November 2018

The cost of the free sport

We’ve all read the title. Running is free. All you need is trainers, some might say you don’t even need them.

Once we add up the cost of a winter kit, a summer kit, a mid-season kit, a racing kit, a cross-training kit. A local race, a charity race, a world major, an international race, a national race. Is this running-malarkey really free?

First things first, kit. Let’s start from the bottom up. Most costs are from a basic Google shopping search, I mean where else would you start?

  • Socks – £1.99-£32.70
  • Trainers – £19.99-£215.80
  • Running leggings – £4.00-£129.95
  • Gloves -£1.49-£57.95
  • High impact sports bra -£6.99-£59.00
  • Base layer – £4.99-£100.00
  • Running jacket – £5.00-£208.76

And that’s without specialist bone-conducting headphones, the fancy running-watch and the headband that WILL make you run better.

Based on this, at the lowest cost of your running kit is £44.45. Yes, it’s likely cheaper than a monthly gym membership but the more you run, the more kit you need, the more specialist kit you need – we’re talking getting your GAIT done and likely paying approx. £100-£120 for a pair of trainers that need replacing every 400-500 miles. 

Of course, we need to remember it’s all relative to each individual’s own needs and expectations. For example, as a Couch to 5k beginner I didn’t spend the money for the reason that I didn’t know if I’d carry on. Once I carried on though and wanted to push myself more, that’s when I started to spend.   

So now we’ve got the kit, we’re running regularly, it’s natural to want (or maybe it’s the pressure) to take part in running event. 

parkrun is a free, weekly, timed event and though we don’t get a medal, is a cost-defective way to end up with a timed run once-a-week. 

Aside from parkrun and if you want to earn a medal/t-shirt it’s time to fork out. I mean, free kit AND a medal?

5k – it’s time to admit, I’ve never paid to enter a 5k event so, based on a Google search, £11 – 15. 

10k – in my experience you can be paying anywhere from £13 – £25 for a 10k, on average you’re looking at £17 for a local-UK based event.

Half marathon – ranging from £20 up to £45 – usually depends on the company. An event put on my a running club you’re looking at the lower end whereas a big corporate money-maker is likely to charge more. 

Marathon – the World Major’s are pricey but obviously, as with any event, you can find cheaper by looking more local. Entry for the London Marathon if you’re one of the lucky ones is £39 though further afield in Berlin, the cost reaches £89+.

It very much feels like the more you want to do, then the more you have to spend. I say want over need because what it comes down to is that everybody has a choice. However, with pressure we may face from peers and from the internet, the need to keep-up can become costly.  

For an inclusive sport, is the expense making is exclusive? What’s the most expensive piece of kit you own? What’s the most expensive race you’ve taken part in?

Coming up  – how much running has cost me in 2018.

2 thoughts on “The cost of the free sport”

  1. The most expensive bit of kit I’ve ever bought is my ON Running pants! £135, however with staff discount I paid £108. Still the most expensive bit of kit I have paid for! Apart from my £150 forerunner 35 I was gifted for my birthday! Part of the reason for wanting to join in on events is the community and rewards but I rarely get to enter because it costs so dearly- I refuse to pay for any 5k!


    1. Wow! I tend to ask for pricer items – even down to a sports bra for Xmas/birthday. One of my favourite running tops I’ve bought recently was from Lidl!


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