Best gifts for runners

What do runners want? Most of all, we want great scenery and polite traffic, and if we can swing it, we’d also love injury-free training. Everything else is gravy! It’s one of the best parts of this sport: you don’t need much to do it anywhere, any time.

Still, we are particular about our shoes and our technical clothes (so making gifts of these can be tricky, though you can find some great deals this time of year), but if you’re shopping for a runner, or if you’re looking for the best items to put on your own wish list, here are a few ideas for gifts that any runner would love.

Probably one of the most affordable and most appreciated gifts: A runner can never have too many pairs of top-of-the-line socks, like Balega and Injinji brands, or anything made with merino wool for the coldest times of year. Some folks love compression socks, too, so be sure to check out Zensah.

Great stocking stuffer ideas: ExOfficio Give N Go underwear (my favorite!), Sportslick, Dermatone lip balm, reflective armbands, and ENGO footwear patches, which prevent and relieve blisters (perfect for running shoes, but I understand they’re also excellent for dress shoes).

One of the best things to give is an experience: how about race fees, a night’s stay in a race location, massage, chiropractic care, pedicures, and training camps? (Shameless plug #1: In fall 2013, I’ll be coaching runners again with Dreamchasers, along with Lisa Smith-Batchen, Ray Zahab, and Julie Bryan–10% discount if you purchase before December 25, 2012.) A Facebook friend also suggested offering to accompany someone on training runs or to crew at an ultramarathon–selfless gifts, to be sure!

Other notable suggestions from Facebook: earbuds that don’t fall out; subscriptions to magazines like Marathon & Beyond, Ultrarunner, Running Times, and Trail Runner; books like (shameless plug #2) Running on Empty; a flask (?!); electrolyte supplements; race number belt; and an insulated water bottle.

All of these support the recipient in improving or maintaining good health, no doubt the greatest gift any of us enjoy.

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