Shopping for the runner on your gift list might seem like a difficult task, especially if you’re not a runner. The market is absolutely flooded with gadgets and gifts for every kind of runner.
However, you might be surprised to know that most runners are after functionality, not a specific gift. If you’re running a 5K, you might want a cute shirt and glowing bracelets. But if you’re training for a marathon, you stop caring about cute and start caring about surviving pretty quickly. As a runner myself, I know what I have always wanted on my gift list and I think the following list would be a good place to start if you really want to impress the runner in your life.
Gift Ideas for Runners
Here is a short list of all the gift ideas for runners that we’ve gathered here in this article. Scroll down or click on the link to see more information, pricing and also links to popular ecommerce websites so you can order your gifts right away.
- Running Belts
- Running Gels
- Stay Dry Clothing
- Running watches
- Gloves and Hats
- Novelty Clothing
- Gift Cards
- Audible Subscription
Gift Ideas for Runners #1: Running Belt
The godsend for every runner is a running belt. A running belt is a sleek storage belt that carries everything from your running gels to your water bottles. Most of them will even carry your cell phone and keys. They snap around your waist a bit like a Fanny pack, but their flatter so you don’t wind up with a lot of drag.
If the runner in your life doesn’t already have a running belt, this is a great gift to start out with, and they will thank you forever. Among the gifts for marathon runners, a running belt that holds two to four small water bottles is ideal because many marathon runners carry both regular water and an electrolyte drink some kind along the course. Having a pocket for an ID card, a single key, and maybe an iPod or a phone is an added bonus.
Gift Ideas for Runners #2: Running Gels
Running gels are absolutely essential when you’re out on the course.
For marathon runners, having fuel along the way is absolutely essential to success. It’s not very efficient to carry food with you on the course, the running gels were created as a way to provide condensed amounts of energy to runners as the running along. They’re quick and easy to eat or consuming, so you don’t have to stop along the side of the road in order to get the fuel you need.
There are many different kinds of running gels ranging from actual gel to gel-like chews. I personally love Clif brand, however, I also enjoy Gu. Clif Shot Blocks come in packages that look like long blocks. Runners can easily squeeze out a block of time, she would swallow it without much trouble, and keep on going. There are also a lot less messy than the Gu packets. I especially like the margarita flavored ones because they provide sodium, which is an electrolyte, and not something runners really need once you get towards the end of the marathon. It might seem like a strange gift, but if you give a runner running gels, they will love you forever.
Here are some of my favorite gels:
- Clif Shot Blocks – In addition to the Margarita flavor, Mountain Berry is particularly delicious. It’s not too sweet, so it’s less likely to cause stomach issues than some of the other flavors.
- GU Gel – These little packets are ideal for sucking down some fuel, quite literally. They’re a bit messy because you have to tear the top off and you can’t reseal them, but most runners just toss them on the ground or in the trash at the next aid station anyway.
- GU Chomps – I love these because they have the scientifically proven power of GU without the mess of the gel packets.
Gift Ideas for Runners #3: Stay Dry Clothing
Nothing is worse than getting five to six miles into a run and finding out that you’re covered in sweat. It’s really uncomfortable to run like that, and it causes some health problems, as well. If your clothes get really sweaty and wet, you can start chafing and wind up with some serious skin problems.
That’s why so many runners love the technical fabric that whisks moisture away from the skin and into the actual fabric without any residual moisture. There are many brands of stay dry clothing, and most of them do the job pretty effectively.
Nike produced moisture wicking clothing and socks that are pretty decent and reasonably affordable. Asics also has a decent line of technical running clothes. (Click on the pictures to see pricing.)
Never forget to buy the runner on your list some extra socks. Make sure they’re thin, designed to whisk moisture away from the skin, and aren’t too high on the leg. As a runner, I can tell you we go through socks faster than almost anything else, so we always appreciate getting more.
Gift Ideas for Runners #4: Running Watches
Another great gift idea for runners, although a bit more expensive than the others on this list, running watches.
These watches provide runners with important information that they can obtain with a simple glance. From mile time to temperature, overall pace to heart rate, these watches tell a runner everything they need to know without forcing them to stop and hunt for the information.
It’s probably a good idea to consult with a runner on your list if you’re going to purchase a running watch for them unless you already know the brand that they want. There’s a vast range of options available, and every runner is particular about what they like and what they find to be essential while on the course.
I personally like a scaled-down model that just gives me my basic information: pace, time, calories burned, and distance covered. I love the Nike range of running watches – see list and prices on Amazon – because they cater to my desire for a simple device that gives me basic information. The Nike+ apps are great, as well, so if your runner loves Nike shoes but doesn’t already have the sensor, that’s a great gift idea, as well. However, some runners want significantly more information and get far more technical with their running.
These running watch models are a great starting point for runners who just want the basics:
- Garmin 010-N1039-01 Forerunner GPS Watch
- TomTom Runner GPS Running Watch
- Polar M400 GPS Smart Sports Watch
Gift Ideas for Runners #5: Gloves and Hats
You might not think a runner would need gloves, but most of us get up pretty early or stay out late in order to complete our training miles. Additionally, most races start early in the morning when it’s quite cold.
Being able to throw on a pair of running gloves is helpful because it’s a lot easier to hold and use your water bottles, watches, and gels if you can actually feel your hands. Having a hat is nice for runners who often have to run in the cold because it helps trap heat that would otherwise escape from the top of the head. If your runner is more of a beach or desert runner, a visor can help shield them from the sun and protect their skin.
Gift Ideas for Runners #6: Novelty Clothing
It’s not all about form and function; don’t forget to throw in some fun gifts for runners, too! I have a few shirts that I love to wear purely because they’re fun. One of them is a running tank that says “I run so I can eat cupcakes”, and the other is a technical shirt that says “This IS my race pace.”It’s also a fun idea to give the runner in your life some fan gear. Whether they’re a Disney addict, a fan of Star Wars, or can’t get enough of a certain singer or celebrity, there’s a running shirt available for them.
Gift Ideas for Runners #7: Gift Cards
Running is expensive. Not only do you have to pay for all the gear, but you have to pay a fee to run in the actual races, as well. For marathoners and ultra runners, those registration fees can range into the hundreds of dollars.
Giving your runner a gift card that works like cash (such as a Visa or MasterCard gift card) can help them sign up for more races without having to stretch their budget. You should also check out Active.com, a popular site where runners can shop and register for races. Active offers gift cards and other gift options that help runners afford races, a gift that any runner would greatly appreciate.
Gift Ideas for Runners #8: Audible Subscription
This is a unique gift for runners, and not all runners will use it, but listening to audio books can help a long race go faster. Once you get past ten miles it doesn’t matter how beautiful the scenery is or how great your run is going, you’re starting to feel it both mentally and physically. Keeping your mind engaged is important if you’re going to make it through a marathon course, so listening to a story can help take your mind off the pain and keep you mentally checked in for the remainder of the race. An Audible subscription is a great way to help the runner in your life make it through the boredom and get to the finish line.
These are just a few of the many gifts that your runner would love. It’s hard to keep up with all the gear, fuel, and necessities as a runner, so whenever someone gives us these important items as gifts we love it. If you’re still not sure where to start, visit your local running store and ask them for advice. Most of the people who work there are extremely knowledgeable about running and can help you narrow down your options.