Updated: Feb 28
Okay, it’s the holidays! What gift can you get that runner in your life?
Running is an inherently simple sport—you technically don’t even need shoes, though I recommend them!
However, especially around the holidays, there is always a company trying to sell you the latest gadget or device. It’s easy to think the latest tech or gear will make your runner's runs more fulfilling, or make them fitter and faster.
But will it? Almost definitely not.
Here are some thoughts on gift ideas that runners really want!
Many of these ideas were crowd-sourced from Miles and Mountains Athletes where noted.
The Happy Runner, by David and Megan Roche. How to be a happier - and faster - runner and human.
Endure, by Alex Hutchinson. An accessible book about research on the elasticity of human endurance.
The Sports Gene, by David Epstein. How much of sports success is due to genetics vs. training?
Rebound, by Carrie Jackson Cheadle and Cindy Kuzma
Once a Runner, by John L. Parker, Jr. is a must-read novel for the competitive runner. But do not follow any of the training!
North, the story of Scott Jurek’s Appalachian Trail FKT.
Ready to Run, a simple and to-the-point book by mobility phenom Kelly Starrett that will help you with all the non-training details to get you feeling and running your best!
Coaching and Racing
Get your runner a coaching gift! (Or at least get them started on the journey). Coaching isn’t just for elite athletes – in fact intermediate runners can reap even more benefits!
Having a coach not only results in fitness gains, but also a decrease in stress. It’s a really nice peace-of-mind: knowing you don’t have to be the one to figure out your training, and that someone is always paying attention to what is best for you not only as a runner but as a person. The fitness gains are just icing on the cake! Let a coach take your runner to the next level, and decrease the time they spend stressing about their running. (Recommended by M&M athlete Amanda)
Or, get your runner a race entry! If you don't know the kind of race they'd like to enter, a simple card saying you'll pay for the race entry of their choosing. (Recommended by M&M athlete Shannon)
Runners want to run, regardless of conditions. Thunderstorm? Check. Tornado warning? Yup. Blizzard? Probably the most fun you could have! Flash flooding? Indeed. Texting drivers on narrow roads in the winter with icy conditions? Gotta get it in!
What can you do to keep your runner safe?
My number one recommendation is the Noxgear Tracer vest. It’s HIGHLY visible, and comfortable to wear. It’s the best I’ve seen on the market, though I’ve suggested some small improvements to the company. If your runner doesn’t have a good headlamp, that’s another thought. Look for something with at least 300 lumens for most running, a bit higher is handy if they do technical trails. For trail running, they might be happy with a handheld or belt-level light as well, which offers a bit better depth-perception. I often use a combination of both.
Live in an area where snow/ice is a problem? Gripstuds or La Sportiva Hobnails are a much better choice for traction than YakTrax and just as reusable.
Are they looking to try snowshoe running? Any area that has snowmobiles likely has lots of options for good snowshoe running, and Dion Snowshoes are a phenomenal Vermont-made choice.
If they like music, audiobooks or podcasts while they run, check out Shokz (formerly Aftershokz) headphones. They work via bone conduction, so they keep the ears open for safety! This technology has come a long way in the past few years, and I've been very impressed! (Recommended by Josh and M&M Athletes Maggie and Lauren)
Comfort and Clothing
There are some things that just make running feel better.
A good pair of running sunglasses. Bonus points if they’re photochromic, so they can be used in lots of settings. Sunglasses aren’t just for sun! They protect your eyes from tree branches on the trail (you do not want a damaged cornea), from dirt and dust on dirt roads, and from the cold wind in the winter. I even use clear lenses at night in the winter. I’m partial to Roka and Rudy Project, but there are lots of great brands including Julbo, Tifosi, Oakley, etc.
Another idea is waterproof socks. These add some significant warmth via wind resistance, as well as keeping water out during those slushy early spring runs. You can find them from Sealskinz and others. Neoprene socks are another option, but be aware that they work by trapping a thin layer of water against the skin, so they do require a tight fit, and to be wet! (Recommended by Josh and M&M athlete Bill)
Waterproof running gloves. These can be tough to find, as most waterproof gloves are heavily-insulated, which isn't great for running. Alyssa recommends these waterproof mittens, which can be layered over gloves for warmth or worn without. (Recommended by M&M athletes Alyssa and Bill)
Wool base layers, such as those from Icebreaker, Smartwool or others. Merino wool base layers may be more expensive, but they are far better than the polyester-based alternatives. They work in a wider range of temperatures, wick and dry just as well, but have the added benefit of resisting odor buildup. Some people can get away with using the same layer for a week or more without odor – seriously! (Recommended by Josh and M&M athletes Lauren, Eric, Amanda and Anna)
Merino wool buff or balaclava, available from a variety of makers. Recommended by M&M athlete Amanda)
Running vest of their choosing. (Be sure to allow them to choose - running vest choice and fit is immensely personal! I'd recommend a gift certificate or a store with a good return policy!) (Recommended by M&M athletes Dana and Maggie)
Their favorite brand of running hat/headband or running socks. It is a scientific fact that runners can never have too many hats or socks! (Recommended by Josh and M&M athletes Amanda, Bill, Tory and Anna)
Fun running t-shirts
Running Christmas ornament
Extra soft flasks or bottles for their brand of vest/handheld
Their favorite sports nutrition product
Blinky visibility light
Anti-chafe from Squirrels Nut Butter, Bodyglide, Aquaphor, etc
(Recommended by M&M athletes Maggie, Dana and Amanda)
Do you have big goals for your running? Did you know that coaching with individualized and evolving training has been proven to be more effective than training plans?
Miles and Mountains Coaching is empathetic, person-centered coaching blended with effective, science-based training. I've helped hundreds of athletes of all levels balance short-term progress with long-term athletic development to smash their goals!
See how much 100% customized, unlimited and supportive personal coaching can help you step outside the training plan and balance truly effective training with adventure, enjoyment and life!
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