Power Marketplace’s public service journalism 💙 Give Now

The high price of running

Jen Miller Nov 17, 2011

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.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.  

This is NOT a paywall. 

Marketplace is community-funded public service journalism. Give in any amount that works for you – what matters is that you give today.