Christmas Gift Ideas for Runners

Do you have a friend or family member who is a runner, and you have no idea what to get him or her for Christmas? Bluetooth headphones, kettle bells, foam rollers, handheld water bottles, reflective gear, balaclavas, GPS watches… Continue reading for some great gift ideas that runners will love, no matter what your price range is.

BLUETOOTH SPORT HEADPHONES

Who likes wires? They can be especially annoying while running, and since most people carry their smartphones with them while they run these days, bluetooth headphones only make sense.

What kind? That depends how much money you want to spend. I personally have owned 5 different models of bluetooth headphones designed for running (sweatproof, lightweight, etc.), and my personal favorites so far are the Plantronics Backbeat Fit Bluetooth Headphones ($80-100).

Before this, I went through several pairs of Avantree Jogger Pro Bluetooth Headphones. They are very affordable ($30-50) and usually worked great for about 4-5 months before the batteries stopped taking charges. After going through warranty replacements enough times, I got fed up and spent a bit more on the Plantronics. Before the charging issues, the Avantree headphones would last through a whole week of runs without needing to be charged.

There are loads of other affordable options out there with mixed ratings. These might be great for someone who only runs a couple times per week, but for someone who runs marathons or works out 5-6 days per week, you have to spend more for quality bluetooth headphones that will last.

While I personally recommend the Plantronics Backbeat Fit mentioned before, the JayBird BlueBuds X seem to be popular and well-liked. If brand name is important, then go for the Beats Powerbeats 2 Wireless.



If bluetooth headphones are not your best option, look at these excellent choices for wired sport headphones: Yurbuds, Bose SoundSport, Bose Freestyle.


GPS RUNNING WATCH

While FitBit activity trackers have been uber-popular the last couple years, runners want something more than a basic fitness band. Runners want to track distance, time, pace, interval workouts, etc. while on the run, so you cannot go wrong with a GPS running watch or a smart-watch that tracks all of this and more. I personally wear the Apple Watch Sport, which I generally love, but I highly recommend reading about both my positive and negative experiences with the Apple Watch in my previous posts. Smart-watches offer many extras that more basic GPS watches do not offer, but they generally require also carrying your smartphone for the watch to do all the great stuff. If the runner in your life does not want to be tied to their phone on the run, then get them a regular GPS watch. The biggest names in GPS running watches are Garmin, Polar, Timex and TomTom, but most of the serious distance runners I know wear Garmin. The other brands have great reps too though. Given the plethora of options these days with smart-watches and GPS watches, there are quality options at almost every price point from $50 to several hundred. Here are some of the most popular and highest rated options available this year.









DAILY RUNNING AIDS

Here are a couple gift ideas that will aid runners on a regular basis, regardless of how far or how often they run.

The CamelBak Quick Grip Chill Handheld Water Bottle is perfect for carrying water on long runs and hot weather runs.

The CamelBak Quick Grip Chill Handheld Water Bottle is perfect for carrying water on long runs and hot weather runs.

The Camelback Eddy water bottle will keep the runner hydrated all day at home and work without going through dozens of disposable water bottles every week.

The Camelback Eddy water bottle will keep the runner hydrated all day at home and work without going through dozens of disposable water bottles every week.

Another option for carrying water is the Nathan Quickdraw Plus Handheld Bottle Carrier. I own this and the Camelback handheld, and I actually use the handstraps from the Nathan on the insulated bottle from the Camelback to make the perfect combo.

Another option for carrying water is the Nathan Quickdraw Plus Handheld Bottle Carrier. I own this and the Camelback handheld, and I actually use the handstraps from the Nathan on the insulated bottle from the Camelback to make the perfect combo.

Every runner who carries his or her phone needs a good arm band to hold it. I have had a few from Tune Belt, and they always hold up well.

Every runner who carries his or her phone needs a good arm band to hold it. I have had a few from Tune Belt, and they always hold up well.


CROSS-TRAINING EQUIPMENT

Many runners, like myself, spend 90% of their workout-time running, not going to the gym. We know that cross-training is important but often prefer to just run instead. Having some basic equipment at home makes it much easier to do cross-training exercises, even if only for a few minutes after a run. Here are some great options that are inexpensive and do not take up much space in the home:

Kettle Bells

The exercise possibilities are endless with kettle bells. They are a must-have for the home gym or for someone wanting to do some basic weight training. One recommendation when selecting kettle bells: get solid cast-iron or vinyl coated solid cast-iron. These will last forever, while cheap plastic kettle bells filled with concrete will crack and break after awhile. Same thing goes for dumbbells. Runners are not known for their upper-body strength, so a good place to start is with kettle bell weights ranging from 5-25 lbs before moving up to the heavier weights.

Make sure to get solid cast-iron kettle bells that will last forever!

Make sure to get solid cast-iron kettle bells that will last forever!

Don't get these cement-filled kettle bells. They are excessively large for their weight, and they will eventually crack and break apart.

Don’t get these cement-filled kettle bells. They are excessively large for their weight, and they will eventually crack and break apart.

Resistance Bands

Black Mountain Products makes some of the best, most affordable resistance bands available. I personally own them, and they are very highly rated.

Black Mountain Products makes some of the best, most affordable resistance bands available. I personally own them, and they are very highly rated.

Like kettle bells, resistance bands have endless possibilities for home work-outs. They are also cheap, light and portable, making them perfect to use at home or when traveling. These can be bought individually, but you can get a great starter kit for about $25-50 that has various handles and attachments.


Stationary Bike

This one is a bit more expensive, but in my experience a good stationary bike is an excellant supplement to a runner’s running workouts. I love riding mine when I am injured or just for cross-training. The right stationary bike is quiet and small enough to use in your home without disturbing others or eating up your space. You can go as expensive as you want with this, but I highly recommend the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse. It is cheaper (under $150) than most training bikes because it does not have all the bells and whistles, yet it gets the job done. I’ve ridden a couple thousand miles on mine over the last 18 months, and it is still good as new.


FOAM ROLLER & MUSCLE ROLLING STICK

These are must haves for a runner’s tool-kit. They both aid in muscle prep and recovery by helping runners work knots, tension and tightness out of tired muscles through self-myofascial release and deep-tissue massage. I don’t know what all those words mean, but I know that when I am marathon training, I cannot live without these items. They help my muscles recover daily. There are plenty of foam rollers for under $20, but it is worth spending $25-50 for a quality one that will work better and last longer.

After using a couple cheap $5 foam rollers, I invested in the TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller a few months ago and never looked back. It is vital to my marathon training and recovery.

After using a couple cheap $5 foam rollers, I invested in the TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller a few months ago and never looked back. It is vital to my marathon training and recovery.

Foam rolling for runners is painful, yet completely worth it when it helps their muscles recover faster for the next hard workout.

Foam rolling for runners is painful, yet completely worth it when it helps their muscles recover faster for the next hard workout.

A muscle rolling stick has many of the same uses and effects as a foam roller, but it can target certain muscles that are hard to foam roll.

A muscle rolling stick has many of the same uses and effects as a foam roller, but it can target certain muscles that are hard to foam roll.

The travel stick is portable and useful for any runner. I know I love mine!

The Travel Stick is portable and useful for any runner. I know I love mine!


WINTER RUNNING ACCESSORIES

Most runners are very particular about their running shoes, so unless you know the exact model and size they wear, I would not waste my money buying someone else running shoes without their knowledge. Some are just as particular about running socks and shorts/pants, however there are many other running accessories that your running friend might not have yet, some of which would make excellent (affordable) Christmas presents. Winter can be especially tricky for runners who want to keep running outside, so here are a few ideas that for the winter runner.

Flip-Top Mitten Running Gloves

In general mittens keep runners fingers warmer than standard running gloves, but mittens are often more difficult to use with touch screens and opening water bottles while running. That is why convertible running gloves, or flip-top mittens are the perfect gloves for running in cold weather. Your running friends might not know they need these, but if you surprise them with this gift, they will love it!

These convertible mittens for women allow full use of all fingers by flipping back the mitten-top. This is useful when you need to use a touch screen, but it is also nice to flip the top back when your hands get too warm.

These convertible mittens for women allow full use of all fingers by flipping back the mitten-top. This is useful when you need to use a touch screen, but it is also nice to flip the top back when your hands get too warm.

These pink fleece flip-top mittens would make the perfect gift for that girl in your life who runs all winter.

These pink fleece flip-top mittens would make the perfect gift for that girl in your life who runs all winter.

I have these Tek Gear Running Gloves/ Flip-Top Mittens, and they are perfect for winter runs.

I have these Tek Gear Running Gloves/ Flip-Top Mittens, and they are perfect for winter runs.

For especially cold weather, these flip-top mittens from Nathan still have full finger coverage after the mitten-top is flipped back.

For especially cold weather, these flip-top mittens from Nathan still have full finger coverage after the mitten-top is flipped back.


Reflective Gear

Anyone who runs outside at night or before sunrise needs reflective gear for safety purposes, but with drastic cuts in daylight during the winter, it becomes especially important to have the proper reflective gear. This is even more true for those who run in the snow and in the dark.

See & be seen with the Yalumi LED Headlamp Spark 105-Lumen 90-Meter Spotlight. When picking a headlamp for a runner, make sure it is not too large or heavy.

See & be seen with the Yalumi LED Headlamp Spark 105-Lumen 90-Meter Spotlight. When picking a headlamp for a runner, make sure it is not too large or heavy.

There are several colors available with the SmartLite Ultra LED Headlamp.

There are several colors available with the SmartLite Ultra LED Headlamp.

The Tracer 360 illuminated & reflective vest has 6 colors and 5 flashing modes. There is no way a runner will go unseen when wearing this!

The Tracer 360 illuminated & reflective vest has 6 colors and 5 flashing modes. There is no way a runner will go unseen when wearing this!

Nathan Strobe Light clips onto clothing and is barely noticeable by the runner, but it assures that the runner is seen by cars.

Nathan Strobe Light clips onto clothing and is barely noticeable by the runner, but it assures that the runner is seen by cars.

This Roadrunner Reflective Vest assures that runners can be seen by car headlights from all directions while running at night.

This Roadrunner Reflective Vest assures that runners can be seen by car headlights from all directions while running at night.


Winter Head Gear

Obviously keeping the ears warm on winter runs is important, but in extremely cold conditions it is important to also cover the nose and as much of the face as possible to prevent frostbite. It never hurts for a winter runner to have a balaclava in the drawer.

The TrailHeads Power Cap is a great beanie for running, and is has reflective elements.

The TrailHeads Power Cap is a great beanie for running, and it has reflective elements.

The Under Armour Men's ColdGear Infrared Tactical Hood is a balaclava that warms the neck, ears, nose, mouth and face while running.

The Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Infrared Tactical Hood is a balaclava that warms the neck, ears, nose, mouth and face while running.

The Saucony Women's Drylete Ponytail Skull Cap will keep a woman's head warm while running, but it also has a ponytail hole.

The Saucony Women’s Drylete Ponytail Skull Cap will keep a woman’s head warm while running, but it also has a ponytail hole.

This balaclava also provides a ponytail hole for women (or men) with long hair.

This balaclava also provides a ponytail hole for women (or men) with long hair.


Winter Running Foot Gear

As I said earlier, I would generally not recommend buying shoes for a runner unless you know exactly what size and model they wear. However, there are some options for protecting the feet while running in the cold weather and snow that could make nice Christmas gifts for the winter runner.

The Yaktrax RUN is the only traction device anatomically designed to meet the needs of runners braving the winter elements. Run naturally on packed snow and ice with the Yaktrax Run's combination of removable spikes and steel coils.

The YakTrax RUN is the only traction device anatomically designed to meet the needs of runners braving the winter elements. Run naturally on packed snow and ice with the YakTrax Run’s combination of removable spikes and steel coils.

The Salomon Men's Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoe are water resistant and winter-ready. They have a protective toe cap and have excellent traction on snow, slush and ice.

The Salomon Men’s Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoe is water resistant and winter-ready. They have a protective toe cap and have excellent traction on snow, slush and ice.

Darn Tough Vermont Men's 1/4 Merino Wool Ultra-Light Athletic Socks are great for winter running, and they are guaranteed for life

Darn Tough Vermont Men’s 1/4 Merino Wool Ultra-Light Athletic Socks are great for winter running, and they are guaranteed for life

Salomon Low Trail Gaiters will help winter runners keep snow and slush out of their shoes.

Salomon Low Trail Gaiters will help winter runners keep snow and slush out of their shoes.

salomon womens trail shoes

For the ladies, here is Salomon Women’s Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoe, which has all the same specs as the male shoe.


Check out all my other Christmas posts.