of these items, fyi. I cannot imagine the day that I will run far enough or fast enough to require electrolyte supplements or a technical device to track my “speed”, especially when my fastest time to date is 29 minutes for 3 miles.

5 Responses to “My “Cheap” Hobby”

  1. goldsteinrita says:

    So, how many months of membership at the gym you would not go to would your $535 buy. I think this is a better deal since you are enjoying it and more importantly…doing it!

  2. Amanda says:

    I agree with your mom. If you like it enough to do it and stick with it, it’s worth it. Otherwise you’re just donating to the Y.

  3. Amanda says:

    Besides, everything has a cost.

  4. christine says:

    You’ll have to check out the Lululemon (butt enhancing!) and See Jane Run stores when you’re here. Both on College Ave. You’ll love ’em!

  5. blg says:

    As everyone says, the important thing is that you are doing it.
    And when you have more experience, you will be better able to judge what is worth spending money on and where you can cut corners.
    *And* I imagine you would be less likely to stick with a program where you had to wear dorky, ill-fitting, bargain clothes.

    Keep it up!

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