Friday, March 16, 2012

The Expense of This Very "Cheap" Sport

Yesterday I was on the phone with Sarah when she had to go because the UPS truck was at her door with a delivery.  Of course, I gave her shit about her love of on-line shopping and told her that she shops more than I do.  I can't remember the last time I really shopped (besides Christmastime, but that doesn't count) and it's been a really long time since I had a UPS delivery for an on-line purchase.  Not 2 hours later did I receive my e-mail confirmation for registering for the Air Force Marathon.  And I really had to laugh at myself considering two weeks ago I got an e-mail confirmation for two entries into the Marine Corps Marathon.  I suppose I had to eat my words to Sarah.

I hear this often... actually, I say this often, "Oh running is such a cheap sport.  All you need are a pair of shoes, t-shirt and shorts and you can go out your front door.  No gym membership fees needed."  Every heard that?  Ever said that?  While it is true that the act of running is inexpensive, let's break down the cost of running in the Rewwer household (ok, I won't put a dollar amount because John may quit running and ask me to quit also).

I did a big shopping trip at Kroger on Wednesday.  Right after the produce section, my cart automatically migrates to the "health food" section, although I am not sure why Powergels and Clif Shot Bloks are located in that section as they are pretty much nothing but sugar.  I stopped in what I'll call the fuel section and grabbed handfuls of Zone bars, Luna bars and Clif bars.  I also grabbed Power Gel packets, Clif Shot Bloks and Power Cola chewy things.  I grabbed protein bars also.  The average cost of each of these bars is a dollar.  I grabbed at least 25 of the mentioned variety.  Now while that seems like a lot for me, keep in mind that John is in marathon training also (makes me smile just to type that) and Will is currently doing a weekly long run in prep for Sunday's half marathon (makes me REALLY smile to type that).  He doesn't need that type of fuel for shorter runs during the week, but a thirteen year old boy running anything over 10 miles gets whatever the heck he can stomach for those runs.  It isn't like I can grab a bulk of whatever is on sale either.  When doing a long run, you eat whatever works to make you feel good.  And that is different for each of us.  John prefers Shot Bloks (though I tell him he should like what I like), I like gels and real food like pretzels, clif bars, animal crackers, ect.., and Will likes those cola bursts by Powerbar.  We all respond differently to different fuel types.  Once you find what powers your long run, you stay with it.

After continuing through the store and filling my cart with real life food, I made it to the sports drink isle.  Thankfully Powerade was on sale for .59 cents.  Now while I prefer Gatorade any day over Powerade,  I go with the cheapest when it comes to this because my stomach knows no difference... even though I really dislike drinking anything that is bright blue, red or dark purple (Gatorade makes Rain Berry flavor... the lightest possible color of sports drink and very good tasting).

I finished up my trip with a cart loaded full of food to feed a family of six PLUS everything needed to fuel long runs for awhile.  It's never easy to see that total and think of what my bill would be without the running fuel.

Let's then move on to shoes.  Well, there are lots of great running shoes out there at discounted prices.  But of course, I have an affinity for the ones that are not discounted.  Much like running fuel, when you find a shoe that you feel good running in and does not contribute to any sort of running injury or pain, you cling to it and sometimes that comes with a hefty price tag.  I happen to like the Brooks Glycerin and the Brooks Pure Flow.  The Glycerins are not cheap.  But to be able to run many miles in a shoe that works well makes the cost justifiable.  I have found that my shoes are best changed every 3 months right now.  Four if my mileage is lower.  There is also the gear that is cute, functional ($18.00 sweaty bands ARE functional... they just happen to be cute too) and needs to be replaced regularly.  Oh yes, and my Garmin that is not even a year old will not hold a charge longer than one hour as of Tuesday.  Nor did it archive my last 2 runs.  And this is the truth... not a ploy to buy yet the newest Garmin out on the Market.  I am hoping to get my current one replaced for free.  See?  Thrifty!

As I begin to really think about how much money I spend on my hobby (that has really become a necessity so is it really a hobby anymore?), I have to eat my words to Sarah and to anyone else I may think shops "too much".  Without a doubt, one can look at what I spend to be a runner and make judgements about what a selfish and financially wasteful sport it is as well.  Maybe they are right.  But if they lived in my house during a time when I was not running for whatever reason in the past two years, they just may see fit to write a grant so that the federal government could intervene with funding to get me back on my feet again as quickly as possible.  Just ask my husband.

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