15 Money-Saving Tips for Runners

How to Save Money on Running

One of the many things I love about running is that you don't have to spend a lot of money to enjoy the sport. But, even so, there are still ways you can save money on your running habit. Check out these tips for running on a budget:

Buy old models of your favorite running shoes.

Christine Luff

Like car dealerships, running stores try to clear out last year's models of running shoes when the new models come in. The old models are usually almost the same shoe, but at a much cheaper price. Some runners stock up on old models when they go on sale. You can also search the Internet for older models of your favorite running shoes.

Shop around for inexpensive running clothes.

You don't have to spend a lot for good quality, technical fabric running clothes. Check out Target's C9 by Champion line of technical fitness wear. They're reasonably priced, but still very high in quality and performance. Old Navy's performance fleece line also has some great pieces, such as jackets and vests, for outdoor winter running. You may also want to check out stores such as TJ Maxx or Marshall's (if they're in your area), which have racks of discounted name-brand fitness apparel, sometimes as much as 50% off the "department store" price.

Look for free training groups.

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Don't assume that you have to pay for a trainer or coach to improve your running or train for a specific race. Many running stores offer free coached workouts and runs. Although you won't get one-on-one coaching, you'll get the benefits of working with an expert and staying motivated with other runners.

Many races offer free training runs to registered participants (another great reason to register early). If you're training for a specific race, check the race website to see if they have any organized training runs scheduled.

Make your running shoes last longer.

It's important to replace your running shoes every 300 to 400 miles, but getting new shoes every couple of months can get expensive. To make your running shoes last longer, don't wear them for anything other than running or working out. Even if you're just walking around, you're still wearing out the cushioning. Keep your running shoes in a cool, dry place where they can air out properly. Don't leave them in places like a gym bag or a hot trunk. If you need to clean your shoes, use a scrub brush, mild soap, and cold water, and then let them air dry.

More Tips for Making Your Running Shoes Last Longer

Buy running shoes, clothes and gear online.

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I love giving running specialty shops business but, unfortunately, their prices tend to be higher than some websites. Search sites such as Sierra Trading Post for deals on running clothes, running shoes and gear. Lots of runners also find great deals on eBay.

Plan your race schedule ahead of time.

Most races give discounts –- some pretty significant -– for early registration. Sign up early for races that you know you definitely want to run, especially those that you run annually. You'll save some bucks and give your motivation a boost at the same time.

Volunteer at races.

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Race organizers are sometimes desperate for more volunteers, so they offer incentives, such as free race entries, to volunteers. You can work at the registration table before the race and still run it -- without paying the entry fee. Volunteering at races is also a good way to get free running gear. Some races will give volunteers the same goodie bag as the race participants.

Buy running clothes off-season.

Some of my favorite winter clothes I actually purchased in the spring or summer, when it was too warm to even wear them. I don't know what was more exciting –- the deep off-season discount I got on the clothes or the surprise of pulling out long-forgotten, brand-new winter running clothes when the cold weather hit. At the end of a season, hit the running store sale racks and search online for end-of-season sales. When the weather changes, you'll be glad you were a savvy shopper.

Take care of your technical running clothes.

Christine Luff

If you run regularly, it's a good idea to invest in some technical running clothes. Unlike cotton clothing, synthetic fabrics, such as CoolMax or Dri-Fit, wick moisture away from your skin, so you'll stay dry and comfortable during your runs. However, technical running clothes are not cheap, so it's important to care for them properly. For example, air drying them instead of putting them in the dryer will make them last a lot longer. Get more tips to make your running clothes last longer.

Search the Internet for race discounts.

Many races offer registration discounts through sites like Groupon or other promotions. They usually won't mention the coupon code on the race website, but you can find it if you do a little searching. If you're registering for a race online, do a quick search for online coupon codes. Just type the name of the race and "coupon code" or "discount" into your search engine and see what comes up.

Buy sports drink in bulk.

If you're running long distances, you need to hydrate with sports drinks. Buying individual bottles of Gatorade or other sports drinks can definitely drain your piggy bank. Instead of doing that, get bulk packages or containers of powdered sports drink mix. It's much cheaper and better for the environment, since you can make it in a reusable sports bottles.

Stay injury free.

I'm always amazed when I hear running friends' stories about how much money they spend on injury rehab. Between physical therapy, doctors' visits, massage, acupuncture, the recovery from a running injury can definitely do some damage to your bank account. To avoid the hassle and expense of injury recovery, listen to your body, follow injury prevention tips, and invest in a cheap injury-prevention tool, such as a foam roller.

More: Cheap Long Run Recovery - How to Take a Post-Run Ice Bath
How to Make Your Own Ice Pack

Do local races.

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It's fun to travel to out-of-town races but, let's face it, the cost of transportation, hotel, and meals really adds up. Save time and money by running races closer to home. Added bonuses: The entry fees for local races are usually cheaper and fewer participants means you don't have to deal with a crowded race.

More: How to Find Local Races

Seek alternative "on the run" foods.

Gel packets and energy bars can be convenient ways to get your energy during long runs, but they can be expensive. Experiment with cheaper alternatives during your long runs, such as candy corn, jelly beans, and other candies. Some runners even use honey packets instead of sports gels. If you really like a specific brand of gels, blocks, or bars, buy them in bulk to save some dough.

Make running dates.

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Instead of meeting friends or family members for a meal at a restaurant, make a plan to go for an easy run instead. You'll still be able to socialize and catch up with your friend, but also burn some calories and save money at the same time.

More: 5 Ways to Be a More Social Runner

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