After all, the bare basics are a decent pair of running shoes, appropriate clothing, and your commitment. Most of the other stuff is just fluff (albeit functional stuff) that often makes a runner smile.
I have been a seasoned runner for 12 years now. Don't get me wrong, I like my runner fluff as much as the next runner, but I have managed to stay with the bare minimum for the majority of my running. Granted, I am not training for the Olympic trials, nor do I have any grandiose plans to snag a BQ (especially in 2017), but it is possible for every runner (especially new runners) to enjoy their sport without breaking the bank.
Here's a few examples:
**You do not need a fancy-schmancy watch. It took me a long time to break down and actually buy a Garmin (and I bought it more for the GPS capabilities than for tracking mile splits or intervals). When I first got serious with running, I was doing mainly 5K's. The hubby gave me an inexpensive Timex watch (more like a stop watch with a wrist band). It could show actual time of day, or the stopwatch mode could be used for timing a race or a training run. There was no GPS hubbub back then (if there was, I was unaware of it). This simple watch was what I knew and it was very user-friendly for my technology-challenged brain. After 11 years of dedicated service (and a couple of battery replacements), it went to sleep one day last summer and never woke up. My GPS watch (that I had won in an online contest) was not working right, so in a panic, on the eve of the Quad Cities Half Marathon, I bought what I think is the current model of my original watch. Total investment? Approximately $15.
Obviously, if you have a major race you're training for and need detailed stats on each and every interval or mile split, this watch will not do. It does not have GPS capability, but truth be told...I really do not need all of that info for the bulk of my training. After 12 years of running, I can usually "feel" when an approximate mile has gone by and I use my basic math knowledge to figure my approximate pace based on what this watch shows for elapsed time.
**A magazine subscription will give you a wealth of information for minimal dollars. For example, I have subscribed to Runner's World magazine for many years (not quite 12 total years, but definitely in that range). A lot of the topics (training regimens, injury prevention/treatments, cross-training workouts, etc.) go through cycles and "repeat" every few years, but there's always new developments to learn about. I think the annual subscription is around $24 (as is for most magazines that have monthly publications). Sure, you could by a book for that price, but with a magazine you get an influx of new stuff each month...and who doesn't like getting mail?
***This goes without saying (but I'll say it anyways), there are some essentials you should not skimp on, the main one being a pair (or two) of running shoes. You can often times find discounted shoes online, but be very cautious in "buying without trying." Even if they are the same model you have worn, they may be coming from a different warehouse than where your current pair hailed from. Most shoes of the same model vary an itsy bit in fit...some people will not notice the difference while others will. None the less, do make sure to be properly fitted for a shoe that will serve your individual needs.
Do you have any favorite inexpensive "runner fluff" that you've used for years? Do you, on occasion, run without any extra fluff?
** I'm linking up with Suzie and Rachel and Debbie and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner