Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Real Cost of Running

There are those who say that you can’t put a price on running. All you need is the open road and a pair of shoes. Those people obviously didn’t get my last VISA bill.
A few weeks ago I ran my second half marathon and I decided to foolishly calculate the expense of the excursion. After all, the entry fee was only $85.
Let’s start at the beginning. You can’t run naked. Or, at least you shouldn’t. Well, at least I shouldn’t, so let’s look at the basics.
Do not underestimate the value of a good undergarment. Being of the female persuasion, I require a sports bra. And, only Lulemon’s TaTa Tamer will do. Because, unfortunately my TaTa’s require a fair amount of taming. Actually, most days they require a crane or an antigravity chamber (what can I say, I’m 44) but in a pinch the Lululemon bra works for me. A cool $50. Luckily, my basic underwear seem to be working out so no added expense there.
Moving on to the socks. Apparently, when you run you require special socks. I’m not completely sure why that is but I’ve been made to believe it is a universal truth like gravity or inertia. Since most of my training was done in the winter I required socks made out of ‘Smart Wool’.  As opposed to what, I ask you? I’ve never seen Dumb Wool for sale and at $20/pair I want to see a copy of the IQ test they administered in order to choose only the intellectually superior sheep to make my socks.
Shoes. Most of us use them unless you are a barefoot runner in which case you will probably pay more for your runners that are made to look and feel like you are still in your bare feet. How’s that for great marketing? And, I’ve read that you should have 2 pairs of runners, because, like human beings they require recovery time. Seriously? They are a piece of clothing people, not a pet. Nevertheless, I have 2 (or more but who’s counting?) pairs at approximately $150/pair.
In the winter, layering is the key. You require a base layer, an insulating layer and an outer layer on the top half, each about $50 a pop. And, being in Canada it truly is necessary. The base layer needs to be something called moisture wicking which, in layman terms means it is made from some chemically altered petroleum based material that holds the smell of human sweat FOREVER. You can wash it, wash it again, hand wash it, soak it in baking soda for a week, then hang it out to dry for a month and it will still smell like a dirty gym bag. Or, you can buy special engineered detergent to do the job for $15. I have a conspiracy theory that both products are produced by the same corporate company, kind of like hackers and anti-virus software; one can't exist without the other.
Body Glide is required because chafing happens in the most inopportune places. I don’t know what’s in it, or how it works, but I love it. You just rub it on the places in danger and it prevents ugly, nasty, oozing chafing. It is the best $10 you’ll ever spend.
Okay, apparently staying hydrated is important in long distance running so you need a fuel belt. No, this has nothing to do with the price of crude oil, although runners often produce a lot of gas. It is a belt you wear that can hold your water bottle(s). Unless you are a camel, you will cave and pay the $50 for a decent one.
Gu, glorious Gu is a substance made of glucose polymers unfit for human consumption that, if eaten when not running could put even the heartiest of athletes into a diabetic coma for life. Runners eat these gels during long runs to keep their blood sugar up in hopes they don’t completely deplete the glycogen stores in their muscles. And, wait for it, some flavours have caffeine! Awesome, toxic and addictive.  My favourite flavour was chocolate outrage (rocket fuel) until I discovered that the caffeine sped up my digestive system (see previous post The Real Victory). Now, I stick to the mint chocolate because it doesn’t have caffeine and I am less likely to visit every porta potty en route. These little packets will run you about $2.00/pop and you’ll need about 2 or 3 on every long run.
If you run at night you should wear an outer layer with reflective materials and lights. That way, cars can see you right before they hit you. For lights, it’s red on the back and white on the front. A nice magnetic flasher can run you about $20.
I live in Canada. There is the moment when you realize you’ve got to stop whining and put on a toque and get on with it. A good hat, balaclava (see previous post Interlude), and gloves are all required and they run between $20 - $50. And, if you don’t want to fall on your butt on snowy days a pair of YakTrax will run you about $40.
If you run, you will want to use a GPS watch. It tells you how slow you are really going. A very depressing device, really, but a necessary evil if you want to keep track of your mileage.
Research shows that music can help an athlete run 20% faster. Ipod required at $150.
Now, I had to buy 2 stainless steel cooking pots @ $40/piece because of my training. During the week I went to a running clinic ($69.95 incidentally) and my family was left to their own devices to make supper. I’ve been working on encouraging them to use less water while cooking. Unfortunately, this water conservation backfired for boiling potatoes. I could smell the burn the second I entered the house after run club. Needless to say I was not pleased when I also saw the burn mark on the old laminate counter. I was just getting over the incident when I came home the next week and was met with the same odour.
Then I saw it. I look at the counter where the burn mark was last week and see a huge hole right through the entire laminate the size of quarter. Maybe I should also include the price of the new granite counter I’d like to get to replace the old counter in the running cost.
Like an old car, I require maintenance after so many miles. Ten visits to the chiropractor @ $35/shot and 4 visits to the RMT @ $60 (I get a deal).
I took a bus to the race. It was a great price, only $25. I needed a bag to carry all my stuff in and splurged on one for $50.
Let’s break it down
Sports Bra  $50
Socks  $20
Leggings:  $75
Outer leggings   $70
Moisture wick shirt  $50
Insulation layer:  $50
Outer layer  $80
Shoes (2 pair)  $300
Fuel Belt: $50
Lights (2)  $40
Hat  $30
Mitts  $40
Balaclava  $40
Body Glide  $10
Clinic  $70
Race Fee  $85
Gu  $20
Athletic Bag: $50
Bus Fee: $25
Yaktraks: $40
Stainless Steel Pots (2) $80
Chirpractic and RMT visits: $540
GPS Watch $200
IPod  $150
Total:   $2,165 and that doesn’t even include my granite countertop!
I have to say all this equipment really did help my running.  I never ran faster than after I opened my VISA bill!

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