Buying gifts for runners is not as easy as it may seem – especially because many of the best runner gifts, such as shoes and clothing, are items for which most runners have very personal preferences. So we’re here to help with some really great gift ideas for runners, along with some practical advice on buying gifts for the men and women who run – in order to help you find the perfect gift for the unique runner in your life!
Gifts for Runners – General Tips and Advice
Three tips before we get to the list:
- As we mentioned, running shoes and apparel (shirts, shorts, etc.) are often the best gifts for runners. (We’re runners ourselves, and the best running gift you could get us would definitely be an extra pair of our favorite running shoes!) However, every runner has different wants and needs – and while the wrong running clothing may just be uncomfortable, the wrong running shoes can actually lead to injury! If you want to gift your favorite runner some shirts, shorts, or shoes for Christmas or his or her birthday, it will definitely be appreciated – just try to find out what’s on their list!
- Remember, some of the best gifts for runners are things that you won’t find for sale in any store! For example: A massage (from yourself or a professional) would be greatly appreciated by any runner with tired legs! Or, if you’ve got a big enough budget – how about a trip to that race that they’ve always dreamed of running? And, of course, the best gift of all will cost you nothing – your enthusiastic support, as you cheer them on from the sidelines at their next race!
- And finally: Know your runner! Some great gifts for marathoners/ultramarathoners may not be very practical for 5K/10K runners. And some of the best running gifts for weekend warriors may not be very useful for serious competitive runners. Just keep this in mind while scrolling through the list below!
Okay: on your marks… set… go buy some awesome gifts for the runners in your life!
1) “The Stick” Muscle Massage Roller Stick
“The Stick” is an innovative device that can be utilized for massaging one’s own muscles – helping to improve flexibility, aiding the body’s disposal of lactic acid, and contributing to the avoidance of muscle injuries commonly suffered by runners. It’s used by pro athletes and medical professionals… and also by many runners of all levels who simply swear by it!
Various different models are available. Depending on your gift budget, for example, any runner is sure to appreciate receiving either the smaller “Travel Stick” or the original “Stick”. (And there are even special models designed specifically for the unique needs of marathoners or sprinters!)
2) Garmin Forerunner GPS Watch
We’ve been running with various models of the Garmin Forerunner for more than a decade, and we feel it’s an essential running accessory to guide any runner’s training (except maybe those who have professional coaches!)
The Forerunner provides detailed GPS tracking of running activity – providing the runner with up-to-the-second information regarding his or her pace, distance, laps, etc. And for those runners who prefer heart-rate-based training, many models even incorporate a heart-rate monitor.
Even a relatively inexpensive model, like the Forerunner 15, would make an excellent gift for a runner who doesn’t yet own a GPS watch – but if your budget’s flexible, then a more full-featured model like the Forerunner 230 (pictured above) or 235 would make a truly special gift for a runner.
3) Daniels’ Running Formula
Coach Jack Daniels (no relation to the whiskey!) is an extremely well-respected running coach and exercise physiologist – and many world-class professional runners have improved their performance thanks to the principles he presents in this book.
But Daniels’ Running Formula would make an especially great gift for relatively new runners – who have the most to gain from the training information and programs contained in the book.
(Plenty of experienced runners could benefit from this classic as well, of course – but there’s a good chance it’s already on their bookshelf!)
4) Thirty48 Running Socks for Men and Women
Remember what we said about running apparel being a great gift for runners – but a difficult one to get right? Well, if you want to get them running clothes that they’re sure to use, but you don’t know where to start – then a good pair of specially designed running socks might be your best bet!
Thirty48 running socks are quite popular, for doing everything a runner needs – wicking sweat, providing cushioning, and simply being comfortable on the feet!
5) District Vision Sunglasses
Any good pair of sunglasses makes an excellent gift for runners who spend many hours out on those sunny roads and trails – and a pair from District Vision’s range of runner-oriented sunglasses makes a particularly great choice!
6) Cold Weather Running Gear
Some runners just won’t be stopped by snow and freezing temperatures! Runners who live in chilly climes can never have enough cold weather running gear – and since Christmas falls right in the middle of winter, you can be sure that your gift will be put to good use right away!
Here are just a few recommended items:
– ASICS Storm Shelter Jacket (for women / for men)
– Mizuno Breath Thermo Hoody Jacket (for women / for men)
– Trailheads Touchscreen Running Gloves
– Trailheads Convertible Running Gloves/Mittens (for women / for men)
7) SmarterLife Running Headlamp
What about those runners who hit the roads at night… or before dawn? Help keep them safe with a bright – yet lightweight – LED running headlamp!
8) Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes
Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes isn’t just a regular “healthy” cookbook. It was co-authored by chef Elyse Kopecky and the famous runner Shalane Flanagan – Olympic 10000m medalist, 2017 NYC Marathon winner, and multiple American record holder – and the recipes are especially geared towards runners’ unique and varied nutritional needs: energy boosts, recovery from tough workouts, etc.
Eating well is essential to running performance – and this book makes a perfect gift for any runner who loves to cook!
9) PR SOLES Running Recovery Flip-Flops (for Men and Women)
Nutrition is one essential factor in a runner’s recovery – and these specially designed flip-flops for runners supposedly help too! We haven’t tested them ourselves – but as runners, we’d love to be gifted a pair to try them out!
Most runners want a convenient way to carry their phone, keys, money, etc., while out on a run – but don’t want to wear a big dorky fanny pack. The solution? The innovative Flipbelt – a stretchy lycra pocket-belt that can be flipped around to comfortably hold all those little items snug against the runner’s body!
11) Foam Roller
We mentioned “The Stick” above, but a standard foam roller is another great self-massage tool for injury prevention – which makes it a great gift for any runner who’s always complaining about those nagging aches and pains!
12) Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
Born to Run is one of the most fascinating running books out there. It focuses, in particular, on the fascinating Tarahumara tribe of Mexico’s Copper Canyon – a tribe with ancient traditions of extremely long-distance running, and whose members seem to have superhuman running talent.
Weaved into the wonderful story of Tarahumara is the author’s own personal running journey – with everything combining together to create a book that can inspire any runner!
13) Sterling Silver Stick Figure Runner Necklace
Looking for cute running gifts for her? Whether it’s for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or her birthday, you can’t go wrong with a unique piece of jewelry made specially for women who run – and this sterling silver stick figure runner necklace certainly would look great with her race medals!
No cheesy “inspirational” slogans, no frills – just a runner doing what she loves!
14) Customized Race Bib and Medal Display
While there are several different ones out there, this model is particularly suitable for gift-giving – because it can actually be customized with your own personal message for the special runner!
15) Believe Training Journal
Every runner needs a training log to record their runs – it’s the only way for a runner to track their improvement. We’ll admit that we still use an old-school Excel spreadsheet – but a much more inspiring option is the “Believe Training Journal”.
This is not just any training journal – it was designed especially for runner women and girls by professional runners Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan, and includes plenty of useful training tips in addition to the running log!
16) Road iD
The Road iD is a personalized bracelet containing the wearer’s name, emergency contact info, etc. – they’ll never again have to be without ID (or carry an ID card with them) on a run.
Give them the gift of safety and peace of mind! (Yours and theirs!)
17) Running with the Buffaloes
Another classic of running literature, Running with the Buffaloes follows the University of Colorado Buffaloes men’s cross-country team through a dramatic season – and makes an especially great Christmas stocking stuffer for high-school runners with dreams of following in the footsteps of America’s collegiate running greats!
18) Buff Headgear
The Buff is a unique piece of multifunctional headgear that can be worn 12 different ways. It’s great for protecting a runner’s head from the cold during winter running – but can also be used as a headband, hair tie, and more during the summer!
19) “You Got This” Bracelet
An inspirational gift for a woman or girl who runs – every look at this encouraging bracelet will succinctly remind her that she’s got what it takes to achieve her dreams!
20) Lore of Running
One of our favorite running books – and a must for any true running geek who is fascinated by the science of exercise physiology. Dr. Timothy Noakes, the author of this huge book (almost 1000 pages), is a renowned expert in exercise and sport science (and, of course, a long-time runner himself). Lore of Running takes an in-depth look at running from a scientific perspective – and is an extremely interesting read for new and experienced runners alike.
21) Amphipod Hydraform Ergo-Lite Ultra Running Bottle
These aren’t just regular water bottles – Amphipod’s water bottles are ergonomically designed to be comfortably carried by runners on long runs. Each bottle also includes a zipper pouch for carrying phones, keys, money, whatever!
Bonus: Christmas Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas for Runners!
Okay, you’ve bought them a great gift – now you just need to fill that stocking with runner-friendly items! Here are some ideas:
- A box of GU: What? Goo? No, GU! Every marathoner (and ultramarathoner!) knows the importance of replenishing nutrients on-the-run during those long 2-3 hour training runs and races. And one of the most popular ways to do so is with GU – little packets of flavored energy gel that are easy to open and consume while running. Don’t get GU for a 5K or 10K runner – but any runner who runs looooong and far will appreciate the nutrient boost on his or her next 2+ hour run!
- Reflective running armbands: A set of reflective running armbands would be a highly useful Christmas stocking stuffer for anyone who runs at night!
- Bodyglide: For any runner who has problems with chafing! (And who doesn’t?!)
- Moleskin: For any runner who has problems with blisters!
Okay, we hope you’ve found the perfect gifts for the runners in your life – be sure to check out all our other lists to find great gift ideas for everyone else on your list!