How to run a marathon on a budget

Running is a relatively cheap sport, but cost of entries and kit can add up. Jo Harris, from Barclays personalised banking team, who is also a runner, offers some advice on training for a marathon on a shoestring.


  • If you know what trainers you’re looking for, look online to find the best price. Or why not visit outlet stores to see if you can find the same trainers in last season’s colours at a fraction of the price? Also look out for recycling schemes which some running shops offer, giving you money off your new trainers if you return your old.

  • Extravagant running gear isn’t necessary to complete a marathon. Invest in around three running tops and bottoms that fit you properly and look out for good deals on top brands at outlet stores. Consider selecting different styles so that you’re able to run and train throughout the seasons, transitioning from summer to winter while saving cash at the same time.

  • Instead of spending money on expensive energy gels or liquid food, stock up on an abundance of jelly beans, which are lighter to carry and will help keep your energy levels up for longer. You can also make your own homemade fuels, such as dates dipped in peanut butter, coconut protein balls, or your own isotonic energy drinks. Meal preparation can help soothe any wallet woes and even improve your race time.

  • Hi-tech gadgets, such as running watches, look great but they are not essential to hit your running targets. As an alternative, why not download free or low-cost running apps, which are readily available on your smartphone?

  • If you’ve opted to use running apps but are worried about where to put your phone, then invest in an armband or a running belt so you can use wired headphones and don’t need to splash out on wireless versions.

  • If you’re struggling for motivation, don’t resort to paying for a trainer. Consider joining a running club or run your local parkrun. Several running shops and big sports brands run free running clubs through which you can get expert guidance from coaches and build your fitness up ready for the big day - this also allows you to get a feel for what it’s like to run in a crowd. Some clubs also offer loyalty schemes which reward you with money off in-store.

  • Finally, in the lead-up to your marathon, don’t panic-buy at the Expo. The golden rule of a successful run is “nothing new on race day”, so there’s not much point in buying the latest eye-catching gadgets so close to your event. Take a pause and consider whether the product will actually help get you through the run or just look good.