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The Economics of Running September 9, 2009

Posted by Richard Lowe in Thoughts & Musings.
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In an article sent to me by my friend and fellow runner Karen N., the New York Times discusses an American Public Media essay by economist Justin Wolfers.

Wolfers refutes a point made by Runner’s World Magazine that the cost of running is much more than a pair of shoes. It’s the actual hours that are spent running that also need to be considered. Any hour not spent “working harder to get a promotion, studying for a degree, or shopping around for the cheapest groceries” is an hour wasted, from a monetary standpoint. He elaborates:

By my calculations my 16-week training program comes at an opportunity cost of several thousand dollars. A quicker runner would have a smaller opportunity cost. It’s only because I’m both slow and an economist that I fret that the world’s cheapest sport is actually incredibly expensive.

As a runner, Wolfers implies, you’re actually paying to run.

I hope his essay doesn’t convince anyone to stop running simply because of the lack of cash value in the sport. He’s clearly making an argument for argument’s sake. If anything, the best piece of advice to take from this article is his fantastic point about time management and prioritizing one’s life: make time to do the things you love and consider paying someone else to do the things you don’t.

Running Blue Print discusses the essay here.

Runner’s World discusses the essay here.

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