Thursday, December 18, 2014

List of gift ideas for runners for real people (you know, those on a budget)

This is a gift-giving guide for the rest of us. Yeah, those of us who can't spend $450 for an awesome GPS watch that also makes coffee in the morning and folds laundry on Saturdays.

Lovely idea, but just not realistic for most of us. What's a chica or chico to do for the runner in her or his life? Here are some ideas:

1. One of the easiest is a gift certificate from the local running store, of course. But it doesn't have to be a significant investment if you can't afford it. Your runner will love any denomination and the excuse to browse the whole store and touch every new shoe, running jacket and sock in the place. Most stores have smaller items like the prerequisite 5K, 13.1 mile and 26.2 mile stickers for the car in addition to the high-tech gizmos of the season.

2. Did your runner have a recent race? Check the race's homepage for information on race photos, which can be bought online and shipped directly to your runner. Many race photographers tag your runner's photos by his or her bib number. If you don't know their number, try the race website again; most will list race results by name and bib number. Yes, us runners are a little self absorbed and would love a picture of ourselves crossing the finish line in a tutu or Superman costume. A nice frame would be frosting on the gift cake.

3. Show interest in your runner's sport. You don't have to run to show support. Join your runner on a long walk on a rest day or show up at a race to cheer him or her on. I know you're already spending an inordinate amount of time listening to him or her go on and on (and on and on) about their training. Go see them in their habitat and make them feel special in the process.

4. Build a song list for their next race. Doing so takes tons of time and he or she will appreciate getting a head start. You can buy the songs for them, give them a gift card toward music purchases or even create a Pandora station for him or her and hand over the log-in information. 

5. Contribute toward a race fee or lodging at the next away race. If your runner likes to race, many a race will allow you to pay for all or part of the race fee. Some have gift certificates. A gift card to a hotel at their next destination would also be appropriate and welcome. 

6. Runners also love gear and clean, non-stinky technical shirts, so those are always good ideas if you know your runner's size. Places like Marshall's, T.J. Maxx and Target have great deals on good gear. I got a tech T-shirt with my running group's logo for my birthday and I can't wait to wear it when we travel to Florida over Christmas (did I mention it's in the 20s in Michigan at night?).

7. Give a subscription to a running magazine. Your runner will think warm thoughts about you every time an issue shoes up. I'm partial to Runner's World, which I relish.

8. Create a goody bag. It could be multiple samples of hydration tablets so they can try different flavors, or different types of protein bars or fuel (like Gu or SportBeans). Or create a pedicure set for your runner. We have notoriously gnarly feet. 

9. Put together a recipe book with healthy, runner friendly snacks and meals. Most running magazine websites have tons of resources. Better yet, cook a runner friendly meal for your runner. We're always "rungry", so this will be a huge hit.

10. Love and understanding, of course.

Mostly, just don't fret. Runners are a great bunch who'll appreciate that you thought of us. Especially if you continue to pretend to listen to us when we're talking about what ails us.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

What's the best running-related gift you've ever gotten? Given?  

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