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The big expense of marathon training

November 2, 2014

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By Flickr user lululemon athletica

Last week, we told you about the upfront costs for running a marathon. On Sunday, perhaps you got fired up watching the New York City marathon and decided, “I’m going to give it a try next year!”

But the financial burden of marathon running isn’t only in the cost of the event. Training can be just as expensive.

  • Good running sneakers (arguably the most important item) can cost $100-200, and if runners follow guidelines of replacing them every 300-500 miles, the average athlete could easily use two pairs during training as they log between 30-50 miles a week.
  • Power gels, protein bars, sports beans, electrolyte powders, etc, are common fueling options for runs, since nourishment is needed to replenish calories burned. Average runners will consume at least one item about every hour, and a long training run could take four or more hours. Most of these bars or gels (which are lightweight and easy to transport) usually range from $1- $3 a pop. That’s at least $8 dollars, just for snacks on a Sunday run.
  • When it comes to gear, some things are needed, like quality moisture-wicking shirts/shorts and pants to avoid chafing issues, and are typically about $30 each. A pair of higher end Lululemon running pants will cost over $100. Female runners will need a few really good sports bras, usually ranging from $30-60 dollars.
  • Techie gadgets like heart-rate monitors or fitness trackers or running earphones aren’t mandatory, but they are prevalent and pricey. Here, the amount spent is totally dependent on individual preference, but could cost thousands of dollars.

And then, there are the costs of wear and tear on your body.  Many opt for frequent massages or chiropractor visits (which could be $50 – $100 a visit), or physical therapy if there are commonly occurring running issues involving knees or plantar fasciitis.

Add in gym fees, for treadmill access for those who can’t run outdoors, or who do cross-training, and that’s another $20-$200 per month.

Then there’s the question of how much is time worth?

Because a marathon training is quite the investment. Running 30-50 miles a week is roughly 6-12 hours a week (depending on speed). For those with kids, it takes a village to juggle schedules (especially if in a multiple runner household), or for single parents may involve  a potentially pricey babysitter.

With all these costs, even a frugal runner will likely shell out close to $700 in costs associated with one race, but typically one could spend significantly more.


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