I’m a Florida beach bum who moved to NYC with $200 in my pocket and am currently tapering to run my first marathon this Sunday– the ING New York City Marathon! (I’m kind of freaking out about it. Like big time.)
While I haven’t actually run a marathon yet, I trained 26 weeks and am ready to show NYC what I’ve got. I graduated college a little over a year ago and since then have creatively learned how balance an entry level salary, repaying student loans and NYC expenses– aka the real world. Budgeting can be a little tough at first, but with a little help from Mint.com, it actually can be kind of fun!
With that, here are my tips on How To Train For a Marathon on A Budget:
Don’t give into a fuel belt, unless you really really need to.
Find running paths with a lot of public water fountains and you can even hold a water bottle in your hand! I won’t lie, it can get annoying at times, but after a few miles you tend to zone out and forget about it. Money Saved: About $50
Buy GU in bulk on Amazon.com
Find your favorite flavor and order it in the 24-count box. Just make sure to order it well in advance of your scheduled long run! Money saved: A few dollars.
Forever 21 tank tops and Target Shorts FTW
As comfy as Lululemon sounds, it’s just not in my budget. Maybe one day! If you’re training during the summer, I highly recommend F21’s colorful $4-6 tank tops in their basic’s section. They’re light, airy and get the job done. Target also holds a special place in my thrifty heart for their spandex shorts. I bought my current pair about 2 years ago and they haven’t let me down! Money saved: $50+
Shop til you drop at Trader Joe’s
During training, your appetite will increase like a crazy person. While it’s nice to consume food like a vacuum cleaner, just remember that your grocery and restaurant bills may also skyrocket during this time. Therefore, take advantage of Trader Joe’s inexpensive products so that your fridge will be well stocked and you’ll be a happy runner. Money Saved: $50-$100/month
Wash your workout clothes under hot water after your run.
This little trick is my favorite. Especially in NYC, doing laundry can be the biggest hassle. To save your sanity and a little laundry money, wash your sweaty sports bra, dry-fit shirt and shorts under hot water right after your run. Taking a shower? Knock out two birds with one stone and wash your clothes while you’re in the shower. Mmm sweat. Money saved: A few dollars.
Track your distance using the Runkeeper App
As much as I drool over the Garmins on Amazon.com, I can’t complain that Runkeeper gets the job done. From my experience, the Runkeeper GPS distance measurement is about 80% accurate. So I don’t freak myself out if I actually did just run 16 miles, I usually chart my run on either MapMyRun.com or Google Maps before trekking out for a long run. Money Saved: $130+
Running for charity? Ask your job to sponsor you.
Don’t be afraid to ask your boss about getting the whole company involved in your fundraising. You’ll be surprised how supportive they can be! Send out an internal email to coworkers announcing “Jeans Week” where they can donate $10 to wear jeans the entire work week. You can even suggest holding an office bake sale to raise money. If your boss truly believes in the cause, they might even cover your entire fundraising goal! Remember that it doesn’t hurt to ask. Money potentially raised: $3,000+
Make a crap ton of ice cubes at home before your long run.
Little things add up during marathon training, even buying ice to ice your knees after long runs! Money saved: $10+ over the length of your training schedule.
Goody StayPut Hairbands > B.I.C. Bands
The Goody Extra Thin Secure Fit Headbands are fly-aways worst nightmare (that should be in their ad campaign, no?) When it’s sunny out, I usually wear a hat to keep my hair and the sun out of my face, but for night time runs, it’s all about the headbands. I bought 5 Goody Hairbands for $6 in Target and I swear, they don’t budge an inch. Money Saved: $44 compared to buying 5 B.I.C. Bands.
Don’t register for races. Just wing it on marathon day.
Ok, so this might not be the best advice, but it’s a true “fresh out of college-life” story. I’ve always wanted to run a race. A real race. Did I mention I’m going Couch to Marathon in 4 days? Gulp. The $30-50 entry fee always made me feel a little guilty financially-wise, so I’ve never actually signed up for one. Livin’ life on the edge I tell you. Races not participated in: A lot.
Hope these tips help!
Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @ShannonAMay if you guys have any questions.
Your turn! How do you save money on your workouts?