I think the new Nano makes the ultimate runner gift. It is so small that I can fit it inside the key pocket of my running shorts. And, believe it or not, it takes great video! I shot video during the Marine Corps Marathon with my Nano and uploaded it to YouTube. How cool is that?
I always have my iPod with me when I race anyway; now, I can shoot video at the start line of the final exciting pre-race moments with my friends, and then I can shoot video right after we finish when we are all spent but happy. Those are the best videos because there is so much emotion. I just love it.
I also like to download podcasts about running. One podcast I always download is Running Times Magazine. Scott Douglas interviews a different famous runner or coach every week. Another podcast I enjoy is NPR’s Sunday Puzzle. Since I love word puzzles, that one is always entertaining. With all the thousands of free podcasts available, it is not hard for anyone to find many that they would like to hear.
I often listen to audiobooks while I run. This is especially helpful on longer training runs. I purchase audiobooks and download them to my Nano. I have listened to “The Da Vinci Code,” “Animals in Translation,” “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,” “Into Thin Air,” “The Secret Life of Bees,” and “The Life of Pi.” Wouldn’t it be great to upload a couple of books to the Nano before you give it as a gift? In that sense, you would be giving two gifts.
Another idea is that you can load it up with a playlist of your favorite running music, another good way to personalize the gift and show someone how much you care. The final reason an iPod makes a nice gift is that it can be engraved, a nice touch. My husband gave me a new Nano for my birthday, and he had it engraved. I didn’t think I needed a new iPod because I had one of the original ones, but I have to admit I have loved having this newer, smaller model with its added functionality.
Now, of course, I realize there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of MP3 players on the market. I prefer the Nano, but I know there are many other similar products. I suggest asking other runners to recommend a unit they have found dependable and functional. A major consideration here is that it needs to be easy to use. Small is great, but I don’t think I would want anything smaller than the Nano, for example, because it would just be too hard to see what you are doing and hit the right button while running.
A Running Watch with GPS
Garmin makes excellent GPS enabled running watches. I highly recommend the Garmin Forerunner 205, 305, or 405. One cautionary note, though. They don’t like sweat, so if the running you are buying for is a heavy sweater, suggest wearing a wrist sweatband underneath it. I have the Garmin 205, and it has served me well. For years, when I went for a long run, I’d have to drive it off before or after my run to check the distance. With my Garmin, I never have to give that a thought. Also, of course, I love being able to look down and check my speed. The reason I recommend the 405 is because it is smaller on the wrist; it looks more like a wrist watch, and it has the added feature that it displays average speed. That’s nice, but it is more pricey. I plan to purchase a Garmin 310XT soon. It is waterproof, so it will be great for triathlons. Some Garmin models are heart rate monitors as well, and that is a valuable added feature.
Heart Rate Monitor
These serve two main purposes. One, is that they allow you to make sure you are working at the appropriate level. If you are supposed to be doing a certain level of difficulty when you are doing speedwork, the watch, in fact, the heart, does not lie. You know your true effort. The second benefit is as a control device, an even bigger benefit, I think. You can make sure you are not running too hard, putting out too much effort, when you are on an easy run. Indeed, overtraining, is at least as much of a problem as undertraining. For this reason, every runner should use a heart rate monitor to control effort expended on easy training days because too much effort expended on an ‘easy’ training day will impede progress toward greater fitness.
What runner doesn’t want new shoes? This is a good time to get that runner the pair he or she has been drooling over. You know, I mean that pair that is just a bit more expensive than the shoes that person usually buys. Every runner should always have at least two pair of running shoes and alternate between them. That way the shoes have time to dry out and decompress between runs. And consider that shoes should be replaced about every 500 miles. A runner can never have too many shoes. Another idea would be to give a pair of off road or trail shoes. And if the runner you are shopping for does shorter distance races, he or she might like to have a pair of racing flats.
Vibram Five Finger Shoes
These shoes deserve a separate mention because they are wild. They are the closest thing to running barefoot and really allow the wearer to feel the trail while still providing protection. I love them; however, I don’t necessarily recommend them for running. I plan to get a pair myself and experiment, but I will be VERY careful and only run off road with them; and even then, I plan to start out with only like one tenth of a mile. That said, these shoes are wonderful for just wearing around, and for yoga, etc. I have tried them on and they are really NEAT.
These unusual shoes deserve a separate mention as well. If the runner you are shopping for does not have a pair, this would be a valuable and very inexpensive gift. Of course, you would never run in these shoes. No, I am recommending them as the ideal shoe to put on after a long run or race, because they provide maximum cushioning and ventilation for tired feet. Now, some people don’t like the way these look; they’re not exactly sporty or stylish, but for comfort and practicality they are a ‘must have,’ for runners. Due to the air holes and the loose way they are designed to fit, Crocs provide optimal ventilation, and the soles are just one thick cushion. I did a half marathon with several of my friends yesterday. After the race, we all happily kicked off our running shoes and donned our Crocs for the ride home. Oh, that felt good.
An Audible.com gift certificate would be useful for anyone who runs with an MP3 player. I have been a subscriber for years. I pay a monthly fee, and that buys me two book credits. It’s great to be able to search Audible’s massive library of MP3′s of books. I always find plenty of options, and I love listening when I am running. Many times I have run a little farther than I planned or added on a mile of walking because the book was so good that I didn’t want to stop listening. One book might last as much as ten hours; that’s a lot of entertainment, and it really gives me a reason to look forward to my next run. Since it is a gift certificate, it can easily be purchased online, a good last minute gift option.
Ooh la la! Wouldn’t any runner want a massage — or two — or three? Massages are not just for pleasure. They help get runners primed for races, and afterwards, they help with recovery. But, hey, who needs a reason for a massage? Yes, a massage gift certificate is ideal, but ask around and make sure to find a licensed massage therapist with an excellent reputation among runners. Again, this can sometimes be handled completely online if the therapist has a website.
This handy gadget is very effective for massaging sore muscles and working out cramps. Every runner should have one. It is an inexpensive but valuable gift.
Find out what kind of running shorts the person likes, and get a couple more pair just like them but in different colors. Most of us have our favorites and would love a couple more before the manufacturer changes the style, like they always do. The most popular shorts out now seem to be Nike’s Tempo shorts. If you don’t know what style to get, this is your safest bet. In a recent half marathon, I looked around and counted ten other people wearing Nike Tempo shorts. (Well, you have to do something for entertainment on a long run.) A lightweight running jacket would be nice at this time of year, too, especially in cold climates.
Give the gift of music with a gift certificate for iTunes. This could last well into the new year. Most of us regularly download new running music, and the gift certificate could also be used to download audiobooks. A great thing about this gift is that it can purchased online. This is an ideal last minute gift option.
Hats, Caps, Visors
Many runners wear hats or visors some or all of the year, and it is nice to have several, so this is always a good option. Many people wear them to keep warm in the cooler months, but lots of people like to wear them throughout the year to keep their hair out of the way. I wear a visor every time I run, so runners like me like to have at least several.
How about a gift certificate to a yoga studio? All runners would benefit from yoga, but sometimes the added expense is prohibitive. If the runner you’re buying for already has a membership to a yoga studio, why not get that person a yoga mat? It is really nice to have your own.
Runners need lots of socks, and good socks are expensive. It is also fun to give funny socks. A runner can’t have too many.
Everybody sometimes has to run in places where there is no drinking water available. On a long run, a hydration pack is a necessity. Amphipod and Nathan offer a variety of models. This is an especially helpful gift for a trail runner or marathoner.
There are hundreds of books about running, and most runners are fascinated to read some famous runner’s philosophy. An excellent book that came out in the last couple of months is Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run. I’ve just started reading it, and so far it is fascinating. If you don’t know what book to buy, I recommend any of the books published by Runner’s World Magazine, and two authors to look for are Jeff Galloway and John Bingham. Another idea is Running with the Legends by Michael Sandrock. There are lots of great options, though. Along these same lines, Runner’s World puts out a calendar; I get one every year. It obviously has photos of runners, but it also includes a pace chart and many running tips throughout.
Number Belt or Joey Pouch
A number belt is handy, particularly for triathletes. Any runner might like to have one, though, because it enables the runner to stop putting holes in their shorts when attaching a race number. I have a Joey Pouch that I love. Essentially, it is a pouch/pocket that is attached to an elastic waistband. I can put my phone, a few gels, and keys in it when I run. There are several different brands being made, and your local running store is likely to carry at least one of them. These is really helpful because, amazingly, some manufacturers do not put a pocket in running shorts.
Many runners are forced to run in the dark, either in the early morning hours or in the evening. For these runners a headlamp is ideal. Just a few weeks ago I took a tumble when I was running after dark, and I didn’t see a spot where the sidewalk had lifted up over a tree root. It wasn’t pretty. One moment I was happily chatting away with my running buddy, and the next moment I was skidding on concrete. I came away with two skinned knees, painful palms, and a desire to get the very best headlamp on the market. I have seen people carrying flashlights, but really a headlamp seems like a much better idea.
Runner Specific First Aid Kit
Why not put together a first aid kit as a gift? It would not be expensive but would demonstrate how much you care. Essential items: band-aids (the flexible fabric kind), Neosporin or any antibiotic ointment, an ace bandage, nail scissors, cotton swabs, gauze pads, adhesive tape, Q tips, an ice pack (the kind activated by a chemical reaction), a small wash cloth, tweezers
For the same reasons as stated above, a vest with fluorescent stripes would be a great idea. I’ve seen some that say “RUNNER” and that is a nice touch. This gift could save a life, and it costs about $20.
I have two Amphipod Pockets, and I love them. They have a metal clip that clips onto the waistband of running shorts. Excellent for keys, phone, iPod, etc. Every runner should have one of these.
I don’t know if these work or not, but I’ve seen lots of runners using them. The runner you’re buying for might like to give them a try.
Load up on GU, Shot Blox, Jelly Beans, Power Bars, etc. Again socks are good for this. How about a key container that can be attached to the shoe? Shoe inserts can cost upwards of $20, but they can extend the life of a pair of shoes, and they also make them fit better. You can’t go wrong with this.
I have one of these. It is great for loosening up ankles before and after a run, and it is also beneficial for working on balance, an often overlooking element of conditioning. I’ve been using it for several years. At first I just thought of it as being a way to improve balance, but I soon learned that it feels great to just roll it around in a circle motion to loosen up my ankle joints in a controlled, safe fashion; it’s kind of like if someone took your foot in their hand and gently rotated it around to the comfortable extent of your range of motion. I hope that explains what I mean.
Some people would say running is a sport that doesn’t require a lot of gear, but if you ask a runner, we would probably all disagree. The thing is that some of it also has a limited life, shoes, for example. And even watches and electronics will eventually need to be replaced in lieu of newer, fancier models. Also, let’s face it, runners sweat a lot, and that eventually ruins lots of gear. At my website I explain the various training methods and procedures, which would help to explain how some of these items can be utilized by any runner. Now, get out there and