The Economics of Running

This post was originally published on this site

Running is often touted as a particularly cheap sport. All you need is a pair of shoes and off you go.

But economist Justin Wolfers, who teaches at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and is a frequent contributor to the Freakonomics blog, notes training for a marathon comes with a high opportunity cost. Mr. Wolfers, who is training for the Marine Corps marathon, spoke about it recently on the radio program Marketplace.

The foundation of all economics is something called opportunity cost. It says that the true cost of something is the alternative you have to give up.

So each hour that I spend running is an hour that I don’t spend hanging out, working or sleeping. How do I choose? Following economic theory, I keep doing an activity only as long as it yields greater benefits than the alternative….

The same logic applies to you. Each hour you spend on your hobby is an hour you don’t spend working harder to get a promotion, studying for a degree, or shopping around for the cheapest groceries.

Despite the high opportunity cost of running, which Mr. Wolfers calculates
comes to several thousand dollars for himself, he argues that running is
still worth it.To listen to the full interview or read a transcript, go to the Marketplace Web site.

And then please join the discussion below. What is your opportunity cost of marathon training, and what are you giving up when you make time to run?