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The Runner's Gift Guide

Posted Dec 08 2011 9:40pm
If there's one thing I love as much as running it's shopping! I've always been a big shopper and when I started running in 2010 it didn't take long for me to discover the wonderful world of running clothes, shoes, gear, gadgets, and more. So, needless to say, I think I have a pretty good idea about how to shop for a runner and there's a lot more to it then just a pair of sneakers!

Geared up and ready to run this past summer!
With that in mind I thought I'd showcase some gift ideas for those of you gifting to a runner or for those of you new to running looking to add to your running stash. Whether you're shopping for a beginner or an experienced marathoner there is something for them on this list!

$10 or less

Fuel: If your runner is doing any training runs or races longer than 1-1.5 hours then fueling up is a good idea. Individual servings run a few dollars and are sold by many different brands. You can choose from Jelly Belly Sport Beans to CLIF Shot Bloks to GU Energy Gels to Nuun dissolvable tablets and more. Any fitness or running store should have some in stock. They can usually be found near the checkout.

Foot Care: Surely runner's beat up their whole bodies doing what they're doing (my entire body hurt after I ran the marathon including my arms, abs, etc.), but their feet certainly take the biggest beating. I personally use Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Lotion with Aloe  to keep my feet in good shape, but there are many other brands that carry similar creams and some that even have ones specific for feet. If you want spend more than $10, luxury foot care items can be found at places like Sephora . The brand Bliss carries some really nice products including their Softening Socks + Foot Patrol Set . Another nice, but again more expensive, option for this category would be a foot spa bath .

Bodyglide: Oh Bodyglide. How I love thee so. If you've ever experienced any sort of chafing, whether you're doing a sport or just walking around in an uncomfortable piece of clothing, then  Bodyglide  will definitely come in handy! They have a men's and women's specific version and they come in stocking stuffer size. They last quite awhile too. I've had mine for quite some time.

$25 or less

Digital Sport Watch: If your runner has been running for awhile chances are they probably already have a timekeeping, if not a GPS-keeping, device. But, if your runner is relatively new to the sport or maybe you're buying for someone who wants to take up running, then getting them a digital sport watch may be a good idea. Many different brands  make simple sport watches so there are a lot of colors, styles, and features to choose from. Even though I use a GPS watch now, I'd say I still run about half of my mileage with my simpler sport watch just to track my time.

Winter Accessories (gloves, hat, ear warmers, arm warmers): It's that time of year to bundle up! Having a good pair of running gloves and a hat or ear warmer designed specifically for sweat-producing activities is definitely necessary for any outdoor winter runners. Almost all major sporting good brands make these items so there is a lot to choose from with respect to style, color, price, etc. Some of my favorites include Lululemon Running Gloves , The North Face Ear Gear , and Nike Arm Warmers .

Hat or Visor: Some runners may prefer to run without anything on their head, but for me personally, if it's raining out or if it's a particularly sunny day (especially in the warmer months and locales), I need a visor or hat on my head to keep the rain/sun/sweat out of my eyes. Getting a hat or visor that is made of a sweat wicking material is particularly important here. I really like Lululemon's Speedy Run Hat and Nike's Dri-Fit Classic Hat .

Hydration Bottles & Handhelds: Hydration is super important for runners so supplying your runner with a handheld water bottle is a worthwhile gift idea (especially if you live somewhere where you experience 100 degree days like the East Coast did this summer). At first it may sound uncomfortable to hold a water bottle while running, but many brands who specialize in this type of equipment have designed all sorts of ways to limit this discomfort by changing the shape, adding a strap, etc. Trust me, you really forget you're even holding it after a while. Major brands for this include Nathan  and  Amphipod .

Nathan Shoe Pocket: This thing is a real gem. For those times when your runner may not have a pocket or zippered pouch in their clothing, the Nathan Shoe Pocket comes in handy. It attaches right to your shoe laces and the pocket is nice and deep so you don't have to worry about your keys popping out during your run.

Running Socks: If you've never bought a pair of real running socks (that is, socks specifically designed for running) then you may be wondering why they aren't listed under the "$10 and less" category. The answer is that running socks are pretty pricey, often costing around $12-15 a pair. The good news though, is that they are totally worth it! Running-specific socks are padded in targeted areas (heel, toe pads, etc) and vented in other areas to allow your feet to breathe. Check out any major running goods brand.

Running Literature: This is an especially good gift idea for a new runner. When I first started running I super excited to discover Runner's World Magazine (and I still geek out about it every month when it arrives). If a magazine subscription isn't something that you want to give, then try a running-themed book. I have a short list of ones I've read on my Favorite Things page. I assure you that there are many more besides those though!

SPIBelt: The SPIbelt is no doubt one of the best running gear items that I own. It's expandable enough to hold your phone, keys, credit card, music, even your camera. It also comes in lots of fun colors if you're into that sort of thing.

Mike obviously took this picture to showcase the SPIbelt. Obviously.

$50 or less

Apple ipod Shuffle: Maybe I'm crazy, but I remember the first generation shuffle being at least $100 and only holding about 500 MB. Years later, it has 4 times as much space, is half the size, and can now be yours for a cool $49. As someone who occasionally runs with music, I was really excited to get my near weightless shuffle for on-the-go. If your runner already has a music player, consider buying them an arm band holder for it so it's more comfortable when they're running.

Hydration Waist Packs: While I love my handheld water bottle, there are times when I just want to go hands-free. Having a waist pack is a good substitute. I especially like the Nathan Triangle Waistpack and any of the FuelBelt products.

$100 or less

Running Shoes: Getting someone running shoes as a gift can be tricky. Between all of the different brands, heel to toe drops, and fits (from neutral to stability) it can be a difficult thing to shop for. If, however, you know exactly what type of shoe your runner wears, the size, and perhaps their favorite color then it can be a decent gift idea. Remember to get a gif receipt just in case!

Compression Sleeves & Socks: I'm a HUGE fan of compression wear for the lower extremities. They can be worn before, during, or after your run and help keep the blood flowing. Zensah compression sleeves are on the cheaper end ($40) and come in a variety of colors. For a more expensive option I love CEP compression socks ($60), which also come in a bunch of different shades (blue and red to debut in January!)

Whether a race or a long training run, you will often find me with compression socks or sleeves. I <3 them so much.


GPS watch: A digital sport watch is really nice to get the basics, but a GPS watch can offer a lot more. The feature I love the most is the fact that you can see your pace as your running, which is really helpful if you're training or racing and looking to meet a certain time. They have a lot of addition features outside of that (many of which I probably haven't even figured out yet). Garmin  makes some really nice models, including mine, the Forerunner 305. Regardless of which brand you buy, the most important thing to do when considering a GPS watch purchase is to read lots of reviews. I researched them for about a week or so before making a decision about which one I wanted.

Hydration Backpack: For those runners doing really long runs or trail races, a hydration backpack, such as the ones made by Camelbak or The North Face are a good idea. Even though they carry a good amount of water I barely notice mine when I'm wearing it.

Digital Camera: It's always nice being able to document all of the cool places you go when you run (especially if you run and blog!). During the summer I purchased the  Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 camera to take with me on-the-go. It doesn't have the best picture resolution, but it's waterproof (up to 16 feet), freeze proof, and drop proof (up to 5 feet), which makes it the perfect camera to take on the run. As always, do your research. There's bound to be other camera out there like it!

Of Varying Prices

Race Registration: If your runner is into racing, then consider purchasing a race registration for them. After all, those race fees really start to add up if you do more than a few each year! Of course, don't purchase any registrations unless you know your runner is available and willing to travel (if required) to the race.

Tech Clothing: I didn't mention clothing in any of the above pricing categories because frankly they can be all over the place. The most important thing to consider when purchasing clothing for a runner is to make sure it can breathe! Tech clothing is made specifically for sweating (and stinking). If your runner lives someplace seasonal, consider purchasing for the current weather. If it's winter, think long sleeves, pants, and jackets. If it's summer, think short sleeves and shorts. That way they can get use out of it right away. And, as always, get a gift receipt just in case the sizing is off!

Fellow runners - Got any other gift ideas?


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