Whew! More than two-thirds of the way through December and I’m still streaking. (At least ten minutes a day of intentional exercise. More on that here.) One of my rules is to reward myself when (not if) I finish. If you’re out there achieving your goals, you deserve a reward, too.
At the beginning of the streak, I suggested saving a dollar for every time you complete your streak day. So, here are 31 ideas for $31 or under, to spend what you’ve earned for each day this month. (These are not affiliate links. Many of the links are to items I’ve used and liked, though some of these ideas are items I haven’t tried and want to check out myself.)
- Base Layer: Want to keep up your fabulous progress in the new year? You’ll need to dress for the weather (more on winter running here). Pick up a lightweight, breathable under-layer for those chilly January days. I have it on good authority I’m getting these from Costco for Christmas. The price is great; I’ll have to give an update once I’ve worn them. For a splurge, get fleece-lined tights.
- For that matter, any workout clothing: Seriously, you never can have too much. If (like me) your workout attire consists mainly of years worth of race t-shirts, a quick trip to Marshalls or the after-Christmas sales for a cute top will help refresh your closet without spending a ton.
- Socks: Confession: I’m more of a grocery-store sock purchaser. Plus, I have enormous feet and need to have them long enough to reach over my ankles. Compression socks are on my personal reward list.
- Spi belt: You can fit your phone, wallet, and keys into this little pouch, and it stays slim. This is not the fanny pack your dad wore to the amusement park when you were a kid.
- Reflective vest: Visibility gear can range widely in price, but you can get a good, basic reflective vest in breathable mesh, without breaking the bank.
- Swim cap: I have more race-issued swim caps than are really necessary. Try a cloth cap in a fun color.
- Goggles: I made the mistake of getting a multi-pack of discount goggles this year, and regretted it nearly every swim I took because they leaked constantly. I will be spending just a bit more on goggles that fit and don’t leak.
- Sunglasses: I have never liked wearing sunglasses when I run, but this year, I decided to give them a shot. Not willing to pay $200 for a pair of shades that will end up lost or upside down on a certain toddler, I searched tri message boards for recommendations for the best lower-end glasses. The pair of Tifosi glasses I purchased are a bit above the price range here, but come in fun colors and are light enough for someone who isn’t used to running in shades. But the one pair of shades that kept coming up as a great spare pair for a low price was Goodr. And who could resist buying shades in the Gardening with a Kraken color way?
- Weights: As I recommended in a prior post, you should consider getting two or three pairs of dumbbells in various weights. As a starting point, though, buy a pair that provides some resistance without causing you to strain.
- CO2 cartridges: Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of bike gear for $31 or under. And small containers of gas don’t exactly say “splurge.” But if you’re sitting on the side of the road with a flat, you’ll thank yourself for the ability to pump your tire quickly.
- Road ID: Like the CO2 cartridges, this is in the category of “Hope You Won’t Need It, But Be Glad If You Do.” Engrave these tags with whatever contacts or other information someone would need to know if you needed help.
- Lacrosse balls: I rarely get massages. As in, twice a decade rarely. After my most recent one, the masseuse recommended picking up lacrosse balls for massaging sore muscles at the end of the day. Honorable mention: foam rollers. (I don’t foam roll, so if you have suggestions, please share in the comments.)
- Headband: A few steps up from the drug-store variety elastics, Sweaty Bands are a fun way to stave off loose locks.
- Wireless headphones: If you’re not an audiophile, you can pick up a pair for a reasonable price. I actually got mine for $7.99 on Black Friday sales, and I love not having a cord flopping around in front of me when I run.
- Gym bag: By now, you may have gathered that I like cute gear in fun colors. I also love bags, to my husband’s consternation. Treat yourself to a new bag, and use it as motivation to go to the gym.
- Triathlete magazine: I’ve always found this monthly mag to be approachable for all levels. There’s tips and encouragement for both newbies and seasoned veterans. Other good magazines are Runners World and Women’s Running.
- The Grace to Race: This is the autobiography of Sister Madonna Buder, an octogenarian Roman Catholic nun who came to running and triathlons in her fifties and now constantly breaks her own records for oldest competitor in Ironman distance tris, earning her the nickname the Iron Nun. Her story inspired me to stretch myself a little further.
- Marathon Woman: Written by Katherine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, this book details the challenges she faced in achieving that milestone, including attempts by the organizers to physically remove her from the course. (I haven’t read this one yet, but it is on my list.)
- Tales from Another Mother Runner: Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are co-hosts of the popular Another Mother Runner podcast, and offer practical advice like training plans as well as lots of encouragement. This book is a compilation of stories from mama runners. (Also still on my to-read list, though I have read and enjoyed another book by these two, Run Like a Mother.)
- Exercise journal/planner: Fitness planners are not only a great way to keep yourself accountable, on actual paper, the old-fashioned way, there are also some really fun options available. Think of it as an excuse to play with stickers while reaching your goals.
- Calendar: In the streaking intro post, I mentioned my super simple tracking system – work out on a given day, earn a sticker on the calendar for that day. Skip the free calendar from your dentist’s office and choose one that’s pretty, fun, or motivational and that you’ll want to look at (and stick your stickers to) every day.
Other (including the frivolous)
- Latte: I don’t know anyone who is a working parent/fitness enthusiast who doesn’t like coffee. (And, let’s face it, all parents are working parents, some of us just have the luxury of sitting behind a desk in the company of adults during the day.) My coffee selection is generally pretty plain, so a froofy latte – grande, of course – is a rare treat. A French press or a new flavor of pods could also work.
- Pedicure: Runners have gnarly toenails, and parents don’t get to sit and be pampered very often. If you’re both, this treat kills two birds with one pumice stone. Nail polish in a fun, outside-your-norm color (turquose! sparkles!) also works.
- Foot spa: Yes, I’m talking about one of those little tubs you see at the department store during the holidays and no other time of the year. It’s frivolous. You probably won’t use it often. But when you do, ahhhhhhh…
- Apps: Spring for the paid version of your favorite workout app, or an organizational app to get you set up for your next success. If you’re thinking of a running goal for next year, the “Couch to” (5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon) series might be right for you.
- Race entry fee: Also great for gearing up for a successful new year, choose a race and enter now, before the excuses have time to take root in your brain. Admittedly, it’s getting more difficult to find a race for under $31, but at least start putting money aside for a goal race.
- Jewelry: Thanks to the magic of Etsy, you can find cute, affordable, handmade jewelry to commemorate achieving your goal or engraved with an inspirational quote. (Just try searching “triathlon jewelry,” “running jewelry,” etc., and see what suits you.)
- Medal hanger: Until recently, the race medals earned through my grit and perseverance were relegated to a desk drawer. Now, they are on display in the home gym area of my basement. (The hanger pictured above was over $31, but there are plenty of options here.)
- Spotify subscription (or Netflix if you spend a lot of time on the treadmill): Okay, so your subscription fees for the year will be more than $31, but consider a trial. I am a podcast listener. On a recent run, my podcast ran out mid-run. I turned on some music and rocked the negative splits. Music motivates. If you are feeling retro, buy an album. At a store. And listen to it from start to finish.
- Movie night: Invite some friends over and pop the popcorn. The choices are endless for an inspiring sports movie – some of my favorites are Bend It Like Beckham, Hoosiers, and Chariots of Fire – or the latest new release on Netflix. Jammies optional.
- Charity: It’s not a treat for yourself, but saving to donate to a cause you believe in can be a great motivator. If you don’t have a cause in mind, consider an organization with a sports-related mission, like the Wounded Warrior Project’s adaptive sports program or Girls on the Run, an organization that trains girls for 5k races.
Choose something from this list, or any other item you’ve been eyeing. Just reward yourself. (And when you’ve done that, let me know in the comments what you did.)
Next week is the last streak week! Check in for the first of two posts about planning and inspiration for the New Year.