Saturday, October 15, 2005

The "Quicken"ing, or "There is a Cost"

Numbers don't lie. We turn ourselves inside-out scratching and clawing to get the digits we are looking for in the form of a new personal best. We stare at the numbers in the race results, and then hopefully admire the concrete proof of our fitness they represent.

I've been looking at some other numbers lately though, and the digits aren't comforting. In fact, they are downright scary. That's right, I'm talking Quicken here. We started tracking our finances through this programming marvel about three years ago, when I was still heavy into bike racing but thankfully done with triathlons. Every expense we incur is recorded via a logbook, and each expense is tied to a category. Back then cycling was one of the categories with a pretty high total. We download our bank's records and Quicken reconciles it all.

It's a fantastic program, and it spares us from scrutinizing every transaction on our printed bank statement. We even set up a budget, and Quicken can tell us each month where we spent too much, and which categories are leading us down the road to financial ruin.

Enter "Mike's Running" category. I sent off a check for December's half marathon today, and another $95 is about to fly out of my wallet for the January marathon. For kicks I did a "category detail" report on my running, and the results are shocking. I can't type the total for the year to date, because frankly it's too painful. Suffice it to say, I've spent $39 on running per WEEK this year so far.

Here's where the excuses start. The San Diego marathon plane ticket and hotel, plus meals are there, and usually I just race in town. I really needed to replace my socks this year. I had to see the podiatrist, it was a life-or-death situation. I'm finally fast enough for a singlet. I'm too hairy to run shirtless, I just can't do that to the other runners, so more technical tees please.

When I break it down it's frightening: 8 pairs of shoes (I get 400-450 miles out of them), about 8 pairs of socks, 3-4 pairs of $20 spenco insoles, 8 race entries, maybe 10 sticks of bodyglide, 5 pairs of shorts, 4 technical tees and 1 singlet, Running Times/Runner's World subscriptions, iPod shuffle (sits in a drawer), and two boxes of GU gel (espresso love, best flavor ever and double-caffeine).

So much for running as a minimalist sport. Because of the costs associated with my "habit", I haven't replaced my car's stolen stereo ($100? That's a pair of shoes plus insoles!), our television is a 19" model my parents bought me 10 years ago, and my car celebrated its 10th anniversary. None of those things are very important to me, though I miss N.P.R. on my way to work.

Running isn't cheap, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. The people I've met (especially since starting with the Lydiard Method), the confidence I've gained, and my improved outlook on life are just a few of the things running has given me. It's worth $39 a week, and it beats a car payment.

Training: 16 miles, 1:56:29, 7:16 pace, with the Get Moving group


D said...

I would be frightened to calculate {and then subsequently admit to}the costs of my running habit! But, it is a healthy habit; I have made great friends through running; it helps me get through the everyday stresses of life...priceless!

Mark said...

Is it still cheaper the cycling? Also, did you use the trip to San Diego as a vacation? I think that most of my running trips fall under the vacation bucket where I happened to complete a race. Still, you can't beat it.

Anonymous said...

The amazing thing about going "minimalist" is that a pair of Nike Waffles costs $35, and the more worn down they get, the better!

I'm half joking, half not.


Mike said...

I agree with you DGC, and I had some reservations about posting my spending, but if you look at the breakdown it's almost all neccessary.

Mark, I'm on the fence as to whether or not it's as expensive as cycling. I think if you only buy a bike every 5 years (which is hard), it would be close to even (I rode 300 miles a week, and tires only last 1500 or so rotated so it's about the same as running shoes). I wish San Diego was a vactation, but I flew in the day before, used all public transit, and left 3 hours after the race (my wife was 8 1/2 months pregnant, so I wanted to make it quick!). I didn't even get an In and Out burger!

Mike, I hear you, and Nobby and some other Lydiardites agree. I want to make the switch but I've almost doubled my milage to try this, and when you throw in 3 days of hill repeats, it's a lot of change!! The shoes will hopefully get me the last 10%, but until I'm comfortable with the workload I'm sticking with the Adrenalines. On the plus side, after talking to my local shop they are giving me a 30% discount now (I will be wearing their singlet!).