‘Tis the season! And by season, I mean shopping season! It’s almost Black Friday, and that means we’ve already been inundated for at least a month with emails, catalogs, and commercials for holiday shopping. I’m not complaining, since I love gear and sales and excuses to window shop (and actual shop). If you are stumped for ideas, however, I offer this Runner’s Holiday Wish List, which is sure to have at least one item you or your runner will love so much that you’d run through a snowstorm to get it.
(Make sure anything you buy can be returned in case it’s not the right fit or match for your runner and take extra caution on buying running shoes or sunglasses, unless you know the fit and preferences of your runner very, very well.)
For the Runner Who Loves Tech
- GPS Watch – I’ve heard great things about and am personally drooling over the new Garmin 220 and 620 watches.
- Fitness Tracker – e.g. Fitbit, Nike FuelBand SE, JawBoneUp or JawBoneUp24
- GoPro Camera – This would be especially good if your runner likes to do other extreme sports like rafting, skydiving, skiing, or mountain biking.
- iPod Nano – I loved my clip nano(s) since they had the Nike+ feature built-in, plus they were tiny, self-clipping, and still had a visible display unlike the shuffle, but they are constantly dying on me, and I’ve heard other people having the same problem. I don’t love the design of the newest 7th Generation Nano, but I’d like to get one that actually works…
- Sport Headphones – I use cheap, over-the-head ones (waiting for them to go back down to original price of $10 each, or you can get these in the meantime), but you could also gift a fancier, sport-specific style.
For the Runner You’re Worried About
- Road I.D. – There are lots of different styles and info you can put on a Road I.D., so this would probably be a gift certificate gift so your runner can customize.
- Reflective vest/headlamp – Especially good if your runner is thinking of doing a Ragnar relay. Also, Vespertine makes high-end (expensive), attractive reflective gear.
- LED safety lights – My favorite is the Vizlet as it’s bright, super lightweight, and can clip anywhere.
- Reflective Stickers – These stick onto just about anything and can be ironed for extra staying-power (they are small, but there are a lot of them).
For the Runner Who Has Her Hands Full
- Running backpack/hydration pack – I like my Camelbak enough, but a slightly larger daypack would be a great, more versatile item (e.g. Mountain Hardwear’s Fluid 12 or 18, a Salomon Racing Vest, Nathan Intensity Race Vest, or an Osprey daypack/hydration pack).
- A hydration bladder or bladder cleaning kit – If your runner already has a hydration system they like, you can get them an extra bladder or a cleaning kit.
- SpiBelt or Level Flip Belt – Both are great options to hold small items without bounce. I find SpiBelts to be easier to access during a run, but Level Flip Belts hold more without bouncing.
- Wrist Wallet – I like the Sprigs brand wrist wallets.
- Gas Cap Hat – I wear these hats to hold my gels for every marathon now. The company is out of stock of a lot of the styles and never replied to my inquiry, so I’m not sure what’s going on there, but the hats are great and hold a lot of gels for easy access and without bouncing. They are shallow hats so if you have a very large head they might not work for you.
For the Fashionable Runner
- Fancy running jacket – e.g. Lululemon, Brooks, Nike (e.g. Flash Jacket), Adidas, Lucy, Oiselle, Sweaty Betty. As with any gift, it’s nice to get something you don’t think they’d splurge on for themselves.
- Fancy running top or tights – e.g. any of the brands above or below
- Compression socks/calf sleeves or other gear – e.g. ProCompression, CEP, Under Armor, CW-X
For the Runner Who is Always Sore
- Tiger Tail massage stick – I like it much more than “The Stick” massage stick, so you can also gift it to a runner who already has a Stick as an upgrade. You could also get them the Tiger Tail Ball on a Rope.
- Foam Roller – You can go with the giant black roller or a more travel-friendly option.
- Ice Wrap – Like this one or this one, I use mine all the time.
- Full body compression suit – You’re meant to sleep in these to aid in recovery – I’ve always wanted to try one, but they’re a bit spendy. If you’ve tried them, let me know!
- Gift certificate for a sports massage – A full massage would probably be best, but even those 10-minute neck and shoulder massages can be great, and can be gifted in a pack.
For the Runner You Maybe Don’t Know So Well (aka Stocking Stuffers aka You Don’t Want to Spend Too Much…)
- Socks – Since it’s a gift, get them nice, fancy ones – if you’re a runner, a pair that you personally like. If you’re not a runner, ask someone at your local running speciality store for their favorite brand.
- Running gloves – You can go high-end on this with gloves from North Face or Lululemon with or ones with special wind-blocking features, or you can get them a pack of inexpensive semi-disposable gloves from Target or your local street vendor. I recommend whatever gloves you get, make sure they have touch-screen compatible tips.
- Headbands – When it’s cold and/or windy, I always need my ears covered. I really like this style, plus it’s reflective.
- Hats – There are tons of options, from lightweight caps to warm fleece winter running hats, but if it’s for a woman with long hair, consider a hat that has a ponytail hole.
- Buff – Multipurpose neck gaiter/ear warmer/hat-in-a-pinch. I like them because if I get too warm I can easily wrap them around my forearm/wrist and not be bothered with it around my neck. They sell smaller/shorter ones as headbands but I like to buy the regular size and cut them in half.
- Chawel – My favorite item of 2013, the changing towel (which can also be used as a makeshift sleeping bag or actual towel in a pinch). If your runner is doing Ragnar, this is an especially useful gift.
- Foot scrub or a callus shaver – Kinda gross, but useful (e.g. the Ped Egg or Revlon’s Pedi-Expert kit). You could hide this in a basket of running goodies so it doesn’t stand out so much.
- Anti-Chafe stick or lotion – I like Blue Steel, or you can get your runner a brand you personally like.
- Box of your runner’s favorite bars, gels, electrolyte powders/tabs/drinks – Or for even more fun, get them an assortment of new and unusual bars and treats for them to try!
- Subscription to StrideBox – a box of running treats (think gels, bars, powdered drinks) and one physical running item (e.g. water bottle, sport towel, safety light, safety bracelet, small bag) will be delivered directly to their door – gift subscriptions available for 1 month ($20) or 3 months ($50), or you can sign up for a recurring subscription for only $15/month.
For the Literate Runner
Note that I have not read many of these books, but they get decent ratings on Amazon and I don’t think a runner would hate to get these books, unless they’ve already read them.
- Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (great running book)
- The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer by David Whitsett (my favorite – and I’d recommend getting it in paperback over electronic)
- Marathoning for Mortals by John Bingham
- Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide by Hal Higdon
- Eat and Run by Scott Jurek
- Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
- Anatomy for Runners by Jay Dicharry
- Feed Zone Portables: A Cookbook of On-The-Go Food for Athletes by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim
For the Difficult-to-Shop-For Runner
- Gift certificates! – to your local running or sporting goods store (e.g. Jackrabbit, Super Runners Shop, Modell’s), for a sports massage, or for an online running retailer (like Amazon, Backcountry.com, or Road Runner Sports)
For the Runner You Really Want to Impress
- Alter-G treadmill – If you get this as a gift for someone, please contact me immediately so I can be your friend (or even better, your friend’s friend).
- Massage Chair
For the Runner Who Has Everything (Except More Memories)
- Race entry fee – Even better if you join them at the race (but make sure it fits in their schedule!).
- Membership to your local running club – Especially if your runner doesn’t already belong, but you could also look into renewing their membership for them.
- Running camp vacation – There are several different ones out there, so you can figure out which one works best for you.
- Running classes – Here in NYC there are lots of running class options, but this might be a more difficult find in other places.
- Private coaching – This is great if you already know a coach you like, or you can ask at your local running store, or see if your runner has a coach he’s been thinking about using.
- Volunteer to run with your runner, or volunteer at one of their races, or even just cheer for them – We appreciate it all!
What’s on your wish list? Share in the comments!