Some runners like to joke that running is “cheap,” all you need is a pair of ($100+) shoes. First of all, not if you’re a woman. Second of all, running is not cheap if you have to deal with an injury and/or pain. This year has really made me think hard about how important running really is to me. Every month when I get the bill from my PT, I ask myself, was this worth it? I’ll be honest, right now money is really tight as I funnel more pre-tax dollars to my health savings account to pay off the bill. Part of me wonders if I should have gone to PT at all.

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But what are the other options?

Running is a really effective workout for me, and a lot of folks, because it has a good ROI on time. I can spend 3 hours per week running, which would yield 20 miles per week. All I have to do is get dressed and head out the door. (When I’m “healthy” and don’t have to do various stretches and exercises before and after every run.) I know from past experience, 20 miles per week is enough to help me maintain my weight.

It’s hard for me to maintain my weight in 3 hours per week with other workouts. Dance, yoga, Pilates, spinning and swimming all require travel for me, so spending 3 hours per week doing those things would likely mean an additional hour or more per week traveling to/from a studio or pool. Plus, they all require relying on schedules I can’t control. (Class schedules or the Chicago Park District’s very limited lap swim hours.)

Running also has a good ROI on money. (If you don’t experience injury and/or pain.) I run in Brooks Adrenalines, and I can get 500 miles out of  a pair. At $120/pair, that’s roughly 24 cents per mile. At 20 miles/week, that’s just under $5/week. Three hours of anything class-based is easily $45/week or more. If I want to be able to swim whenever I want, a gym with a pool would be $90/month plus $200 enrollment.

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Pic on the right from Erica

And running is enjoyable for me. Between the fitness centers at home and at the office, I have access to ellipticals, stationary bikes and stair masters. Similar to the treadmill, I can stick it out on one of those once in awhile. Relying on any of them for my regular cardio in the long run would not last.

So, if I hadn’t gone to PT, I would have likely spent the same amount of money on other ways of working out in order to maintain the same level of fitness and enjoyment for me. Or, I would have fallen into lazy habits due to logistics and/or boredom.

Basically, my health is an investment, and it’s going to require spending some money to be able to do the workouts I enjoy enough to stick with in order to see actual returns on my physcial health (and to a degree, my mental health). I think all of us who workout regularly have accepted that. The older I get, the more I see the reality of “you get what you pay for.” (Most of the time.)

So, as much as PT came with a bit of sticker shock, I’m hopeful that in the long run, it was a good decision. Not only do I think it can keep me running for years to come, but addressing these issues now will likely be cheaper than letting them linger and cause damage my body if I try to suffer through the pain. Or, giving up on running and fitness altogether would lead to costly health problems down the road.

But I’ll be really happy when I stop getting an envelope from the PT every month.