Running Costs Much More Than You Think
September 6, 2009  |  Marathon Training

Many people get introduced to running because of the low costs to start with the sport. All you truly need is a great pair of running shoes and you’re ready. But in a recent article, Runner’s World mentioned of an economist named Justin Wolfers.

In an essay Mr. Wolfers authored which you can read and listen to over here, he argues:

Runners World magazine recently argued that marathon running is an incredibly cheap sport. [ED: We did?] All you need is a pair of shoes, and you’re off and running. But they’re wrong.

You see, they were emphasizing the out-of-pocket cost, which is small. But the foundation of all economics is something called opportunity cost. It says that the true cost of something is the alternative you have to give up.

So each hour that I spend running is an hour that I don’t spend hanging out, working, or sleeping. … By my calculations my 16-week training program comes at an opportunity cost of several thousand dollars.

Timephoto credit: apesara

First off, even though this makes perfect economical sense, I give my happiness much more value than a monetary amount. I do respect Mr. Wolfers opinions but come on man! What I have gained physically, emotionally and spiritually from running, I can honestly put no monetary value on. On top of that, I have learned more about myself through running because of my failures.

Sure, there are sometimes that you could do other activities that may give you more value than running. It could be something like reading an article for that big meeting tomorrow or watching the season finale of Fringe (…maybe not). But, there are times where running is the best thing you could do for yourself to get grounded.

When I went through some tough times where I had a lot on my plate, I would resort to running. That period of time that I would run felt like a “pause on life”. Nothing else matters at that point except relaxing.

Maybe I’m being too harsh on this perspective on running but I believe there’s a fine line where my health comes before money. I wouldn’t give up any physical activities that keep me feeling fresh and alive just so I can make more money.

But take this same perspective of how much your training will “cost” you and take a look at your journey to the marathon. Do you believe that you will be able to successfully run this marathon? Are you committed to put in the time and effort into training for your next marathon?

The reason you need to answer these questions honestly is because you don’t want to waste your time with something YOU don’t believe in. There is no such thing as you’re too old to run or too fat to run; these are all excuses. We all have infinite potential but to tap into that potential, you need to believe that you can accomplish the goals that you set out for yourself.

There is a lot of talk on choosing worthy goals that will have a great return in the long run but are your goals worthy of you? That is what I want to leave you with today. Get a clearer reason behind why you are running your next race. If you are just running because you kinda-sorta want to …you are going to flush those “thousands of dollars” in no time amigo.

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  • Michelle @ Find Your Balance

    I find that whatever I’m passionate about is worth every cent I invest. I don’t even notice the money because I too thrilled to be doing it. Such as a 40 hour advanced yoga teacher training I’m doing next week. Did I REALLY need to spend $900? Apparently yes, and I can’t wait!

  • The Economics of Running « Full Steam Marathon

    [...] Running Blue Print discusses the essay here. [...]

  • Richard

    Hey Nehal. Love the blog! I found it when I was Googling this essay by Justin Wolfers.

    I’m training for my first marathon in March 2010 and I started my own blog to track my progress and share everything I learn along the way. I’d like to add you to my Blogroll. Would you mind? Also, would you be willing to return the favor? Either way, I’ll keep subscribing in my Google Reader.

    Thank you!

  • Mike

    It’s true, running can get expensive but as a triathlete let me tell you it can get way more expensive…

    Mike @TheIronYou

  • Mike

    It’s true, running can get expensive but as a triathlete let me tell you it can get way more expensive…

    Mike @TheIronYou