The month of December brings two things I love: Christmas and the beginning of spring marathon training. If you have a loved one that is also getting ready for some cold weather running I have some great ideas for holiday gifts. And runners, be sure to share this with anyone nagging you for what you want under the tree. There are gifts listed at all price points and since we are down to the last shopping days most of the suggestions are even available on Amazon Prime or Running Warehouse who both offer free 2 day shipping so it could be on its way before you even finish reading the post!
All suggestions are based on my opinion and experience. I have not been influenced by any sponsorship or free product. That being said I will gladly accept sponsorship and/or free product if anyone wants to offer it – but I’ll add a disclaimer when that happens.
Here are my picks for great gifts for runners in no particular order:
1. A warm running hat – we may have disproved the rule about losing 50% of our heat through our head but a good warm hat is still key in the chilly temps. My favorite is the Goodbye Girl Pony Tail hat by Trailheads – I have two. Its keeps me warm, it’s a good size and the ponytail hole is a must for me. They also sell more manly looking caps for dudes. (
$26.00 Currently on sale for $16; Available on Amazon Prime)
2. Gloves – Personally, I need several pairs of gloves for the season to put in the pockets of every coat I own. My fingers get so cold it hurts so a good warm pair can save the day for me. I have several from Saucony and Nike that I like but my favorites are again from Trailheads. This pair is warm and they have a bit of terry cloth around the thumb which is nice for wiping a runny nose. ($28; Available on Amazon Prime). I also recently added a new pair from Athleta with touchscreen compatible thumb and index finger so I don’t have to shed them to use my phone. Good thing the glove industry is keeping up with technology! ($39)
3. Shoe Traction Aids – Winter running is tricky with all the ice and snow on the ground and it can be a challenge to not slip and fall. Yaktrax slip over your running shoe to add traction and keep you stable. ($40.00) I also found a similar product in my local running store Marathon Sports called DueNorth Traction Aids for $35. Both are available on Amazon and some sizes on Amazon Prime.
4. Water bottle – Its still important to stay hydrated even when the weather is cool and if you are out doing long runs many of the public water fountains are shut off in the winter so you have to carry your own hydration. My favorite is the Quick Draw Plus from Nathan. They also sell hydration belts which I can’t imagine running in but people love them so it could make a great gift for your long distance running loved one. (bottle $19.99, belt around $29.99 and up; both Available on Amazon Prime and Running Warehouse)
5. Reflective Vest – this is an absolute must for winter running. Unless you have a job that allows you to go for a run during the 7 hours of decent daylight we get in January your runner needs a reflector vest to stay safe. I have always worn the Amphipod Xinglet since its super adjustable and isn’t loose on my small frame. They come in colors now and some have a little pocket (for keys, etc.) and blinking lights for extra safety. ($24.95 and up; Available on Amazon Prime and Running Warehouse)
6. Socks – I am a firm believer that you cannot have too many socks and since they get smelly, worn and lost in the dryer they make a great gift and stocking stuffer. Runners need a performance sock for workouts to avoid overheating feet (gross) and blisters so you want to shop specifically for an athletic socks and not a bag of cotton socks from Target. My favorite brand is Balega – super comfy, lots of options for thickness and cuff length and easily available at most athletic stores and online. ($8.49 and up; some available on Amazon Prime and Runners Warehouse)
7. GPS Watch – “But Laura – my runner has been REALLY good this year and I’m dying to buy them a super generous gift.” If that’s the case, take a look at some GPS running watches. These gadgets can tell the runner how far they have run, their pace, how long they have been running, heart rate, calories burned and how their hair looks at mile 16 (jk). For a distance runner they are amazing and very helpful when training for pace or heart rate. Several companies make good models but I have always worn the Garmin Forerunner. They start at $129 for the basic forerunner 10 which track distance, pace and calories and goes all the way up to the new 620 for $399 that has some more advanced features. ($129 and up; Most models available on Amazon Prime – don’t buy a used one)
8. Medal Display– If your runner has been racing for a few years they have probably started a collection of finisher medals that are collecting dust in a shoe box in the back of a closet. Sport Hooks offers a great way to nicely display the medals they should be so proud of. They come in dozens of designs with 5 or 10 hooks and also sell add on bars. You can also customize the design (customs are not available in time for Christmas). Click on the Sport Hooks link and then the Shop Now drop down, Running is the first option but they have designs for Triathlons and other sport as well. (Prices vary – most 5 hook designs start at $39.99 and the 10 hook around $63.95)
9. Body Glide – Distance runners can’t get enough of this anti-chafe lubricant. Buy a dozen and maybe it will get them through the season with minimal chafing. ($9.99 for 1.3 oz; Available on Amazon Prime and Running Warehouse) *Don’t be fooled by Body Glide for Her – its the same product in a smaller pink container. Seriously.
10. Runner Ornaments – Let your runner celebrate their favorite sport with an ornament for the tree. You can customize them with the runners name or just get a simple 26.2 or a cute saying. So fun. (prices vary)
11. Foam Roller – Have you heard your runner complaining about a nagging injury or the ever popular IT Band tendonitis? Buy them a foam roller and tell them to stop crying and get rolling. Using the foam roller properly is both incredibly effective and painful and will probably save them hours in a PT clinic. Here is an article from Runners World about how it can help with common injuries. You can get a super fancy textured roller or a simple foam, both are effective. ($11.50 and up – available on Amazon Prime). Make sure you tell your runner that owning the foam roller does nothing, they actually have to use it regularly to be effective. Annoying, I know.
12. Spirit of the Marathon – One of the best inspirational running films available and perfect for someone training for their first marathon. Spirit of the Marathon follows six runners preparing for the 2005 Chicago Marathon including some first time runners, middle of the packers, and elite runners Deena Kastor and Daniel Djenga. I cry at the finish line scenes every time I watch it. I’m actually tearing up right now just thinking about it. Spirit of the Marathon II was premiered at the Boston Running Film Festival in April but I missed it. That DVD will be available in February. ($9.63 – Available on Amazon Prime)
13. Runner ID – Hopefully, your runner will never be in a situation where they cannot immediately identify themselves but it does happen and if it happens to your loved one you would want first responders to have their emergency contact. Road ID makes several comfortable practical ID’s that can be worn on the wrist, ankle, and shoe. The runners name, emergency contact info and any medical needs can be printed on the ID. A gift certificate might be a good idea so the runner can give the details to include. Act fast if you want this in time for Christmas. ($19.99 for basic wrist or shoe ID; not available on Amazon)
14. Massage Gift Certificate – Your runner needs a massage and your 3 minute back/ foot rubs are not going to cut it all training season. Find a good sports massage therapist in your area or a simple massage clinic like Elements or Massage Envy and purchase a certificate for a massage session. Everyone loves a gift they can enjoy after the stress of the holidays.
15. Car Magnet or Sticker – If your runner doesn’t already have a car magnet or sticker boasting their favorite distance or telling the world that they are a ‘Runner Girl’, now is the time to get one. Thanks to that tool, Chad Stafko, for about 15 seconds we might have been a little self-conscious about celebrating our sport but we’re all over it now so show your runner that you celebrate it too! ($3.49 and up – Available on Amazon Prime)
I hope this list helps anyone still stumped about what to buy their runner for Christmas. If all else fails, a gift card to the local running store or my favorite, LuluLemon, is always a perfect fit. Merry Christmas everyone – I hope Santa brings you everything you want including that new race PR!