Frugal Confession: Being Un-Frugal About Fitness Keeps Me Running

August 6, 2012

My latest running gear


I’m still reeling on how much money I’ve spent on running gear this past week, signing up for runs and stocking up on supplements & healthy food. There is nothing frugal about getting fitted for running shoes or signing up for runDisney events that motivate me, but I’m going to take my soap box to defend my spending. Hear me out.


Last week, I spent $200 on new shoes, insoles, running shorts, sunscreen & new wool socks.  I also spent an additional $480+ signing up for running events- so far, I’ve registered for the Los Angeles Rock N Roll Mini Marathon, Tinker Bell Half Marathon, Princess Half Marathon & the Hot Chocolate 5k.  I’m happy to say that while I just dropped a paycheck on running, I feel better than I ever have and I’m actually keeping up with the training and nutrition adjustments I’ve put into place.  Additionally, I’m going to be looking into a new yoga studio to do regular stretches so I can diversify my activity and stay limber.

This last week, I clocked 14 miles. I shocked myself.  14 miles in a week? 25 in two weeks?  Never in my entire life, have I ever spent this much time or money on getting fit- but I have no regrets.  I will say, there are ways to do it cheaper, but if you would have asked me a year ago if fitness could be fun, I wouldn’t have believed you.  Nor would I have believed that I would spend this much money without feeling guilty.  For the first time ever, besides a job interview, clothes aren’t just clothes, they’re an investment.  Having the right shoes really (truly!) does matter.  It’s not cheap, but neither is lookin’ this hot (or it could be the mile I just ran?)


Looking Good & Using What I Bought Motivate Me.

Looking back on my fitness experiences as a youngun, I remember the humiliation of oversized gym clothes and ill-fitting tennis shoes that I hated to wear.  Combine feeling embarrassed about my clothes with being embarrassed about my body (read: chesty girl running=not fun.)  As an adult with the right gear that looks right, fits right & comes in adorable colors, I may not look sexy when I run (read=sweaty.) but it looks like I know what I’m doing!


The Right Gear Prevents Injury.

For the past two months I’ve been using older running shoes that really needed to be retired, I started to notice aches and pains that I didn’t have before.  I got a stern talking to from one of my runner friends, so I marched my butt down to Fleet Feet to get fitted for running shoes.  I was a bit intimidated by the fitting process but now I can use fancy terms like pronation and know exactly what my foot does when it strikes the ground.


I’m A Firm Believer In “Looking The Part.”

When I graduated with my master’s degree in May, I didn’t feel like it was real until I put on my cap and gown.  The same seems to apply to my fitness gear.  I don’t feel like I’m really training until I lace my shoes and put on my neon retina-burning running shorts. But just like with graduation, nothing happens unless you show up.

I always used to skimp on my exercise gear- I never really saw myself as a “fit” person and so my choices in what I wore to the gym or to yoga reflected that, they were an afterthought just like the days I chose to participate.  Now that I’m serious about my life as a runner and have signed up for some big goals, I see that fitness has a real part in my life, and thus, it should have a real place in my wardrobe.  I know it might sound crazy, but what I wear to workout gets as much headspace (and income) as what I wear to work- and at this point I seem to spend equal parts of my life working and working out!


“Fitness” May Be Expensive, But Being Fat Cost Me More.

People who knew me never called me fat, but then again, none of those people lived in this body.  Nobody else got discouraged when I lost my breath after 2 flights of stairs or cursed the heavens in shame when the normal sized blue jeans created that awful muffin top effect.  The only person living in my head and dealing with my body was me but I had relinquished my power and self-image to everything external from myself.  People thought I was beautiful, I totally was, and totally still am- but nobody else knew how unhappy I was about feeling out of control about my health and weight.

Truth be told, while I’ve dropped paychecks on running gear and signing up for races lately, I spent a lot more on diet pills, exercise equipment/gear I didn’t use and of course, other gadgets & garments engineered to shortcut my weight control (or hide it completely.)  Not only did I spend the same amount of money or more, I felt like a total asshat when that money was wasted- and it always was.

Honestly- I think “fat” is a horrible title to put on person.  Fat is a noun for structure/cell in the body, not a label for an entire human being, but there’s something to be said about feeling powerless about your own body.  To invest in others to make you “better,” and to pray to the diet industry that they’ll have the cure you need because you don’t know how to control yourself and you uncomfortable in your own skin.  When I think of all the emotional costs, not just the monetary ones, of relinquishing control and connection with my own body, the price is just too high.


To be honest, the first day I spent money on running gear (around $170) I felt like I’d lost my mind.  Sure, I’d spent more than $170 on “normal” clothes, but seriously, what had gotten into me? Was I really going to do this running thing after years of embarrassment about my body, hatred of being sweaty and PTSD from running in P.E. class as a kid?

Despite all this, I bought the clothes anyway. It didn’t help that the gentleman helping me pick out an outfit was a total hottie…but I digress.  The next day, I put them on and knew when I hit the streets to run, I wouldn’t get very far, but for the love of all things holy, I wasn’t going to waste my money!  I remember wearing the coral shorts & top with my new wool running socks and a running bra that actually did its job, and while I couldn’t run a mile at the time, I knew it was the beginning of a very long, well dressed journey.  I knew I was going to look like a red-faced, sweaty novice… so at least my running clothes looked somewhat professional!


Buying running clothes will not inspire you to get to work and exercise if you truly don’t want the work of making yourself better.   That day though, buying these clothes felt like I was “suiting up” for the most important job interview of my life- a test of my grit with nobody to compete with but myself.

I put on the garb of an athlete, hoping eventually, even if not today, I’d fit the part.




17 comments so far.

17 responses to “Frugal Confession: Being Un-Frugal About Fitness Keeps Me Running”

  1. Laura says:

    Love this! I know exactly what you mean.

  2. Unless you have an incredibly tight budget or are living paycheck to paycheck, I think it’s totally fine to invest in something that gives you a high rate of return-your health. And I totally get how looking the part helps with motivation. I always want to look like one of those girls in a fitness magazine. Cheesy at it sounds, it keeps me motivated.

  3. Bridget says:


    Spending more on exercise apparel has never motivated me more.. at least not long term. I find I’m good for a week and then I’m back to my old lazy ways =\

  4. I actually spent $140 on a pair of running/training shoes–Newton. They are very colorful, but awesome for running, jumping, crossfit, and other trainings that I do to keep in shape. That’s probably the most I’ve spent on work out shoes, but it was worth it to have the right pair of shoes.

    they say you should dress the part you want to play!

  5. There is nothing wrong with spending your money on something that is a priority for you. In fact, that’s the point of setting priorities. If looking the part of the runner helps you actually be a runner, go for it. (And it’s never a bad thing to spend money on equipment that will keep you from injuring yourself.)

  6. Whitney says:

    I know EXACTLY what you mean, especially about the shoes. My only pair of fitness shoes are about 5 years old. They’re ok for machine work and lifing weights I guess, but I really notice a difference, and pain(!), during cardio activities like Zumba and jogging. I keep trying to spend money on new shoes, but I still can’t justify it. One day, maybe, I’ll get new shoes (most likely after le wedding in March 🙂


  7. I’m all for spending a little extra on fitness if it helps ou take things to the next level. Last year I bought a “hydration system” (fancy schmancy water bottle) that makes it so much easier to clock a lot of mileage. I felt silly spending almost $50 dollars on a few water bottles, but then again I’ve been running more since I got them than ever before. Hard to argue with results.

  8. I definitely agree with all of this. Your body is something you will have for ALL of your life – anything that contributes to your health is something you shouldn’t have to feel guilty for spending on! & if events and new clothes motivate you to keep healthy (which i definitely agree that they do), then they’re 100% worth it.

  9. People always tend to stick with things more when you put the money out there. Like a movie-you hate it, but you sit through it because you paid the twelve dollars to be there. Running is a lot like that for me-I paid for the shoes, so I might as well do it. Great post!

  10. I’m really enjoying all of your posts about running, Shannyn! You’re so motivated, and your energy is completely contagious.

    In regard to the money/running connection, I actually found that running had a high activation cost (buying the right gear, registering for a race, etc. – everything you list here), but that over time a running *lifestyle* is actually less expensive. Now that endurance running is such a huge priority of mine, I’m going out a lot less and eating out a lot less, and that’s saving me WAY more money than I spent on new shoes!

    • Shannyn says:

      Totally, it is amazing how running resets your priorities…it’s expensive to start and the races aren’t cheap, but I am getting more out of running than I ever did with shopping. One thing I love is that I’m paying to go to Walt Disney World for a race- it’s not just the day of the race that I’ll enjoy, but the training before hand… and it’s a lot more to experience than a day at a theme park, it’s really a lifestyle when you train for a big race!

  11. rachelle says:

    Theres NOTHIN better than finding ways like this to keep yourself motivated!! i actually just wrote about this on my guest post for :):)

    I hope you check out my fb page! i just started it but im tryin to help motivate people in other ways…the kitchen! keep it up frugal beautiful! !:-)


  12. alice says:

    I think it’s totally ok to spend more on your health, especially if it increases your fitness level and it will definitely pay for itself as you get older. I was never an exerciser at all until about a year ago I started taking a group exercise class. It’s seriously the only thing that has ever clicked with me, so even though the classes are expensive, I decided they were worth it. I feel this way about food too (an important part of health) so try to eat fresh and organic if I can. Am enjoying your blog!

  13. Rebecca says:

    Great points! I feel the same way about the money I spend on fitness and eating healthier. It’s not frugal, but it’s worth it in the end! I actually think running is one of the cheapest ways to stay fit because you don’t need a gym membership that you’ll pay every month. All you need is a good pair of sneakers and they should last you a good long time.

    P.S. I’m really liking your blog 🙂

    • Shannyn says:

      Thank you so much Rebecca, I’m checking your blog out now too! I think eventually I will start going to a gym but right now, my most affordable option is to work out on the streets and enjoy the free terrain of running, I absolutely love it. I love that I can see people’s handywork and gardens as I run, there’s always something to keep me interested…better than a gym with a TV!

  14. Thank you for this great contribution!

  15. Rosie says:

    I was reading through your old posts about running (since I’m a new runner myself) and wow…love those shoes! I think I’ll stick with my plain old blue Nikes..they’re a little less loud, haha!


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