The Cheap Athlete’s Guide to Running Socks

So you’ve started running and you’ve probably got some blisters. Those old cotton socks just aint gonna cut it.


Maybe the internet and magazines can help me with…OH MY GOD ARE THEY EXPENSIVE!

They’re socks. Chill.

Running socks, in my opinion, are one of the most over-engineered, over-thought and over-priced items for runners out on the market. No matter what you read on the internet or in the magazines you don’t need to spend much at all.

I know.

I’ve run a million miles in both fancy socks and cheapo socks and guess what?

I have no blisters and my times are exactly the same in a cheapo pair as they are in a fancy pair. And they all make it about 2-3 good years before they start to get holes.

So let’s just stop the insanity!

All you should really look for in running socks is:

  • They’re not 100% cotton
  • They have some breathability and help wick sweat
  • They’re not a million bucks

You need to know about zero more than that.

For fun I pulled three pairs of socks out of my drawer and looked up how much they cost. I received the Feetures socks in a swag bag at a half marathon and the Smart Wool socks were a gift.

The Puma socks I bought at Costco.

One of these things is not like the other.

That’s right, at Costco you can get a 6 pack of Puma running socks for $9.99 which comes out to $1.66 per pair!  You can buy almost 12 pairs of Puma socks for the cost of 1 pair of Smart Wool socks!

That’s alotta Puma Socks.

The Puma socks are 74% polyester, 24% cotton and 2% rubber and spandex and have both arch support and ventilation. Both Mrs. Cheap Athlete and I have been running solely in these socks for years. And they’re awesome.

But, Cheap Athlete, I don’t belong to Costco

Well, the good news for you is we’ve also scored these socks at TJ Maxx for about the same price. For those not in the know TJ Maxx is a treasure trove of running gear, especially for women. You almost never come out with what you went in there for but you always find something else! Just keep going back and take a stroll through the store. We’ve scored some high-end stuff for the price of Walmart junk.

The beauty of piecing together stuff from Costco, Running Warehouse and TJ Maxx is that none of your running outfits will match at all. All my gear is random, ugly colored stuff that made its way to clearance racks but I could care less. Who wants to look like the guy who just handed his credit card over to the people at Road Runner sports?

Nah, you want to be rocking at eclectic look. That’s how you look like you know what you’re doing.


Please stop spending way too much on fancy “running” socks. You just don’t need to. So head on over to TJ Maxx, Costo or BJ’s and grab a 6 pack of Puma socks and start running! If you do happen to get some blisters then simply rub some anti chafing stuff on the trouble areas and get going. You don’t need fancier socks.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention. These are the same socks I use for cycling because, you know, they’re socks. And “cycling” socks don’t help you pedal any faster than Costco running socks.

Happy running!