The adventures of an unlikely pair. Follow us if you dare....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The One About Running On A Budget

Thank you all for all of your comments (and text messages) on my last post about adjusting to marriage, I really appreciate knowing that I’m not just weird, high maintenance and rude. I realized after I started receiving comments and texts that I really should acknowledge just how hard this is on Alex as well; I mean the poor guy just had some girl essentially take over his apartment. I move in with all my stuff, take over his closet, over-fill the kitchen, cover the bed with too many decorative and unnecessary pillows (his opinion on that) bring my 2 dogs, wake him up every morning at 5:00am, drag him to the gym with me each night, and make him watch friends with me all.the.time! The guy is a saint. But all that aside, at the end of the day we are both very blessed to have the things that we do, to have jobs and our health, to have a full house and full kitchen and to most importantly have each other to spend our lives with. Everything else is just pieces of our lives that will always change and evolve as we continue our journey together but what won’t change is each other.

But to continue with the theme of adjusting to married life let’s talk about how marriage has affected my racing schedule; this is a running blog after all and we all know that I love to run my races but this racing season is going to be a little bit different.

In the past when it came to choosing and signing up for races I really had no method to my madness; it was simply, see a race I liked, checked the calendar to see if I had that weekend free and sign up. It didn’t really matter the cost or where is was so long as it was somewhat close and not a ridiculous amount of money. Now my marathons I obviously planned a little bit more meticulously but once I had my marathon picked out I would then just fill in my calendar with half marathons and other fun races to make training less boring.

BUT the price adds up, in both time and money. Just because a race cost $75 doesn’t mean that’s all you have to spend. You have to take some sort of transportation to get there, you might have to buy GU and other gear. Will there be a hotel stay involved? All of that adds up, the sign up fee is just the beginning. Then you have to factor in the time, while I usually run for fun I do a lot of times have a goal in mind and I like to put forth the best effort I can at each race, it did cost money after all so training for it only makes sense to me. So that means time to train and that means time away from something else. Obviously before dating these things were hardly an issue, I only had myself and my time and my finances to consider. Then once I was in a relationship this still wasn’t really an issue because we both respect each other’s hobbies and we wanted to encourage each other to be ourselves even while in a relationship.

Well now things ARE different. Now I have someone else’s thoughts, feelings and opinions to consider when it comes to how I spend money and how I spend my time. While this is not always easy this is something that I WANT to do out of love and respect for my husband. It is something that I knew was coming and have fully accepted (ok maybe not fully accepted but I’m working hard on that part) as a part of my life now because I chose a marriage with Alex over everything else.
So what does this actually mean for my running and racing? As far as running is concerned, not too much, I will still run a lot and I still have goals and things I want to achieve. But as far as racing is concerned it does mean that I probably won’t race quite as frequently as I have in the past. I keep telling myself that ultimately this is a good thing but I love my racing so much.

All of that being said I do in fact have several fun races planned and “not as much racing” doesn’t mean “no racing” I have just had to be more mindful of what I am signing up for and when.

After much (read: many, many) discussion about this I feel like Alex and I have come to the same page as far as racing and hobbies are concerned. For me running is important to me because it makes me feel good about myself the way nothing else has. It allows me to feel successful and accomplished, that’s worth something to me. But as a couple Alex and I also have financial goals, and other goals in mind for us, our marriage and our future and so those things have to be considered as well.

So here are a few tips that I have been using as I am learning to race on a budget:

1.   Plan Ahead! (and choose your races wisely)
This is something that I probably don’t necessarily need to tell a runner, if you run and have a race in mind then most likely you are a natural planner. But in this case I am talking about planning in regards to which race to sign up for and when. For example, Alex and I are on a monthly budget, he’s much better at than I am but I am very thankful for it. Each month we sit down and talk about the expenses we will need for that month, what bills need to be paid, what extra stuff we have coming up and so forth. (Even though we did not live together before we got married we actually started combining SOME of our finances and budgeting together this past winter when we were planning and paying for our wedding ourselves. This has been very helpful to already have established coming into marriage!) We usually each get a little bit of spending money that we can do whatever we want with and so with that in mind I know that over the next several months I will be signing up from one race at a time with a little bit of my spending money. I have to know ahead of time what races I would like to do and I have to know how much they are and when the best time to sign up for them is so I can budget accordingly, and I have to choose wisely since I only get to pick a few!
Another example: I knew a while back that I wanted to run an early December marathon (details next week!) I also knew that I wanted to “go away” for this race. So with that in mind I made sure to sign up early to take advantage of not only the time to save for said trip but also to take advantage of the early bird sign-up fee, which leads me to point 2…

2.   Take advantage of the early sign-up fees.
If you have already planned ahead there are some races that you can do this with, some you can’t though. A lot of races offer scaled pricing and if you sign up very early on you can save anywhere from $10-$40 on your entry fee.

3.   Run for a Cause.
There are a lot of races these days that have charity partners and there are so many to choose from. Sometimes if you agree to raise a certain amount of funds for the chosen charity you can either get a discounted entry fee or sometimes even have it waived. (a word of warning, some fund raising groups REQUIRE a certain fund raising goal and if that is not met then you are responsible for the difference, just be sure and double check before agree to raise a huge amount!) This is something that I actually just did for the previously mentioned December marathon (any guesses yet on what I’ll be running??). There are often perks to running for charity as well, not to mention the fact that you are helping a good cause, so take some time to find out about the charities you are interested in and see if there is a race you can run in their honor.

4.   Become a race ambassador.
I know that this one is often a long shot but it never hurts to at least try! I recently reached out to a couple of races and applied to be an ambassador, one I’m still waiting to hear from but I do know that I will be doing my very first Duathlon thanks to Espritde She! This is something that I have always wanted to do and this provided me with a great opportunity to work with a company that I support as well as do a fun race and try something different.

5.   Volunteer.
A lot of races don’t offer ambassador programs and even if they do you are not always guaranteed to be chosen, but one thing you can do is volunteer. It depends on the race and the company but in the past I have volunteered for races in exchange for entry fees into future races. I find this to be very rewarding! Not only are you giving back to a community that you spend a lot of time in and not only are you getting to enjoy being a spectator for the day but in the end it’s all for something that you really love doing.

6.   Be flexible, find a balance and make sacrifices
This one is one that really is hard for me but the one that I’m working the hardest on. I know that this fall my racing schedule will be very different than it has in the past, but I also know that it’s ok. When I got married I chose to take into account someone else’s desires and dreams along with my own and so making a sacrifice here and there is ok. If I don’t get to run a particular race this year then there is always next year. I plan to use my racing season this year to be more purposeful and focused. I won’t be running as many races and therefore that means the ones that I do get to run have got to count, no bummer races for me. Part of me is excited for that. I have my eye on possibly doing my first ultra early next year and so for that to happen cutting back on races and focusing on distance and back to back weekend runs is probably exactly what I need. I also really want that sub-5 marathon time so hopefully less racing means more time to focus on getting that marathon time down.

So there you have it, those are my tips on how to race on a budget. I will be using all of those this fall as I look forward to running and racing again. I gave myself all of May and June off to not race and just focus on the wedding and enjoy being married but July 1st I’m kicking back into gear and starting up my weekly workout posts again. I will also be making a few race announcements on Monday as well!!

Do you have any more tips for running and racing on a budget? I’d love for you to share them because I’d like to continually add to this list as time goes on. 


Suz and Allan said...

Since running is really important to me we actually have a section of our budget set aside just for race fees. I find that when I know that it's a part of the budget and it's important to me then I'll make other financial sacrifices if I want to do an extra race that's going to put us over budget on race fees.

Staying local is a big help when it comes to saving money and if you do have to travel using hotel points can save on travel expenses. I think you hit the biggest money saver with planning ahead and registering early or on days with special race discounts.

armyamy said...

Fantastic tips! My biggest preference is running a race that coincides with my training (ie running a half when I have a 13 mile training run on my plan). I'm sure you already do this. That's part of the reason I don't run as many 5ks any more - it just doesn't jive with my training.

I cannot wait to hear about your big race plans!

Tyly said...

That's all such great advice, and I can't wait to hear your racing announcement! :)

I meant to comment on your last post as well. We scheduled, list making, Type A crazies have a HARD time with change!!! I am right there with you, and while you're trying to take others into consideration, that doesn't make it any less hard on you. I think all the heartfelt, honest conversations you and Alex have will be the reason why you'll be just fine! Communication is key (as you know), and I have no doubt that after a little adjustment time you'll find a happy middle ground!

Steph @ Steph Runs On said...

Great tips, Lauren! Planning is usually the biggest step, because the more time I have to plan something the more time that means I have to save money for hotel and travel. I'm running the Houston marathon and the race fee will be the cheapest part of the weekend.

One of the blogs I read (though I cannot for the life of me remember who it is, ack!) creates a running bank account. For every mile she runs, she adds to it. I'd like to start something like that, but I haven't done it yet.

I can't wait to hear more about your racing plans!