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Being a runner is more expensive than you might think

A survey of American runners found that, when you look at all of the costs in the sport, running really isn't all that cheap

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The Running Shoes Guru surveyed 1,400 runners in the U.S. to find out the average yearly budget of a runner. The Running Shoes Guru is a website that reviews shoes and other running gear, and since they’re involved in the world of running costs, they decided to find out a bit more about how much money runners are spending. The survey looked at shoes, race fees and several other costs runners incur, and they found that, on average, a runner’s yearly budget sits at just under $1,000. One of the most surprising details from the survey is that, regardless of a runner’s level or how long they’ve been involved in the sport, they all spend roughly the same amount of money on running.

Running costs

The survey found that women runners spend 21 per cent more than men, with an average yearly budget of $1,132. Men still spend a lot, too, averaging $937 per year. The average running budget between the two genders worked out to $997 per year. The budgets included race fees, shoes, GPS watches and fitness trackers, apparel and coaching services.

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The survey looked at three different levels of runners: beginners, intermediates and veterans. Beginners are considered to be anyone who has been running for three years or less. Intermediates have between four and eight years of experience, and veterans have been running for more than eight years. The allocation of money varied between these three levels, but the total budget was pretty similar across the board.

Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Shoes, watches and apparel

When it came to shoes, beginners spent the least every year ($285), intermediates second-most ($343) and veterans spent the most ($389). This makes sense, because beginners may not be willing to spend as much on shoes compared to people who have been running for longer. Also, intermediate and veteran runners may have multiple pairs of shoes, like racing flats, spikes or trail shoes, along with their pair for everyday training. Plus, veteran runners likely run more than the other two groups, so they need to replace their shoes more often.

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It’s the opposite with watches and fitness trackers: beginners spend the most ($143), then intermediates ($122) and veterans last ($121). This is similar to the apparel budget, which sees the same order of beginners ($202), intermediates ($189) and veterans ($188).

Again, this isn’t surprising. Apparel and watches don’t need to be replaced as often as shoes. Beginners likely spend more because they’re getting their first watch and filling their closets with running gear that intermediates and veterans already own. Intermediates and veterans of course continue to spend money on apparel and watches, but their costs are likely diminished because they don’t have to start from scratch like the beginners do.

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Coaches and races

For racing, beginners spend the least and intermediates spend the most, but the totals for all three groups are pretty similar, within $30 of each other. The takeaway here? Everyone (generally) likes racing, no matter their level. As for coaches, beginners understandably spend the most, then intermediates and veterans. The younger your running career is, the more guidance you’ll seek.

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Same total, different categories

Despite the variety of costs for the different categories, the survey found that the three levels of runners spend about the same amount each year. Beginners spend the least ($958), intermediates come in second ($994) and veterans spend the most ($1,016).