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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.