I have compiled a list of gift ideas and all the information about each gift (location, price, function, good brands and brands to avoid, etc.). I cannot count how many times friends have asked me what to get the special runner in their life and this is my attempt to help! For any runners reading, add your suggestions in the comments section!
SocksMost avid runners go through socks quickly and believe it or not, good socks are important to help avoid blisters and hot spots.
- Balega socks (one of my faves) are about $12.99 a pair, unless you find a deal. Fleet Feet sometimes offers buy 3 get 1 free. Most specialty running stores like Fleet Feet carry these socks. I have not found them in larger sports stores such as Dick's or Sports Authority, but you can also order them online for cheaper prices.
- Feetures is another good brand and these can also be found at many specialty running stores as well as some larger sports stores. Visit their site here.
- Asics, Nike, and Reebok are also good brands and you can usually get 3 pair for $12.99 and they come in loud and sassy designs and colors. Most large sports stores such as Dick's and Sports Authority carry these brands.
- One brand to avoid when sock shopping is Under Armor. I bought a pack of 6 socks and after one wear and wash, the toes had holes in them. I like their cotton-like running shirts, but I will not buy anymore of their socks (even if they do have some fun color schemes).
Hats and VisorsThese are another great gift for runners. I like visors best to protect me from bright sun and bugs, but in cold temps, I wear a toboggan.
- Headsweats are my all time favorite brand for visors. You can find these at specialty running stores such as Fleet Feet or your local running shop, and some other athletic stores carry them as well. These run around $20-$25. You can also order them online.
- As for toboggans, I think the louder the color the better. You can get these at Target, Wal-mart, Dick's, Sports Authority, Fleet Feet, First Place Athletics, etc.
GlovesThese are another must for cold weather running. I prefer to buy the super cheap pairs in case I need to toss them in a race.
- Target and Wal-mart sell these for $1.50-$2.00 for 2 pairs and these come in all sorts of colorful designs. A great stocking stuffer, and like socks, you can't have too many.
- If you want a nicer pair, Nike and Under Armor have some great gloves and you can get these at both specialty running stores and the larger sports stores such as Dick's and Sport's Authority. These run from $20-$30 dollars depending on the brand.
BooksThere are some great reads out there for runners so if your runner is a reader too, here are a few titles they may enjoy. Most of these can be found at local bookstores, although a safe bet is always amazon.com. Some specialty running stores carry popular titles as well.
- My Life on the Run by Bart Yasso. This is one of my all time favorite running books. Filled with stories of triumph and defeat, humor and adventure, this is the perfect book to inspire, uplift, and explain the highs and lows of a runner's journey. The paperback version is available on Amazon.com for $6.78, but there are not many copies left in stock.
- Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. This is another adventure story that covers the issues of running form, shoes and natural running. McDougall tells the story of a hidden tribe of "superatheletes" the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons. A great read to the very end. This one is $15.82 on Amazon.com.
- Run the Edge by Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano. This is a great read full of inspiring, moving stories to motivate every runner from the experienced to those just starting out. This book can be found at their website for $17.95.
- Mile Markers by Kristin Armstrong. I have not read this one yet, but it is on my wish list this Christmas. I have been reading Kristin's blog on the Runner's World website and I really like her writing style and approach to running. You can get this one at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com for around $11.00.
- The Runner's Rule Book by Mark Remy. This is another favorite of mine. A hilarious mixture of true and witty running etiquette. I found this one in Barnes & Noble a long time ago so I'm not sure if they still carry it, but you can find it on Amazon.com for $12.23.
Injury PreventionTwo things I use when trying to stretch out sore tendons and muscles are the foam roller (written about here) and the stick. Low priced and easy to use, these items are a must for the avid runner in your life.
- Foam roller - I purchased mine from Power Systems online for $18.95 (36x6). The standard white foam roller is great for getting to those hard to stretch areas such as the IT band. You can also find these at Fleet Feet and other specialty running or sports stores.
- The Stick - This is another rolling self massage tool, but one you hold in your hands. It is more mobile so runners can take it to races and events out of town if they wish. Many specialty running stores such as Fleet Feet carry this item, and you can also find it on Amazon.com. It runs from $27-45 depending on the brand.
Stocking StuffersBelow are some smaller items to keep your runner safe, visible and well fueled for those longer runs.
- Mace - Many running stores sell small mace sprayers, but you can also find them at places like Gander Mountain, Wal-mart, Dick's, Sports Authority, etc. They come in all colors and sizes and are great if your runner goes for early morning or late afternoon runs in the dark. These range from $10-$20 depending on brand.
- Sports Beans - Many runners (and other athletes as well) use these for quick, easy, portable fuel. They are a lot like jelly beans but with more than just sugar, and you can find these at most sports stores like Fleet Feet or Sports Authority. They cost around $3.00 each.
- Blinky lights - These are also important to keep your runner visible if they run in the dark. There are clip on lights and even lights you can wear like rings. You can get a 12 pack of the rings from Amazon.com for around $12.00. They are called Flashing LED Bumpy Rings. You can get the clip on lights from stores such as Fleet Feet for around $5-$12 depending on the brand.
- Other types of fuel your runner might like to try are Gu, Nuun, Honey Stinger bars, and Power Bar bites and gummies. These all make good stocking stuffers as well.
- Body Glide - This is another must for runners. It is an anti-chafe agent and it works like a charm. It comes in different sized tubes that look a lot like deodorant. Prices vary according to what size tube you get and these can be found at all sports stores and race expos as well.
- iPod Shuffle - Okay, maybe a little more than a stocking stuffer, this gift usually runs around $45-$50 depending on where you get it. For the runner who likes to rock out during a run, this is the easiest device. It clips on apparel (and many types of running apparel provide pockets for it), so that the runner hardly knows it is there. The controls are easy to use without looking, so runners can change a song, adjust the volume or pause it in mere seconds. You can find these at Wal-mart, Target, Best Buy, the Apple Store, and online on Amazon.com. An iTunes gift card is always a nice addition to this gift as well.
ApparelThis can sometimes be tricky unless you know your runner well and know their sizes. I'm pretty picky about what I wear since I like to be comfortable and feel like I look good in what I wear. Some brands run small while others run large, so that can be tough too. However, one safe bet is usually the tempo short.
- Tempo shorts come in all colors and are great for not only running but for gym classes, weights, walking and yard mowing. These can be found everywhere and run around $25.00 a pair. You can even get these designed with your favorite sports team logo on them as well.
- A good rule of thumb when purchasing apparel is to keep the gift receipt. That way your runner can pick something that works if your gift does not. Either way, you are helping them in their running journey, so don't feel bad if what you picked doesn't fit. A running apparel shopping spree is always fun!
Gift Certificate IdeasWanting to spend a bit more on the special runner in your life? Here are some gift certificate ideas that may help.
- Deep Tissue Massage - A massage does wonders for your runner and is always such a treat. Most spas have some sort of deep tissue massage (although you can't really go wrong with any of the other massage types), but if you are a Huntsville local I would suggest Kim Susor at the Body Reform Pilates Fitness Studio or Naomi Jacobs with Massage and Movement Synergy. These run anywhere from $70-$100.
- Pedicures - I don't know a runner (at least in the female category) who does not enjoy a good pedicure. These run anywhere from $25-$30 depending on where you go (a spa may be more than a nail salon). One thing to check on before you purchase your gift certificate, however, is the health score. This is usually posted somewhere inside the salon, and I would not settle for less than 100%.
- Private coaching or a personal trainer - If your runner is seeking to improve, one of these can always be of assistance. It is my turn to put in a shameless plug for Running Start, LLC. I do provide gift certificates and would love to work with your favorite runner to help them reach a distance goal, work on speed and endurance, running form and injury prevention. Check out my website for packages and pricing.