Economist Justin Wolfers weighed the opportunity costs of running and came to the conclusion that training for the MCM was costing him thousands of dollars (text found here, via Runner's World). This summer, I was set on getting a part-time job. I figured I have all weekend and my evenings off. Then I started remembering that I need time for a long run during the weekend and I like to get to bed by 9pm. I sighed, decided to just stick to a better budget and joined a local volunteer group to contribute extra time to.
So yes, there was an "opportunity cost" to my deciding to train this summer. Other spending included: new shoes, I gave into a sale at City Sports, I want a Garmin watch, I needed a belt to hold water for long runs, I need Gatorade for said long runs. Then my appetite spikes when I train and I spend more money on food...
But running is absolutely priceless. Its part of who I am. It gives me a goal to work toward now that I'm out of school and have no idea what I want to do with my life. Sure, I didn't get an extra part-time job this summer because I needed time to train, but I need to run. When I hurt my ankle after a race and stopped running in 2007, it began a year of dipping in and out of depression for me. And to top that off, running saved me thousands of dollars on therapy and medication, if I hadn't figured out that being active would help (but that's a whole other post waiting to happen).
Finally, what about the cost of being lazy? What about higher health-care costs, the cost of junk food and soda, the cost of better television deals so that you have things to watch as you sit in front of the TV for hours on end? The cost of my riding the bus to the metro as opposed the 20 minute walk I take instead?
I also don't go out since I'm training and I have no time, which saves money. I don't need a gym membership-- saves money. I look better in my clothes meaning I get more for my money (ok, that's pushing it). A healthy lifestyle doesn't have to include Whole Foods and organic, cage-free meat everyday, and I guess I don't need a GPS-enabled watch. All that said, there are higher long-term costs to being lazy than being a healthy runner.