When it's time to tighten your belt, don't scrimp on the time you spend on building fitness, or your belt may need loosening as your waistline expands! But you can save money on walking gear and walking events with these thrifty ideas.
If you love organized walking events, you know how the price of charity walks, half marathons and marathons has been climbing. You can get a fantastic walking route laid out for you by local walking experts around the world -- for free or for just a few dollars entry fee. Volksmarch clubs are non-profit clubs that host weekend events and mapped year-round routes all across North America and around the world. I became addicted to these events in 1984, and they have been my walking mainstay ever since. For less than the price of a gallon of gas, you get a great 10 kilometer marked/mapped course and can meet other walkers. Or, you can use their year-round routes any day to find a great walking route to enjoy on your own.
You will ultimately save money on shoes by getting fitted correctly in person at the best running shoe store in your area -- the one where the serious runners shop. While you may need to spend $60-100 on a good pair of well-fit shoes, they will save you money on injuries. These serious running shoe stores also have great return policies so you aren't stuck with shoes that don't work for you. Once you know which model of shoe works best, then you can shop for discounts and 2-for-1 offers at online stores such as Zappos (Buy Direct), Roadrunner Sports (Buy Direct), and National Running Center. But also don't forget that great local shoe shop, we need to keep them in business, too.
3. Discount Athletic Wear
To walk comfortably in all weather, you need clothing in technical, sweat-wicking fabric. Full price, this can be expensive. Shop for end-of-season close-out prices on short-sleeved tops and shorts in the fall and long sleeved tops and pants in the spring. National Running Center runs deep discounts on clothing that is in season as well. Sierra Trading Post is another deep discounter worth bookmarking to wait for the items you want to become available. REI-Outlet (Buy Direct) has deep discounts on high quality outdoor wear and gear.
There are cheaper alternatives to single-serving sports drinks and energy bars. You can buy powdered sports drinks and add it to water for far less expense. You can even make your own sports drink mix. Energy bars are very expensive and you pay for the convenience. I would rather mix my own trail mix from the bulk food bins at the grocery store. Just mix nuts, dried fruit, maybe some chocolate or carob chips. You will have a good healthy energy snack whose ingredients are no mystery.
I've used a couple of online diet tools, including Weight Watchers Online. But I ended my subscription when I started using About.com's own Calorie Count Plus. I can track my weight and calories for free. They have a mobile application for checking food calories while on the go. I can analyze my own recipes and get a calorie and nutritional content on them for free. Calorie Count will make suggestions for menus and healthier substitutions for your diet.
A new, high quality treadmill is a very expensive item. The good news is that you can find lightly used treadmills easily by shopping online classifieds and garage sale notices. First study the qualities of a good treadmill so you will be able to judge whether you would want to adopt it at any price. You can also locate treadmills that you can use for free or for a low fee. Gyms are often desperate to sell memberships at a discount (any month but January!) You may have access to a treadmill at a school or workplace fitness center, senior center or public recreation center.
If you are training for a long distance walk, check with the event organizer to see if there are free training groups you can join. Sometimes they will send assignments via email, but many events also have live training groups. If your event doesn't have training advice via email, join my free email courses the marathon and half marathon.
Need some help on your walking form? Grab a video camera and film yourself walking. Watch my Walking Mistakes Video and compare. You will be able to spot what you can't feel - leaning, overstriding, poor posture, bad arm movement. Then see if there is a walking club or an upcoming racewalking clinic in your area. Other walkers can help critique your posture, stride, and arm motion. You can get a lot of advice from my walking lessons, but live coaching can make a big difference.
I live in a rainy climate and we don't stop walking just because it is wet outside. High tech rain gear is both waterproof and breathable, so your sweat doesn't make you as wet from the inside out. High tech rain gear can be expensive, but a reader had high praise for the Rain Shield O2 Jacket for under $30. In a pinch, shop at the dollar store for umbrellas and cheap plastic rain ponchos. Free plastic shower caps from hotel rooms make great one-use shoe covers. If your newspaper comes in a plastic tube bag, these might work as well. The problem with any of these items is that they will keep the sweat in as well as the rain out. Ultimately, you will be drier with breathable waterproof outerwear and shoes.
It is very expensive to get hit by a car that didn't see you at night. It is far cheaper to buy a reflective vest and wear it. But if you don't want the hassle of wearing a vest, gear yourself up with cheap clip-on flashing lights in front and in back. I also like the idea of the See-Me-Run iron-on reflective logos. You can add them to your usual walking jacket or favorite walking shirts. Why spend big bucks for a name brand shirt with tiny reflective patches when you can glam up your current shirts with these patches?