I had absolutely no idea what I was doing the first time I set out to buy athletic gear. I went to a local sports shop, and about $150 later, I had two pairs of high-end running shorts and a pair of shoes that didn’t even fit me.

Whether you’re a lifelong athlete or just need some gear for the upcoming Cooper River Bridge Run, finding workout clothes on a budget can be tough.

You’ll want to avoid cheap exercise gear that can cause problems such as chaffing and joint pain, but you also don’t want to spend a fortune on something to sweat in.

Here are some ways to find quality athletic gear that won’t empty the wallet:

When it comes to athletic shoes, it’s pretty hard to skimp. It’s best to stick to well-known brands that have dedicated years of research to perfecting shoes for specific types of activity. You’ll pay more upfront, but trust me, your joints are worth it.

My advice is to visit a specialty athletic store, where they can assess your foot movements and make recommendations on what type of shoe you’ll need. But instead of immediately buying the pair that fits, take a few days and do some research. You may be able to find an older model of the shoe you like online, which wouldn’t cost you as much. I’d say aim for the $45-$75 range on a good pair of supportive shoes.

Exercise clothes are easier to find on the cheap, but be wary of poorly placed seams or fabrics that aren’t breathable. For shirts, look for mesh blends instead of cotton, which tend to weigh you down as you sweat.

The Asics Core Women’s Short Sleeve is a good example, and you can find it at runoutlet.com for $15, about $10 cheaper than its retail price.

I have a few pairs of the Nike Tempo Track running shorts, which cost about $35 per pair, but I just discovered the Champion running shorts, a knock-off version from Target that fit almost as well and cost about half the price of the Nike shorts. Find them at Target.com.

For items such as sports bras and socks, I like to check TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Ross first. The selection can vary, but I’ve found brands such as New Balance and Asics in discount bins for a fraction of their typical cost.

Keep in mind that there are still end-of-season sales to take advantage of, so even if you can’t wear sale items until it’s cold again, it’s a good idea to stock up while the quality winter gear is selling for cheap.

Email Abigail Darlington at Charlestonsavvyshopper@postandcourier.com. Find more ways to save by liking our Facebook page and visiting the blog at charleston savvyshopper.com.