Monday, January 10, 2011

Cheap A$$ Mother Runner

Some have called me "bargain conscious" when it comes to my workout gear.  Others have chosen "thrifty".  Honestly, though, I'm just cheap.   It's not that I don't appreciate quality - I just don't believe it needs to come with the high price tag that is usually hanging off it.   Instead I hunt for quality at a bargain price.  I don't buy secondhand workout wear or gear - I just look further than the popular shops to find what I want or need.  Living on one income (and it not being MY income) makes me feel like I have to dig further to find a deal.  Though I will admit that I don't usually need to dig very deep to find it.

I've never spent over $35 for a pair of brand new running shoes.  I went to the Running Room and got myself fitted for shoes.  Of course, the "best shoes for me" had a $175 price tag on them...and they didn't have my gigantic clown shoe size 11s in stock.  With a secret smile on my face, I left the store and promptly went home to look on eBay.  Within 5 minutes, I had found a pair of the same shoes, though one model back, BRAND NEW for $30.   I had to wait a couple of days for the auction to close, but for under $50 with shipping, I had a shiny new pair of Nikes in my mailbox a few days later.   It wasn't a one time occurrence, either.  I've bought 2 pairs since - one from the same seller, one from a different one - and all in the same price point.   The trick is to keep looking.  It might take a couple of weeks if you have a common shoe size, but know how much you are willing to pay and don't bid outside of that amount.   If you already have shoes, recognize when you might need a new pair and start looking early.

Fuel Belts cost upwards of $50 around here.   Such a huge price for an essential item…guess the companies know that distance runners will need one to make their running easier.   When I was getting to the point where I was going to start going past 5 or 6K, I turned to eBay once more.   These are REALLY easy to find BRAND NEW for cheap.   I bought a 3 bottle/1 gel flask belt for $8 plus shipping.  I also found a one bottle belt with a pocket for $4 plus shipping.   Shipping is reasonable, for the most part…but confirm before you bid because some US sellers tend to really inflate their Canadian shipping rates (I think they are trying to discourage bidders when they do that).  I ended up winning a 4 bottle belt when I was in TNT, but had already bought both of these belts.  Now my hubby uses them - so it saved us when he started up.   And $50 was never dropped on one.

I love Lululemon.  Their workout wear is cute and well thought out.   Do I own a closet full of the stuff? Heck, no!   I can't afford that!   I own one tank (bought as a reward to myself for hitting the 40lb mark on my weight loss) and a pair of arm warmers (bought on sale for really cheap).  The rest of my workout wear is a mish mash of brands.   I am more picky about the FEATURES of the clothing than the brand name on it.   For example, I like my pants to have a zippered pocket (I rarely use it, but I want it there in case I need it), a higher waist with a drawstring (nothing worse than spending a run yanking up a pair of droopy drawers).  I like my capris to feel supportive and it is a bonus if they have an attached skirt to cover my butt.  I have long legs so I need tights that are long enough to keep my ankles warm in the snow.  I have an assortment of long sleeve shirts that I've bought here and there.   Short sleeve shirts…I'll be honest - all of mine are race tees and I rarely wear them.  I usually wear a tank and, if it's cool out, a pair of arm warmers.  All of my workout wear was brand new when I bought it and I rarely spend over $30 for a piece.

Here is a list of my "bargain" brands (and don't forget to check the clearance sections for even greater deals):

  • Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) - Great tights for around the $35 mark.   Have yet to find a pair there that don't work for my long legs.   They have a good selection of clothing in their "trail running" section.   I swear by their Fox River X-training socks for $7.50 a pair…never had a blister in them!
  • Costco - FANTASTIC 1/4 zip long sleeves.  Paradox brand for $20 each.   Love these so much I want to wear them even when I'm not running.   Hubby also runs in the tights and likes them a lot.  They usually have some nice Avia stuff - I got a couple of great jackets that I ran in this fall for under $20.  Also check out the Tuff Athletics brand for tanks and bottoms.  I don't like their t-shirt (ill fitting) but the pants are really nice.  I just wish they had a drawstring and a longer inseam so I could wear them.   If you are on the shorter side, though, this brand is usually in the $15 arena.  Really - the clothes alone make our yearly membership worthwhile.
  • eBay - if you are looking for a specific brand/style - there are usually deals to be found.  Also good for if they discontinued a favourite.   If you have time to wait, there are good deals on running gear out of Korea (compression tights etc).  I've bought arm warmers but am leery about buying pants in case they are too short  Might attempt if I see capris, though.
  • Old Navy - A lot of the workout wear they sell there is meant to look "nice".  I found the tanks were a bit low cut for me and the pants a bit low riding.   I did, however, fall in love with their long sleeve running shirts.  They even have a thumbhole and a reflective stripe across the back.
  • Running Room - This place is SUPER PRICEY…until you hit the sale rack.   I have found some real steals on them.   One week, the Adidas capri skirt I was coveting was $60…the next, it was on that rack for $29.  I also picked up a couple of wrap skirts to go over my winter tights for $10 each.   The deals are there is you're patient…but I wouldn't pay full price for anything else there.  And, if you need a winter running jacket - register early for their Resolution Run.  You get a free jacket for the cost of registration (and a fun run to participate in with friends, to boot)
  • Lululemon - yes, they make the list.  But shop the clearance rack for some real deals if you really want a wardrobe of the stuff.    There are deals to be had on colours they are discontinuing or items they made too much of.
  • Lucy - unfortunately only in the US and, again, only shop the bargain rack because they are direct competitors with Lulu.  But, the clothes are cute and the tank I bought on our San Fran trip is soooo long and comfy that it makes me cry when I see them having a gigantic sale online...because they don't ship to Canada.  Next trip south - I will definitely be bargain hunting here.
A word about Walmart/Superstore/Marks Work Wearhouse - sure, it's cheap…but it isn't a bargain if you need to replace it quickly.   I wasn't going to add Marks into there, but I tried on a tank last weekend and it was horribly cheap feeling.    I've found that the same price points as these brands can be found elsewhere for much higher quality.

So, there.  My secrets are out.   Now you, too, can be a cheap @$$ mother runner!  Happy bargain hunting!

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