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Running on the Cheap

To be straight up honest running is not an expensive sport.  There are many sports that are much more expensive.  With cycling, it costs upwards of 2,000 dollars for a “legit” bike.  Cycling with an old bike is like running a marathon in Nike frees.  This is just one example but many sports are much more expensive.

Most running shoes cost between 120-150 dollars.  People complain about the cost of running but in reality if you spend time searching for good deals and lower “no frills” races, it’s not an expensive sport or hobby.  With the increase of runners in the population, there is an increase in running product (both expensive and not).  Companies want to make money so it makes sense to create more products for a sport more people are participating in.

The most important thing to spend money on is good shoes.  If you aren’t running in appropriate shoes (for your gait and foot type etc.), you won’t be running for very long.  Many new runners ask me my biggest piece of advice:

Get your gait analyzed and invest in a good pair of shoes.  You won’t look back. Every company designs great shoes but it’s important to really get your gait and feet analyzed.  Like getting a bra fitting, you don’t know what you are missing until you do.  Just by being in the right shoe, your training will immediately improve.  

Don’t go cheap on running shoes. 

After purchasing a good pair of running shoes there are not a lot of other expenses.  Sure there are pieces of apparel that cost over 100 dollars but do you need all that?  No, probably not.

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Since it’s winter time, I’m going to show you an outfit I put together for running in the 30 degree temperature (all for less than 100 bucks).  

winter meme

Nothing in this post is sponsored and there are no affiliate links.

Running in the winter is all about layering.  You can run outside if you layer appropriately.  I hate the cold weather but I have clothes to run in 10 degree (and below) weather.  You can run in colder weather with warmer clothing but I’m a baby.  I’ll run outdoors if it is cold but if it is icy, I normally won’t.

Anyways enough about me and to the running deals: 

Headwarmer: 

In the Spring of 2012, I purchased this head warmer from Walmart.  Since it was Spring it was on sale for 2 dollars.  It’s fleece and it’s warm.  Walmart has some cute headwarmer gems that are 7 dollars at full sale and 2 dollars on clearance.  I have a few cute ones that have worked from 0 degree temperature to 40.

Here is a glamour shot of me using the headwarmer.

Here is a glamour shot of me using the headwarmer.

Cost $2.00

Similar products: Nike head warmer 18.00  (I also have this one and they are very similar).

Jacket: 

One of my all-time favorite running jackets (you’ve seen it on the blog several times) is this Avalanche jacket.  I found it at Marshalls for 5 dollars.  Yes, 5 dollars for a jacket that was originally 60+.  It blocks the wind and keeps me warm.  The downside is it’s not water resistant.

So cold.  Lake Effect 2013

Proof of how much I wear this jacket: Lake Effect Half Marathon 2013 (Roughly 15 degrees+wind chill)

running sucks.

Running my worst 5k ever! (Roughly 25 degrees)

Good times with my brother running

A few weeks ago running with my brother!

Cost: Avalanche Jacket 5.00 (Total Outfit cost 7.00)

Similar items: Northface Denali Jacket $179

To run in conditions that need wind and rain protection I have another jacket. My Nike wind and rain resistant jacket was also $9.98  at TJ Maxx (a season or two ago).  This is my best deal to date.

There are other brands offering a similar wind breaker for 150+ dollars.

I paid 9.98.  The jacket folds and compresses into any sized bags.  It can be worn on top or long sleeves, short sleeves or as just as a wind shield.  It is a great top layer.

Nike Windbreaker 1

via instagram last week

Jacket photo via instagram last week

Cost: 10.00 (total cost 17.00)

Similar jacket: The Oiselle Fleshman Flyer 160.00 

Pants: 

Everlast Pants (22 dollars for both):

I’ve had my Everlast pants since college.  They literally do last forever…and so does my wallet because I’ve had them 4 years and still run in them.  One has fleece lining and one does not.  Black leggings are boring to photograph and they are logo free.

Rocking The Everlast leggings and jacket while I'm not running!  So functional!

Rocking The Everlast leggings and jacket while I’m not running! So functional!

Cost: 22 (total cost 49.00)

Similar pants: the Saucony shield and Nike legging (75 each)

Long Sleeve Top:

With the Christmas over there are a lot of January sales now too.  I haven’t found a long sleeve top I’m in love with but have plenty of base layers.  I found a few long sleeve base layers for sale at Target.  Each is a black top (so boring) but also dry fit material (meaning you won’t chafe) and costed 10 dollars.

Cost: 10 dollars (total cost 59)

Similar options: Nike Dri Fit  70.00 

Two of the most important pieces of winter apparel are gloves and mittens.  Mittens are warmer than gloves so if you get cold easily, that might be the best route for you (it is the best route for me).  If your hands are cold, then everything is cold.

I haven’t found a method to find extremely cheap gloves and mittens.  The best method is to look for deals when the season changes over.  For instance, in March companies will start cleaning out their winter line.  This is the time to buy gloves and mittens.  I found these Nathan Gloves (different color) for 20 dollars last year.  They are the warmest mittens you’ll ever find.

Online at the Cymb (I just googled) they are 25 right now!  It is worth it.

nathan mitten

Cost: 20 dollars (Total cost 79)

Total outfit cost: 79 dollars (21 dollars left to sign up for a 5k) 

In summary my advice is this:

  • Find apparel in the off season.
  • Splurge on the necessary items such as good shoes.
  • Stores such as TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Ross can give awesome deals on clothing.  You can find cute and functional summer running clothes on sale right now…there is no time like the present…literally.
  • You can look cute and not spend a lot with running.

Next week I will talk about a few products I’ve splurged on and I like.

Question for you: Where do you find the best running apparel deals?

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29 responses

  1. I’ve always said that when I am rich I would buy cute running clothes haha. So far I’ve won gift cards to Nike (favorite!!). Otherwise I wait for awesome deals at local stores, that have dropped from their extorted prices. If you’re not careful you’ll get totally ripped off ya know?

    Totally agree about the running shoes!!! Thanks for the awesome links, running is a lot more enjoyable when you’re warm! Take care!

  2. I’m really glad to read that someone else out there is purchasing their running apparel on sale and not spending $100 on a pair of tights. I hate those runner’s world articles that talk about how to put together a running outfit for less than $200 or something (not including shoes). On Wednesday, I wore a t-shirt from a Charleston Marathon race I did in 2013 (included with my registration price), an earwarmer I got for free at a race (thanks to Fleet Feet, I guess I was a running advertisement for them Wednesday night bc it has their logo, but oh well), and a pair of shorts that were $12 at the Under Armour outlet. Shoes are pricey, but I get 20% off at TrySports and they also run sales quite frequently.

    I can always find GREAT deals on clothes especially shopping off season and the racks at the outlet mall here. By far my biggest running expense is race entries, but I’m fortunate to get some discounts on those as well as a few free ones through the local running store team. I honestly don’t mind spending $$ on the race entry if it goes toward a charity or something, but I would feel incredibly guilty or frivolous spending hundreds of dollars on clothes.

    • You always find really good deals Amy. I cannot justify paying 100 dollars for pants. At that point I would rather just join a gym and run inside.

      • My friend actually just gave me some Pearl Izumi pants. She had a baby and cannot wear them anymore. They’re in great shape, only worn a time or two. Her mom works for a pro shop and gets her stuff super cheap. Plus it’s not like you really need to own more than one pair of running pants in SC… I wore pants last night but it’s already shorts weather again.

  3. Awesome post! I love a good deal! Places like H & M and forever 21 actually have some pretty good workout apparel for cheap. Also, if I want like a nice lululemon jacket I will totally look on ebay NO SHAME lol.

  4. AGREED! I just bought two pairs of running tights from Old Navy on major sale ($16 each). I’ve never been a name brand snob, and that totally helps. If it looks good, feels good, and is competitively price, I’ll get it.

  5. Great post Hollie. Totally agree on spending money to find the right shoes. I remember forking out $150 for my first pair of Newtons and thinking – what the hell am I doing? Never regretted spending the money for them. On the running gear front, I get a fair amount of my running clothes from Target when they go on sale. Also, good stuff at T.J. Maxx if you hit them right and 6pm.com as well. Got some $60 Saucony tights for $20 on 6pm. Thanks for the post.

  6. I’ve been buying most of my fitness gear at Winners lately (our equivalent of Marshall’s or TJ Maxx). It can be a pain in the butt to have to take the time to sort through all the racks, but you can really find some sweet deals. That being said, it’s probably time I went ahead and got some proper running shoes since I’ve been running more lately and don’t like the feel of my old ones. Putting that on the to-do list…

  7. It definitely doesn’t have to be expensive. And beyond clothing, people can cut down costs by choosing cheaper/local races, not using big expensive GPS watches (you really can train without!), and skipping music.

    And when it comes to clothing, it doesn’t hurt to be a blogger, either, admittedly.

  8. you’re right, it does not have to be expensive! and quite honestly some of my longest wearing apparel I’ve found in places like TJ Maxx and my ultimate favorite, Nordstrom Rack!! I’ve purchased so many every day long sleeve shirts for $5 there and yoga accessories fairly cheap. I have one pair of Under Armour cold gear fleece lined tights I bought 3 years ago on sale at City Sports and they are still good as gold. But the shoes, yes – don’t skimp on those!

  9. Oh man you’ve found some incredible deals!! I agree with the whole TJ Maxx/Marshall’s and Target thing. That’s where I buy pretty much all of my running clothes! I can’t really afford full price stuff. Great post 🙂

  10. Totally agree.!! You don’t have to spend tons on running. I love to shop online. Or on websites liked vinted where people swap and sell their clothes. So I can sell stuff I don’t wear to get running stuff. I love it.! As a mom, I don’t like to spend a lot on myself. Good article and tips.!

  11. YES to this post! It really is all about the layering. I went running yesterday in 9-degree weather and was fine thanks to those base-, mid-, and outer-layers. 🙂 I would die without my Craft baselayers–total non-negotiable.

  12. I picked up a bright orange jacket from tj maxx last year that is this funky material inside, but rain and wind resistent. It was like $30 and some off brand buts is AMAZING. I wear it with a long sleeve underneath and even then its sometimes too warm and i unzip… Even when the windchill makes it zero degrees here. I love finding deals from marshalls and tjs. I need more leggings though. I have two pairs under armour and one reebok (which i love way more and use under dresses … So warm). Havent found “The One” from those stores yet though!

  13. Oh. And ebay. I know its kind of weird and some people might stick their noses up at it but i have gotten a lot of cheaper oiselle and saucony gear on ebay that is in perfect shape!!

  14. I find my best (re: cutest) running apparel at my local Plato’s closet. It’s basically a high end thrift store. I also get a lot of emails for sales (which I hardly ever look at unless I need something) which has proven very good. Yes yes yes, always take care to get good shoes! I could have avoid so much pain if I wasn’t so cheap and just spent the money.

  15. Anything can be cheap if you want to put the time in to make it cheap. I think it’s worth it having to hunt for sales and stuff instead of just buying the expensive version.

  16. My running shoes came from Marathon Sports (great running shoe store in Boston) so that’s the one “splurge” like you mentioned.

    Most of the rest of my workout clothes are from Target, TJ Maxx, or Kohls. I also can’t imagine spending buckets of money on these items. You have some great finds!

  17. Basically all my workout clothes are from Target and Old Navy. I did score a sweet deal on some Brooks Utopia pants last summer. I would not have paid full price for them.

  18. I’ve found a ton of my UA gear at Marshalls! We also have a Goodwill here that gets Target’s overstock so its new but cheap. You are so right about good SHOES! I love my Mizunos and just wait until the older model goes on sale. Great post!!

  19. I buy all of my running shoes on sale online — running warehouse or 6pm. I know what models I wear, so I just wait until they go on sale at the end of the season. I mostly buy my workout gear at 6pm or at Nike/UA outlet stores but I occasionally splurge.

  20. Yes, yes, yes, I 110% agree that spen money on shoes is critical. You will save hundreds by not having to spend money on injuries from poor shoes!
    Any time mu legs start hurting, I switch to new shoes and the discomfort disappears!
    Also, I wear Kinvaras, and whenever they launch a new model, I buy up the old model for like 60% of the price!

    I am super picky with what I wear as I like to be very comfortable. I agree with a lot of your commenters that outlets like Nike are the way to go!

  21. People have told me they buy their running shoes at Marshalls. Sometimes you can buy last years running shoe model for half price. I’ve done this at both my local running store and on-line.

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