1. Buy old models of your favorite running shoes.
Like car dealerships, running stores try to clear out last year's models of running shoes when the new models come in. The old models are usually almost the same shoe, but at a much cheaper price. Some runners stock up on old models when they go on sale. You can also search the Internet for older models of your favorite running shoes.
2. Shop around for inexpensive running clothes.
You don't have to spend a lot for good quality, technical fabric running clothes. Check out Target's C9 by Champion line of technical fitness wear. They're reasonably priced, but still very high in quality and performance. Old Navy's performance fleece line also has some great pieces, such as jackets and vests, for outdoor winter running. You may also want to check out stores such as TJ Maxx or Marshall's (if they're in your area), which have racks of discounted name-brand fitness apparel, sometimes as much as 50% off the "department store" price.
3. Look for free training groups.
Don't assume that you have to pay for a trainer or coach to improve your running or train for a specific race. Many running stores offer free coached workouts and runs. Although you won't get one-on-one coaching, you'll get the benefits of working with an expert and staying motivated with other runners.
Many races offer free training runs to registered participants (another great reason to register early). If you're training for a specific race, check the race website to see if they have any organized training runs scheduled.
4. Make your running shoes last longer.
It's important to replace your running shoes every 300 to 400 miles, but getting new shoes every couple of months can get expensive. To make your running shoes last longer, don't wear them for anything other than running or working out. Even if you're just walking around, you're still wearing out the cushioning. Keep your running shoes in a cool, dry place where they can air out properly. Don't leave them in places like a gym bag or a hot trunk. If you need to clean your shoes, use a scrub brush, mild soap, and cold water, and then let them air dry.
5. Buy running shoes, clothes and gear online.
6. Plan your race schedule ahead of time.
Most races give discounts –- some pretty significant -– for early registration. Sign up early for races that you know you definitely want to run, especially those that you run annually. You'll save some bucks and give your motivation a boost at the same time.
7. Volunteer at races.
Race organizers are sometimes desperate for more volunteers, so they offer incentives, such as free race entries, to volunteers. You can work at the registration table before the race and still run it -- without paying the entry fee. Volunteering at races is also a good way to get free running gear. Some races will give volunteers the same goodie bag as the race participants.
8. Buy running clothes off-season.
Some of my favorite winter clothes I actually purchased in the spring or summer, when it was too warm to even wear them. I don't know what was more exciting –- the deep off-season discount I got on the clothes or the surprise of pulling out long-forgotten, brand-new winter running clothes when the cold weather hit. At the end of a season, hit the running store sale racks and search online for end-of-season sales. When the weather changes, you'll be glad you were a savvy shopper.
9. Take care of your technical running clothes.
If you run regularly, it's a good idea to invest in some technical running clothes. Unlike cotton clothing, synthetic fabrics, such as CoolMax or Dri-Fit, wick moisture away from your skin, so you'll stay dry and comfortable during your runs. However, technical running clothes are not cheap, so it's important to care for them properly. For example, air drying them instead of putting them in the dryer will make them last a lot longer. Get more tips to make your running clothes last longer.