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 .
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.
$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!)
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?