My Marathon Spending Diary – 1st Update!

Thank you all for your feedback on the “spending diary” idea I proposed in my last post. In case you missed it, I floated the idea of keeping a running/marathon spending log to hold myself accountable to saving money and cutting out material excess during my journey to the Chicago Marathon.

You may think it’s a little early to roll this out but believe it or not, I have already dropped money on the Chicago Marathon, so here we go!

Some background: Part of what inspired this idea was a New York Times article I read this year called “The $1600 Marathon,”in which author and runner Jen Miller breaks down how much it really cost her to run the New Jersey Marathon this year.

It’s not my place to comment on how others spend their money, so I won’t do that. But the article did make me wonder how much it truly costs me to run marathons, and what I can do in the future to get some of those costs down. I hope I can show that with a little bit of hard work, creativity, and mindfulness, it is possible to run a marathon without breaking the bank.

The difficult thing about spending logs, for comparison purposes, is that they are so unique to the individual – we all come into a marathon training cycle with a different amount of accumulated resources and experiences. If I were completely new to running and marathons, for example, I would have to spend a lot more money on gear than I plan to spend. Just something to keep in mind throughout the process.

Jen Miller breaks her $1600 into different categories; if you’re curious about those categories or why she spent money on certain things, I encourage you to read the article (linked above). I think it will be easier for my log to just track each of my marathon related purchases as I go along, and worry about categorization later. Each thing in my log will have a note about how I got to that amount and why I spent the money, as I’m hoping this experiment, if successful, can be a little educational. If there is something that I don’t plan to spend money on but is still a common expense for marathoners – e.g. gym memberships or training plans – I will include it as a $0 expense with a note about how I got the amount to zero. I believe that to illustrate the process of saving money, it’s just as important to include what I’m not spending money on.

I’ll do a blog post with an updated tally and notes each time I spend more money, but I’m also going to make this into a “page” on my blog (see the header on my blog page – “home” and “about” are pages) to have it all in one place and accessible at any time.

So, without further ado, here is your first update from my marathon spending long!


minimal marathoner Marathon Spending Log: purchases as of 11/02/2016

Race Fee: $195.00.
The cost to officially register for my goal race, the Chicago Marathon.

Notes: Yikes – not off to a great start! Of course I would sign on to a minimalist marathon training cycle and then choose one of the three most expensive marathons in the country to run. But the experience of running a World Marathon Major will be unforgettable, and I’m hoping this will help hold me accountable to my spending in other areas. The fact that I’ve already spent so much just on the registration is greater incentive to cut costs in other areas.

Would-be marathoners out there, don’t fret! This isn’t the norm. The average marathon entry fee, depending on how early you register, is in the ballpark of $100. Many of them also offer special deals and coupons throughout the registration period that you can take advantage of to possibly snag a lower price. Also, some bigger marathons have charity programs that you can run with, where in exchange for raising funds on behalf of the charity you can get your race entry paid for.


TOTAL: $195.00

 

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19 thoughts on “My Marathon Spending Diary – 1st Update!

  1. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your spending diary. I always wonder how other folks navigate the costs of athletic hobbies.

    I don’t even want to *know* how much my Ironman cost, all told…

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    1. Oof…even I don’t want to know how much your Ironman cost all told! At least you’re only crazy enough to do it once ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  2. This is a great idea and will be hugely helpful and educational.

    I was just talking to the wife yesterday about this. I was discussing trail vs road races with her. My half marathon road race in Feb coat me around 100 with discounts. My trail race in Dec coat me around 70 and that was late registration. Road race pricing is crazy these days.

    But I have to agree, running an epic race is totally worth breaking the budget a bit. Look forward to seeing the spending diary as it evolves.

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    1. Woof. I can barely stomach a marathon that costs $100, but a HALF? And that’s WITH discounts? No way, lol. At least you got a sweet PR there.

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  3. This is funny to me cause just the other day, I was setting my race schedule for next year and my costs we’re getting to 800. I wasn’t even through planning out the year yet either. I sadly had to cut several races out of my agenda. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ good luck on your minimalist training!

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    1. Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚ Races in general are ridiculously expensive, and those costs can add up so fast. I will be cutting back a lot on my own racing this year.

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  4. I love this idea, Hanna! I’m really interested to see what the total cost ends up being for you . . . and can already feel the wheels turning in my brain trying to calculate what I spent running Chicago last year ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Thanks! Yeah…it’s not gonna be a cheap one, that’s for sure. Time to get creative, choose races more selectively, and start sucking up to my Chicagoland acquaintances!

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  5. I suspect you’ll do great at saving in other areas to offset reg. My marathon reg was $26.20, but I more than made up for that with 4 months of custom coaching!

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    1. Dang, that is one cheap marathon! Good for you going with a local race and keeping those costs down. But like you allude to, I think we have a subconscious tendency toward equilibrium in all things (spending, weight loss, decluttering, etc), and often times saving a ton of money in one area makes us more tempted to splurge elsewhere. I’m still not thrilled about paying $200 for a race, but I’m at least grateful that it’s forcing me to be more mindful with my spending in other areas. Needless to say, a race this pricey will likely be a one-and-done for me though.

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  6. I look forward to reading how this evolves. It makes me scared to reflect and think about how much I spend on races, etc. I usually just think about the registration…I am already making excuses…”if I wear the clothes for more than just running, does it count?” “it’s an investment in my future health…” I know I spend more on running gear than regular clothes…

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    1. I also spend more money on running clothes than regular clothes. I am terrified to tally up the amount of money I’ve spent on workout gear I didn’t need and maybe even only wore a couple times. I used to view this as a point of pride – I value my health and exercise! – but excess is still excess, and a lot of my running clothes were bought for the same reasons people by regular clothes – vanity – to look “cuter”. I think the fact that it’s so much easier to justify buying running clothes (“it’s for my health!”) means I need to be even more mindful about my spending.

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  7. I’m VERY interested in seeing how much it costs you to train for and run Chicago minimally!

    Last year I did a summary of my costs of running Chicago as an out-of-state charity runner and it came out to $1359 (but I didn’t include the cost of shoes, food/taxi in Chicago or anything I would normally buy as part of training for any race). I compared that to running Portland as an out-of-state runner and that cost me just around $1500 (again not including shoes, food/taxi in Portland or normal training stuff). The majority of the cost for both was the plane tickets and hotel rooms, naturally. I think in total I spent about $2,000 on each of the races.

    That’s why I really had to postpone Chicago this year. Having tallied up my expenses for Chicago and Portland last year, I knew that money would be better spent here in Florida on all of our new house needs. Running may be an inexpensive sport to begin participating in, but racing sure can get expensive if you allow it to!

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  8. Ugh the Chicago marathon entry fee was so huge! I guess I understand that holding a marathon in such a huge city is going to cost a lot of money for the race organization, so of course some of that cost is going to transfer to the runners. It was such an amazing experience that I don’t regret paying the money, but it’s definitely not something I’d be willing to pay for every year! I’m interested to see how the rest of the marathon cycle spending turns out…good idea!

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  9. I’ve thought about the cost of races per year, which is in part why I stick to one marathon a year. My husband and I decided to combine CIM with a vacation this year, so it is both more (more days in a hotel) and less (we would have gone to Yosemite soon anyway so why not combine trips. But I do sort of hack around the cost – I buy my running shoes at REI when I can to receive the dividend (and they carry my Kinvaras!), I only getting running clothes on sale or if I really need an item, I stopped buying individual gels and buy my fuel in bulk, and we eat at Whole Foods vs a restaurant the night before a race.

    But also – like Jen, my job revolves about running: coaching, writing about running, and working with companies involved in running. Races could be almost counted as a business expense in some ways, although not all of the details around them would be.

    At the same time, Ryan and I had a discussion once after we piled up a few podiatrist bills from running on hiking injuries. Yes, sports can be expensive, but they sure as hell beat out sitting on the sofa and missing out on enjoying your passions to the fullest. Money should be spent wisely, but don’t miss out on living either.

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    1. I definitely agree that many of the costs associated with running are worth it, but I think the key is in determining exactly which ones. I think we can all admit that a lot of running spending – or any spending, really – is based more on cultivating an image than adding actual meaning to our lives. It’s really not about how many dollars you spend or don’t spend, but rather, just being more mindful about where your money goes. We live in a consumerist society and product marketers are very, very good at what they do, convincing us that in order to be happy and enjoy the experiences we claim to value over material things, we need to buy their products and gear. Most reasonable people can discern between a cost associated with an invaluable experience (i.e. running a marathon) and the costs of material things we don’t really need…but, its amazing how much you can potentially save by just paying more attention.

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    2. I definitely agree that many of the costs associated with running are worth it, but I think the key is in determining exactly which ones. I think we can all admit that a lot of running spending – or any spending, really – is based more on cultivating an image than adding actual meaning to our lives. It’s really not about how many dollars you spend or don’t spend, but rather, just being more mindful about where your money goes. We live in a consumerist society and product marketers are very, very good at what they do, convincing us that in order to be happy and enjoy the experiences we claim to value over material things, we need to buy their products and gear. Most reasonable people can discern between a cost associated with an invaluable experience (i.e. running a marathon) and the costs of material things we don’t really need…but, its amazing how much you can potentially save by just paying more attention.

      Like

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