The first signs of spring never fail to lure winter-worn souls out of their homes and into the sun for a bit of a stretch. While jogging outside is one of the cheapest forms of exercise, today's runners usually don't just tie on a pair of old sneakers and hit the road. If you truly want to shake off the shackles of cold-weather apathy and get moving, you'll likely need an extra accessory or two. From appropriate apparel to digital encouragement, there's a list of options that run the gamut on costs. You can spend $15 on a pair of discount sneakers or you can spend hundreds. So if you're thinking about getting out there for a jog, here's a list of what the true cost of running might, ahem, run you.
Dress the part
While it may be very tempting to break out your oversized hoodie from your alma mater or to finally make use of that free Chick-Fil-A T-shirt you got during a promotion, resist the urge; improper clothing will hang from you like a sack of bricks once you start sweating. Instead, invest in clothing constructed specifically for athletic movement with moisture-wicking materials that breath. A good start is the Nike Men's Denier Stretch Running Shirt or the Nike Women's Essentials Base Layer Running Shirt. Both feature Nike's patented Dri-FIT fabric, which keeps you cool and comfortable. Plus, they integrate strategic mesh panels for added venting.
Price: Men's shirt, $35.18 after this coupon + $8 s&h; women's shirt, $25.58 after the coupon + $8 s&h.
Of course, you can't just go running in a shirt and some kicks. Try browsing the Nike Clearance Sale or the Under Armour Outlet Sale — both of which are among the best athletic apparel sales we've seen this week — to find more clothing options that show your body some love (while you inflict pain upon it).
There's an app for that
When it comes to trying a new exercise routine, sometimes starting is half the battle — so it doesn't hurt to do a bit of coaxing. Try enticing yourself with an engaging iPhone running app. There are several that use the phone's GPS capability to help you plot and track runs, but we particularly like RunKeeper Pro. It tracks your route, distance, time, pace and calories burned, and it syncs the information to its website where you can regularly check your stats. It also features audio cues to coach you to your desired result, and (of utmost importance) you can still listen to music without leaving the app. (There's a version for Android, too.)
Keep it clean
The ability to distract yourself while running is crucial for many people (who wants to hear themselves struggling to breath?), but a sweaty MP3 player is no fun. (Nor are sweaty keys, sweaty debit cards, sweaty driver's licenses, etc.) Instead of holding your vitals in your hand, strap on this eForCity Sport Band Case, which features a mesh pocket and Velcro closure. It's made to store an MP3 player, but you could also slide a card or two and a single key into its confines.
Price: $4.32 + free shipping
Run to the beat
If you're a running newbie but want to approach the activity seriously, a heart rate monitor is key to discerning your personal ideal pace — which in turn helps you optimize your workout. Take a moment to calculate your target heart rate zone (try consulting the Mayo Clinic for guidance) and pick up the Timex Unisex Personal Heart Rate Monitor Watch. The watch (along with the included chest strap) track your heart rate, and an alarm will sound when you fall below your target range. The watch even provides a post-workout review that lists peak and average heart rates during a specific session.
Price: $38.99 + free shipping
For the agoraphobic
If you hate running outdoors, or there's still a chill in the air where you live, you could always snag the Stamina InMotion 7900 Manual Treadmill and resign yourself to training indoors instead. Look at it this way: you'll never again be able to use rain as an excuse for skipping a run!
Price: $99.99 + free shipping
Photo Credit: Eneas via Flickr.