We all have people in our lives who are difficult to shop for, but if you are in need of a last-minute gift for a runner in your life, don't fret. There are myriad ways to give a gift to someone who has a passion for running, including those gifts that can't be wrapped up or put in a stocking.
Start with the Basics
There is no end to running gear available in stores and online. If you know someone who is serious about running, chances are they are serious about the gear they use while running, too. Here are a few ideas from local runner Celia Johnson that are likely to please any runner, whether they are avid 5K racers or marathoners.
FlipBelt -- For years I have looked for a running apparatus to easily hold keys, money, transit card and phone. I finally found it in the FlipBelt, a snug band that fits around your waist. It's comfortable to wear without being bulky, and it doesn't shift while you're running. The FlipBelt also includes a small clip inside to secure keys. The FlipBelt can be found in stores at Fleet Feet Sports or online for $28.99.
Base Layer -- Running in cold weather an be a challenge, but it doesn't have to be if you have the right gear. My favorite base layer right now is the GapFit long-sleeve Moto Top. The fabric is incredibly soft, and the shirt is nice and long for layering. This piece also includes thumb loops, which is a welcome addition for chilly hands. You can find a base layer from Gap in stores or online for $44.95.
Race Medal Hanger -- There is a special thrill runners get when receiving a medal after a race, even though for most of us it's a medal for participation, not for winning. Either way, medal hangers are a fun and creative way for runners to show off their stuff. You can buy a running-themed medal hanger online at Amazon for $47.99.
Nike Flash Jacket -- Many runners work regular day-time hours, so weekly outdoor workouts usually end up being completed in the dark, especially in the winter. In addition to worrying about the cold, these runners also need to worry about their own visibility. To keep them safe, consider buying a Nike Flash jacket, which comes with a detachable hood and a highly reflective exterior with water-resistant fabric. Find the jacket at Nike in stores or online.
Think Outside the Box
If you are low on time and funds, but still care about a runner in your life, there are several gifts you can give that don't require credit cards, shopping bags or shipping fees. For many, running is a holistic sport. It's about more than just physical endurance and flashy gear. To appeal to the spiritual and emotional side of running, consider these unique gift ideas from local runner Chris Narbone.
Time -- Time is always a challenge for busy runners or endurance athletes. Runners with kids or odd job hours often have to squeeze in their runs whenever an opportunity presents itself, whether it's early in the morning, during lunch hour or late at night. To give the gift of time to a runner, offer to babysit for free for a couple of hours on the weekends or give them a hand completing household chores or errands that could be taking up precious running time.
Support -- At times, running can be a lonely sport. To give a runner the gift of support, simply ask them how their training is going and let them talk about what they are excited or anxious about. Showing interest is so simple, but it goes a long way in a sport where participants' biggest competition is often themselves.
Trainig Advice -- If you've heard your runner complaining about a certain ailment or wondering aloud about the proper nutrition or gear, do a little poking around and see if you can get an answer from a running expert. It may be a long shot, which is why runners don't often consider doing this themselves, but imagine the look on their faces if they receive an email from Hal Higdon or Jeff Galloway with running advice. This is a gift that has the potential to keep on giving as it might also give the receiver the running motivation they need to get through the long winter.
Chris Narbone is a local runner who curates Amplify Running, a blog about gear and technology for running.