Stay in shape, have fun for about $800 per year

There are too many pricey diet plans out there to keep track of: Jenny Craig, NutriSystem, Weight Watchers and on and on.

But there is an easier way to slim down, while having fun and boosting self-esteem.

Run (or jog, or walk). Just get out there.

And you can do it for about $800, or much less, per year, according to the 2011 National Runner Survey from Running USA.

According to the survey, the average female and male runner spends about $90 on a solid pair of running shoes, and they’ll burn through about three pairs per year.

Women prefer ASICS, Brooks and Saucony footwear; men go for ASICS, Brooks and Nike.

The average runner will also spend about $100 per year on apparel. Favorite brands are Nike, Under Armour and Champion for women, and Nike, Under Amour and ASICS for men.

And the average runner said they’ll sign up for about eight road races per year (a mix of 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon races). The average cost for a road race is about $50, but most will include a nice performance race shirt with registration.

So about $270 on shoes, $100 on gear, and about $400 on races comes to $770, and that’s if you’re aggressive and line up for eight events in a year.

But the price seems to be worth it, according to the Running USA survey.

From the survey, the top five reasons runners continue to run:

  1. Staying in Shape
  2. Staying Healthy
  3. Having Fun
  4. Relieving Stress
  5. Achieving a Goal

So think twice about the diet-in-a-box, lace up your sneaks, and hit the road!