Running is already one of the least expensive ways to lose weight and stay fit, but if you're like me, that's not good enough. I'm constantly trying to think of ways to not spend money, even when it comes to my choice of exercise. So, here are some tips to save money as a runner.

1. Don't buy expensive shoes

Dedicated runners are supposed to replace their shoes every three to six months, depending on how often they run. And all you need is a second grade education to understand how that can start adding up! Finding a good, quality running shoe will cost around $50. Sure, at that price the shoes may not be as attractive or trendy as their more expensive counterparts, but you're just going to replace them again in a few months anyway. So, as long as you shop the sales and read the reviews ahead of time, you should be just fine.

2. Quit it with the protein bars and shakes

Just quit it. No one has ever been able to convince me that a manufactured protein bar or shake can help the body more than simply eating right and drinking enough water. Our bodies already have fat and protein reserves—there's no need to add nutrients via a nasty block bar or chalky shake. If you really need to supplement your diet, then chew a couple Flintstones vitamins a day. Other than that, drink water, eat tons of veggies and fruit, allow your body time to rest, and quit buying expensive fitness food!

3. Only compete in sponsored races

Search for local charities that have yearly races to raise funds. Even if there is a registrant fee upfront, you typically can be reimbursed if you get enough people to sponsor you. Basically, the more money you raise for the charity, the more likely you can get your registrant fee back (or not pay it at all). So, put in the work to get sponsors and save yourself some money.

4. Don't ever buy a gym membership

Ever. I personally feel there is no point for a runner to have a gym membership. Running outside is free, so why pay to run inside? Also, if you want a little weight training, then I suggest throwing a couple of small children (or bricks, whatever) into a stroller and run up and down some hills. I personally have more muscular arms than ever before, and it's all because I push around approximately sixty pounds as I run. And, if it's the weather that concerns you about giving up your gym membership, then get creative. You may have to bundle up, bundle down, or research some calisthenics you can do inside on a rainy day. Regardless, you're a runner, so missing a day here or there (or even a week—gasp!) because of the weather won't set you back very far.

5. Know your limits to help avoid injuries

For the love of everything, listen to your body. I was once told by a running coach that, "Pain has to be worked through," and I'm here to tell you that's the biggest load of poop I've ever heard in my life. Should you be stiff, a little sore, and tired after you run? Of course, because that means you worked hard. But should any of your joints hurt to the point of gimping while you run? Absolutely not. You can work through minor ailments (a distinction my coach never made), but major things like joint pain and pulled muscles can lead to hefty medical bills. So save yourself some money by stretching, warming up, warming down, and listening to your body. And you may even consider running fewer times each week to give your body more time to rest.
So, world of runners, there you go! Utilize these tips and you'll start to see the positive difference it makes on your wallet.

This is a guest post by Leah P. from Krum, TX.