The best running gifts aren’t always what our friends and family assume. While we do love a good GPS watch, sometimes the things that we’re jonesing for just feel like too much to spend on ourselves on a regular basis…even if they aren’t really that expensive!
Since many of you often ask me what new runners really want, I thought I’d share some of the super fancy gizmos we love alongside the surprisingly CHEAP and easy gifts that will have us leaping in to your arms with a big sloppy kiss.
Best Gifts for Runners
Let’s kick if off with the first surprising item…running socks! Seriously, read on to find out why and which ones.
While this might be targeted at new runners, the truth is these are all the basics that a lot of us need. I know because every time I poll my IG audience for what running gifts would make their day, these are the items repeated over and over.
Click any of the titles below for a link to a product, I’ve tried to think through both the high end gifts we wouldn’t buy ourselves and the littler items that still mean so much. I know your runner (eh hem you) will love these running gifts!
Balega Running Socks – ($14)
That’s right we want socks. Good socks. No chafing, no weird seems, keep our feet dry and comfy socks. More expensive than the packs you can buy at Target, but one of the few investments that runners quickly learn is worth every single penny.
If you have a new runner to buy for this might be something they haven’t treated themselves to yet and you’ll be changing their lives.
And for the trail runners, you seriously CANNOT beat the Swiftwick National Parks socks! The designs are incredible and the slightly higher sock means less dirt in our shoes. I can safely say bikers love them, as David stole mine the moment they arrived.
Garmin Fenix 6s – ($649)
Ok maybe no surprise that we want a GPS watch to track all our shenanigans, but what might surprise you is that TONS of runners would be just find with the basic Garmin 145 ($140) for tracking miles/HR and they don’t even want or know what to do with all the crazy features on the more advanced watches.
What’s the big deal with the high end model?
- the S version is smaller and looks nicer for women, especially the coveted rose gold
- Color GPS maps, just like while you’re driving
- Music, incoming messages, credit card payment
- Serious battery life
- Tons of multisport options
- Basically can track every bit of your lifestyle
Cotton Gloves – ($11)
It’s true we’d give you a sideways look for buying a cotton running shirt now, but these cheap little gloves are lifesavers on race day! They allow us to get to the start line feeling toasty, then rip them off as needed to toss in the donation pile without guilt.
Of course you could also double up and get them both the cheap throw away gloves along side a nice pair of running gloves.
Yes, dry fit running gloves are a coveted item! You have no idea how much they can improve our winter runs!
Winter Running Gear
Speaking of winter, this is another item that tops the I WANT IT list for runners!
- A great running jacket can make any temp or weather more bearable. They are investment pieces that will LAST many years.
- Winter running tights make those early morning temps not so bad, but we hate to splurge on winter specific tights even if we need them!
- Buff Neck Warmer – who ever thought that runners would beat the mask game by simply coming up with a piece of tech gear that makes our winter runs more enjoyable! We’re achieving 2 things at once.
How to carry water is an age old discussion among runners. And a hydration vest TOPS THE LIST when I ask what people want, but hate to buy for themselves!
We’ve mastered the art of locating water fountains or stashing water bottles, but nearly everyone I know who has finally caved to try a hydration vest simply can’t go without it now.
- Ensures easy hydration
- Pockets for carrying phones, tissues, tucking away the too many layers we wore
- Having extra food for trail runs or long runs
I like this particular model because it’s snug to the body and the pocket placement makes it easy to grab my phone for those must have Instagram moments.
Body Glide – ($17-$44)
Another small but non-trivial item we need to have in spades. We need one in the car, one in our bag, one in our luggage, really we need them everywhere to ensure there’s no chance we miss out on lubing up to avoid the dreaded rub.
If you’re buying for a male runner, surprise them with nipple guards too. It’s not only funny to watch them open, but extremely practical as it’s a very common and painful issue for men running with a shirt.
Running Shoes – ($120-$190)
Running is overall a pretty cheap sport compared to the gear needed for say skiing. We don’t need helmets or pads or clips or claps or clops…but our shoes, well they have gone up in price and to be honest we need multiple pairs (yes read about shoe rotation).
So if you sneak in to our closets and find a pair that looks well worn, chances are we’ll just flip if a new pair shoes up under the Christmas Tree. This year I actually declared a best shoe of 2018, which I will work for more runners than I’ve seen with previous shoes.
I’m also a huge fan of the Saucony Kinvara for those who like a lighter shoe with a little cushion, the Hoka Clifton for those who want a lot of cushion, the Saucony Perigrien for those looking to enjoy trail running.
Honestly, there are a lot to chose from so if you can’t find one, then get a gift certificate to a LOCAL running store. We’ll have the added fun of talking running when we go in to pick out our brand new neon pair.
Audible Membership ($15-$150)
Turns out that not only do runners love to read about running, but we’ve learned that a great audiobook is a fun way to pass the miles! Especially right now when we might be putting in a few more solo miles, this is a gift that’s going to keep on giving and giving!
Compression Pants ($70-150)
While they may not be the most flattering pair of tights we’ll ever tug on, they are one of the most beneficial.
- The CW-X stabilyx linked here are my top recommendation because they help with IT Band pain, knee support during long runs and calf cramps
- However, for the runner who ONLY wants to wear them after a run I recommend the much thinner 2XU compression tights. I will also wear these to run in hotter temps, but love them for lounging or sleeping in after a really long run.
- Trust me, their happy legs, will mean a much happier you.
Not sure what the heck these even are, go read about compression gear here.
Apera Locker Pack – ($109)
It’s not just that we need to schlep our gear around somehow, it’s that especially when we travel we want to carry on all our race gear to ensure no mishaps!
- place specifically for shoes
- space for our sweaty gear
I’ve had my Apera back pack for years now and the quality is outstanding, as well as the fact that it never smells, I can set it any gym and know those little anti-microbial threads are going to work keeping it clean so I don’t track anything home.
Looking to spend a little less, this one may not have some of the whistles like anti-bacterial, but it’s go all the compartments we need for just $25!
Bonus Gifts for a Runner
These aren’t things you can always put under the tree, but under normal circumstances are highly appreciated.
Race Entry – ($40-$200)
You got it, we’d love to have some of our race entries covered! Not only are you saying that our crazy choices are acceptable, but you’re helping us to set some goals with that money on the line!
Triple extra bonus points if you also agree to come cheer us on and make a big fat crazy race sign with our name on it. It sounds silly, but at mile 14 when you’re brain is questioning everything about why you’ve signed up there’s a massive mental and emotional boost (better than any gel) from seeing you on the sidelines.
Baby Sitting Services ($20-$200)
One of the gifts that I know has meant so much to many of my friends is someone thinking ahead for childcare!
They’re dying for that Sunday morning time to run, but can’t always make that work without a little bit of help. Maybe you pre-pay for 10 weeks of Sunday childcare leading up to their next big race or even just volunteer to help out once a month, I guarantee they’ll be extremely appreciative.
We’re doing more workouts at home and sometimes need a great guide to get us going. This subscription service can be tried FREE for 30 days, that way you aren’t paying if they don’t love it.
But from this one platform which you can use on the TV or tablet:
- Yoga classes
- Strength workouts
- Dance classes
- Really a huge variety to keep them motivated year round
More great gift ideas?
Still not seeing exactly what you had in mind? Checkout these other runner gift guides:
Do you leave gift hints for others?
How do you pick out the perfect gift?
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This post does contain affiliate links, as always I don’t know what you buy, it costs you nothing extra, but throws a few pennies to RTTF.