We all know how the world works, not everyone can be sponsored by Nike and Adidas. But does this have to mean that world champs and Olympic runners have to struggle to make ends meet? So far, this seemed to be the case.
Blood, sweat, and tears
To win the race and get that place on the podium, runners leave a long trail of blood, sweat and tears behind them. And even you make it and get your moment of glory, the prizes are considerably smaller than in some other sports, and the fame often doesn’t last.
If you want to be a champion, you have to give it 110%, even when you don’t have the conditions for it. And us runners are a proud bunch. We don’t complain, we push through the pain and jump over all the obstacles with our dignity hat on. Just like you have to find your own inner motivation and win your own medals, you also have to find your own way to make a living aside from running.
Struggling to get sponsors
If you don’t consistently win medals or just don’t have that ‘something’ the sponsors are looking for, you’re going to have a hard time supporting yourself and your family. You have to invest a lot of your money, time, and effort into winning that medal and even when you do, you’re not all set for life.
Even though some governments do a great job of supporting their athletes, unless runners find additional sources of income, they live on the verge of poverty. We’re not in it for the money, but it would be nice if we could make a living doing what we love and what we do best — running.
Sacrifice and payoff?
Professional sport is tough on the body and mind as well, and things get worse when you have to try and fit your training schedule around your 9-to-5 job. And you still have to have some time for your family as well. Sacrifices are great. And when your body is overworked like this, you’ll get very prone to injuries.
You’ve made the sacrifice, you worked hard, and now your body can’t take anymore and instead of a medal, you get a doctor’s prescription for painkillers and a pat on the back. So you do it all over again and again, hoping that you’ll make it next time. And even when you do, unless you’re consistently good, as marathon runner Brian Sell said, you won’t make a living out of running.
Brian Sell’s story
Sell competed in the marathon in Beijing games in 2008, but he says the path was rough. He admits that it took him years to start making any real money from running. At his peak season, Brian was chasing prize money that made about 50% of his income at the time. He explains that it’s all performance-based and if you don’t run well, you’re on your own.
Brian Sell had a hard time before he found a sponsor and was making under $25,000 per year for three years in a row. Sure, some runners can make a living out of it, but the pyramid is steep, and unless you’re Usain Bolt, don’t count on being settled for life.
Unless you were a superstar, a sponsor’s favorite and you’ve won multiple world championships and Olympics, you’ll have to find a job once you retire from professional running. Brian Sell is one of those trying to stay in the sport through coaching, but he also works as a quality control scientist at a biotech lab so he can have a decent life.
How runners make a living
Jack Wickens of the USA Track & Field Foundation explains that there are a few runners that have the power to make a brand successful. These runners will be pretty well off as sponsor’s favorites. But what about the other 99,5% of runners?
Some can make a decent wage through prize money from competitions. But to be able to do this, you have to win a medal at every major competition. And injuries can happen anytime, so what do you do when you can’t compete or win?
Unless you find a day job, you’ll be making below poverty money and can only dream of supporting a family. Even if you were a gold medalist, you can’t serve your kids your medal for breakfast each day. Or buy them a new pair of shoes so they don’t get picked on at school.
Runners support each other
Maintaining a good training routine is tough when you have to work 8 hours a day to make a living. And even if you do it, you’ll be exhausted and your performance won’t be as good as it could be if you focused only on training. That’s why some athletes rely on private entities, sponsors, family, nonprofits, and donations.
Others are creative with GoFundMe campaigns and try to secure the money they need for equipment, travel, and competitions through new online sources of income. You can also find networks of athletes online who try to support each other get financial support and other forms of assistance.
A platform designed by runners, for runners
Counting on the world economy to recover and waiting for the better days won’t get the runners the support they need today so they can be devoted entirely to their sport and be able to smash records.
Thanks to the internet, we have the opportunity to create a global community of runners who support and motivate each other every day. Get Set Run is an innovative platform that allows us to connect, compete on a global scale, support a cause, and find sponsors through organizing virtual running events.
Want to raise some money? Now you can do it through running. Set up your own virtual running event through the Get Set Run app. Motivate, compete and connect with other runners anywhere on the globe, and get paid for it. You don’t have to invest any money to set up your event and get it featured, but you can get 90% of the income raised through paid event user registration.