Some of the (mostly weird) stuff I recommend for runners!
A gift guide before Thanksgiving? Yep, that’s apparently what we’re doing now! So, it’s (already) that time of year again… The time of year where you have to do a lot of holiday tasks, like possibly roasting a turkey, possibly sending out Christmas cards, possibly decorating cookies, possibly doing some extra cleaning in case you’re having guests over and you don’t want them to know how you actually live, and definitely shopping for yourself under the guise of holiday gift-giving. To help you, I’ve highlighted some of the nifty gadgets and gear any runner (aka you yourself) would enjoy. (For more ideas, click here for my extensive wish list from 2013 and here for my “dupes” edition from 2014.)
The Good Stuff!
Soundpeats Bluetooth Headphones – I’ve finally found a pair of bluetooth headphones I love! The SoundPEATs Q9A Bluetooth 4.1 Wireless Sport Headphones fit well in my ear (almost too well, blocking quite a bit of ambient noise) and hook over my ears ensuring a sturdy fit and no bounce, but can still be worn with sunglasses. They’re lightweight, the cord doesn’t get in the way or make noise, the battery seems to last quite a while (they claim 5 hours but I haven’t tested them), and they even have a microphone for calls (which I only just discovered, thanks Mom!). Occasionally I’ll get some interference or a dropped signal, but it usually resolves itself in a second or two. The controls (on/off, volume up/down) are small and I wish they had a separate skip button (instead of having to hold down the up volume), but otherwise these are currently the bluetooth headphones to beat. (SoundPEATs Q9A Bluetooth 4.1 Wireless Sport Headphones, currently $50 at Amazon, sometimes on sale at Amazon for $30.)
Athleta Neothermal temperature control top – I don’t own one of these (yet…) so I don’t know if they really work or not, but the idea sounds fabulous – a winter top that magically regulates your temperature so you’re never too hot or too cold. How does it do this? With magic??? I don’t know!!! (Neothermal Top, $79 at Athleta.com. Note that reviews say it fits small, so consider sizing-up, and to wash it inside-out to prevent snags. Also available in a hoodie version.)
Vizlet Snowflake – I’ve loved Vizlets for years now, and this season they have a cute new snowflake shape. Be seen, be safe. (Vizlet LED Snowflake, $10 each at Amphipod.)
Fenix HL23 Headlamp – After my headlamp disaster at Ragnar Trail New England, I wanted to get a nice, powerful headlamp. I’ve also committed to taking the NYRR running class at 6:30 pm, which currently starts and ends in the dark, so I felt like I could justify spending some cash on another headlamp. I went with my Ragnar teammate’s recommendation and got the no-BS Fenix HL23 150 lumen LED headlamp (currently $35 at Amazon, includes two batteries, requires one battery).
Phillips Wake-Up Light – In keeping with the light theme, let’s round it out with this sunrise alarm clock. I’ve been skeptical about these things for years, but after noticing how it’s dark now almost the entire day (and it’s still only mid-November!), I finally got one during an Amazon Gold Box sale. I’ve been using it the last week or so and while I don’t know if it really makes a difference in mood or energy levels or any of that jazz, it is a lot nicer to wake up to a bright bedroom than a dark one. This could be an especially nice present for the runner who wakes up early to run, or for your single friend who doesn’t have to compromise on their alarm situation. (Phillips Wake-Up Light with Radio, currently $119 at Amazon, newer, fancier version Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light With Colored Sunrise Simulation available for $115 with instant coupon.)
Garmin Forerunner 225 – Ugh, I already have a great Garmin (my Garmin 620, currently on sale at a jaw dropping $240 with heart rate strap included, originally $450) but now really I want the 225. I love my Garmin but hate wearing the chest strap, so I almost never do. This new Garmin 225 (pictured at left) has a heart rate monitor built into the watch itself – no more uncomfortable strap! Huzzah! Will knowing my heart rate change the way I’m currently training? Probably not, but still – heart rate without strap! (And it’s currently on sale at Amazon for $266, regularly $300.)
Luggage – Everyone always needs a new bag. No? You have plenty? You must be mistaken. Get a new bag. Pretend you’ll use it to carry stuff to the gym, or to an out-of-state-marathon, or on a trip around the world. Fantasize. Get another bag. Repeat. (Price on bags and fantasies vary.) (The bag on the left is Heys America Lightweight Pro 21″ Carry-On Spinner, the lightest-weight dual-bar handle spinner I found after copious research (only 5.1 lbs), available on Amazon for $112 with free shipping, but might be cheaper elsewhere on the interwebs. The backpack on the right is the Adidas Rumble, available in multiple colors at Amazon from $20 to $49 (price depends on color), is lightweight, water-resistant, and holds a ton.)
Weird (but still really good!) Stuff
Ruby’s Lube & Monistat Anti-Chafe Powder Gel – Ruby’s is my current favorite anti-chafe product for my feet and Monistat’s Powder Gel is my favorite anti-chafe product for bra lines and other, um, sensitive areas. Good gift items because nobody wants to buy this stuff but all runners need it. (Ruby’s Lube, 3 oz tube plus free mini tube, $15, & Monistat Anti-Chafe Powder Gel, 3 for $21 or 1 for $9.75 both at Amazon.)
Folca Pill Case – This isn’t specifically running related, but I learned about this case at EMT camp this summer and now it’s something I’ll never travel without. It’s about the size of a thick deck of cards and has 8 compartments (4 small, 3 medium, and 1 large). I recommend filling it with whatever OTC meds you use or might need on a trip, and then LABEL everything with the brand name, the generic name, the amount of active ingredient per pill, the expiration date, and ideally the dosage if there’s room (there’s a plain space on the case you can use to tape a small piece of paper with dosages printed on it). This ensures no forgetting which pill is which like when they’re all just dumped into a single container (like I used to do) and lets you know exactly what’s in each pill (extra handy if you’re overseas and need to restock, since you’ll have the generic name right there). Note that this case is not completely airtight or waterproof. Also, I do not recommend using this case for prescription medication – that you should keep in the bottle with your prescription information on it. [Shhhhh…. I made one of these for my parents and each of my siblings, which took a long time (and a lot of pills), but I hope they’ll find it as Type-A pleasing as I do.] (Folca Pill Case, $5.80 at Amazon.)
Skinny Pop Popcorn – This also isn’t exactly running related, but it is the most delicious 100-calorie snack I’ve found. I’ve eaten multiple, multiple boxes of this stuff, and I never get tired of it, because it’s simply popcorn with a little salt and oil. Freakin’ delicious, and sorta healthy I guess (and definitely better for you than those three-flavored tubs of popcorn that go stale after a couple days but you still eat because you can’t
stop eating waste food), and no one would be disappointed to get a box of this stuff this holiday. They might be puzzled, but not disappointed. (Box of 30 for $25.66 at Amazon.)
Stamina X Adjustable Height Plyometric Box – They have adjustable-height plyometric boxes? That’s almost inspiring enough for me to consider getting one someday! (Stamina X Adjustable Height Plyometric Box, $200 at Amazon.)
Undress dress – My sister got this for me last Christmas (while it was still a Kickstarter project) and it’s pretty nifty (sorry I haven’t done a proper review of it – I haven’t actually used it in the wild yet). It allows you to change without exposing yourself (sort of like the Chawel – but instead of changing inside a bag/towel, you slip the dress on over your bottom and under your top, so when you peel off your top layers you’re just wearing the dress.) If that’s confusing to you like it was to me, visit their website for the video. (The Undress, $79.)
Just Weird Stuff
The Gotta Go Running Skirt – Another Kickstarter project, this is basically running shorts with a skirt on top and a trap door on the crotch, so you can just drop the flap and pee behind a bush, without exposing yours. It’s a great idea if you don’t wear underwear when you run, don’t ever poop when you pee, and don’t mind not wiping before closing the trap door and running with urine-speckled shorts. (The Gotta Go Running Skirt, $75 on Kickstarter but MSRP of $79 – what savings!)
Race Dots or Race Clips – Can you not be trusted with sharp objects? Do you have issues with safety pins? Are you good about bringing small objects to a race? Are you good about then saving those small objects after a race and not losing said small objects? Do you not mind having extra weight (e.g. magnets, plastic clips) on the front of your running shirt? Do you like spending money on something you’ve been getting for free? Then race dots or race clips might be the perfect thing for you! (BibBits Magnetic Race Bib Holders, $17 with shipping at Amazon; EventClip Pinless Bib Race Number Fasteners, $8 with shipping at Amazon, Magnetic Bib Dots, $36 with shipping at Amazon.)
TigerLady Self-Defense Claw – OMG. It’s a device you grip in your hand during a run, and when you squeeze it literal claws come out, so you can scratch your attacker and run away with DNA evidence. Just don’t accidentally reach up to wipe sweat out of your eyes! OMG omg OMG. (TigerLady Self-Defense Claw, one for $29 or get the “running grips” package, two for $51 – one for each hand!) (Mom, please don’t even consider getting this for me – I already have like a dozen.)
What’s on your holiday wish list? What have you already bought for yourself? Are you going to have more nightmares about the TigerLady or the pee pee shorts? Share in the comments!