Hanukkah is here and Christmas is just around the corner. With eight nights of lights and stockings to fill, I’m sure we all have lots of gifts to buy. So here’s a handy holiday gift guide for runners.
Thankfully, runners are pretty easy people to shop for. Our sport offers all sorts of gizmos and gadgets for every type of budget. And if you’re not sure if the runner on your list already has a GPS device/heart rate monitor/hydration belt/running gloves, here are 10 more general gift ideas any runner would love.
- The Stick. Lots of runners have tight muscles. I try to balance yoga with training, but even then my calves sometimes feel like they might snap. I’ve seen these things at marathon expos and I’ve always been intrigued. The Stick compresses and stretches muscles to ease pain. Models vary by length and firmness—the website even has a cool calculator that tells you which one is best for your body type. The Marathon Stick is ideal for distance runners. $32.
- An iTunes gift card. Let the “to headphone or not to headphone” debate rage. Lots of people like to listen to music while running—if not on the road or the trail, on the treadmill at the very least. I never race with headphones, but I sure do train with them when I’m running solo. And I always appreciate free music. Available in $15, $25 and $50 denominations.
- The Shoe Pouch. If your runner uses the Nike+ iPod Sport Kit, as I do from time to time, the Shoe Pouch allows you to attach the kit’s sensor to any pair of shoes, not just Nikes. I have one on my Mizuno’s and could probably use another one for my Asics. It comes in eight colors and stands up to the elements. $5.
- Road ID. In case of an emergency, runners should have an ID on them during jogs. And if your runner is like me, most of the time they probably don’t. Enter Road ID, available in wristbands, ankle bands and shoe straps, which can be engraved with emergency contact information and an inspirational phrase. $20-$30.
- Body Glide. Body Glide. And Body Glide. Let’s just say I’d be happy to find a stick or two in my stocking. Body Glide is a non-petroleum lube that prevents blisters and chafing, public enemies No. 1 and 2 for runners. And best of all, it really works. $6.
- Spa certificate. My family has been on the ball with this one for years. They love to ply me with gift certificates to my local spa and I love to have post-race massages and pedicures. I think they know I probably wouldn’t spend the money to pamper myself, but boy am I glad they do. Just like sandwiches taste better when someone else makes them, I think massages feel better when someone else is paying for them. Prices vary by location.
- Race Entry Fee. How ‘bout an old fashioned homemade gift certificate good for one race entry fee? It’s just like giving the race itself as a gift. Race fees vary in price from $15 to upwards of $100. For example the 2010 New York City Marathon has an entry fee of $185 ($149 for New York Road Runners members.) Run a few races a year—I ran 11 in 2009—and they add up. Prices vary by location.
- Socks. I know, I know. It’s a socking stuffer cliché. But the truth is, when it comes to running, I can’t have enough socks. More socks mean I do laundry less often. And that makes me happy. But don’t buy the runner on your list just any pair of socks. Cotton will not do. Spring for socks that wick away moisture, provide cushioning and give support in the right places. Some of my faves include Nike, New Balance and Adidas. $5 to $20.
- Magazines. A subscription to Runner’s World, Running Times or Women’s Running is the gift that keeps on giving—for a whole year. These magazines are full of tips, race coverage and stories about, you guessed it, runners. $10 (Running Times), $12 (Runner’s World) and $20 (Women’s Running).
- Books. If your runner is a reader like me, a good book about running is always a welcomed gift. Here are a few titles that will inspire them to lace up a pair of sneakers and hit the pavement:
Memoir: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.
Given to me as a gift, I’m currently reading this running memoir by one of Japan’s great novelists. (Check out The Windup Bird Chronicle for a breathtaking example of his fiction.) As a writer and runner, Murakami waxes more than poetic on the sport that he loves through diary entries, essays and musings on life. $14.
Novel: Once a Runner by John L. Parker, Jr.
Originally published in 1978, this novel follows collegiate runner Quentin Cassidy on his quest for a 4-minute mile. The book became a cult classic in running circles leading to its reissue earlier this year. $15.
Non-fiction: Duel in the Sun: The Story of Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America’s Greatest Marathon by John Brant.
Americans Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley went toe-to-toe in the 1982 Boston Marathon, and found their lives changes forever. Considered one of the most epic battles in American racing, Duel follows that race and the runners in the years that followed.
Happy Holidays and happy shopping!