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The high price of running

A runner along the beach.

Tess Vigeland: If you're in Philadelphia this weekend, you might want to look before the crossing the street. Not for cars, but for runners in that city's big marathon. For many of them, including commentator Jen Miller, training for this race came with a surprisingly high price tag. But it's a price she's willing to pay.


Jen Miller: Running, it sounds like a cheap sport. Just throw on some sneakers; an old, beat-up t-shirt, shorts and go. Not in 2011, not in a country in the middle of a major running boom.

Let's run down my costs of training for the Philadelphia Marathon, which I will run this Sunday:
-$134 to register for the race.
-$420 for sneakers -- that's the cost for two pairs since I wore through one already.
-$32 for six pairs of sweat-wicking socks.
-Then another $120 for three new pairs of running tights
-And $50 for two new running tops.

Then there's the unrecorded costs: Doing twice as much laundry per week, for example. Driving to and from Fairmount Park in Philadelphia to do my weekly long runs. I've lost count of how much Gatorade I've consumed, and I feel like I'm eating three times as much food because I am hungry all the time. I have had some luck, though. Two years ago, I asked my then-boyfriend to get me something that sparkled for my birthday. Instead, he bought me a Garmin GPS running watch. But that ended up working up because I got this $350 device that tracks my time, pace and distance in real time, for free.

Yes, running is expensive, but here's the thing.: I love every second.

Running is the only time when I'm not tethered to the rest of the world. Some of my runs are 20 miles long. For three hours, no one can call or text. No one can bother me. I'm in better physical condition than I've ever been in my life -- and I was a three-sport athlete in high school.

Sure, I could put the running money into my emergency savings or use it to bulk up my retirement account. But I want to live long enough to get to retirement age. Running keeps me fit and sane. It's a different kind of investment.

Look, I'm never going to be a professional runner, and I've only finished first place in one race -- my little town's 5k. But I will keep running and I will keep paying for that privilege.


Vigeland: Jen Miller writes  for Runner's World and The New York Times. You can find her on Twitter @jerseyshorejen. While you're at it -- follow me @radiotess.

About the author

Jen Miller is a freelance writer and proud denizen of the Garden State. She's the author of "Book a Week with Jen: 1 Year, 52 Books, and the Year of Starting a New Chapter."
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I think for leisure, yes running can be considered as a cheap and simple sports. However, if you wish to pursue it in a professional level, obviously there will higher costs involved. Furthermore, there are so many types of shoes out there in this ever-modernizing era. Whether it is minimalist, cushioned, extra large shoes (http://www.bigshoes.com), or any other types, they all do not come cheap. But if it is something you are passionate about, then there will be no regrets.

I must be reading that wrong: $420 for two pairs of running shoes? I was curious so I looked at Zappos where of the 1213 running shoes listed for women onlyfive pairs were over $200. So I guess it's possible to spend that much, but it does take some effort.

Running doesn't have to be expensive. Yes, buying new shoes every 300-500 miles can add up, but prices can vary for the rest. Races are awesome motivation, but you don't have to run them. I generally do 1 or 2 ~$50 local area races per year, but there are probably plenty of social running groups in your area that can help keep you motivated without having to purchase a race registration. I've bought all of my running shorts and shirts for under $10 a piece at seconds stores and clearance racks. Socks are easy to get cheap too if you purchase them in a "grab bag" style on popular online retailers. Running can be as expensive or affordable as you make it. The most important part is that you are comfortable enough so that you can enjoy the time on your feet! Happy trails!

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