A Chicago Marathoner’s Gift Guide

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While running may not require as much equipment as some sports, like hockey or football, there are plenty of gadgets and gifts guaranteed to make a runner’s eyes light up this holiday season. If there’s a marathoner in your life (or if you’re the marathoner looking for gift ideas), take a look at our holiday gift guide tailor-made for serious Chicago runners.

Marathon Race Entry

Marathons aren’t cheap. While there are plenty of affordable options in the area, big-ticket races, such as the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, cost close to $200 -- assuming you make it through the lottery, of course. You can’t run a marathon without a marathon entry, and putting down that kind of cash -- or having someone put down that cash for you as a gift -- makes committing to the event easier.

Two Pairs of Running Shoes

The average running shoe lasts 300 to 500 miles, depending on brand and personal style of running. Runners often need to replace their shoes during the marathon training cycle, and it’s usually best to stay in the same brand and model all season. Avoid the panic brought on by a mid-year model change by purchasing two identical pairs to start. Many runners have very specific preferences in shoes, so consider a gift card to a local running store if you’re unsure what model he or she wears.

Marathon Training

Sure, you can train for a marathon on your own, but with so many amazing training programs available in the area, why not join forces with some like-minded people for 4.5 months and knock out your weekly long runs with them? Local training programs targeting specific marathons offer a variety of amenities throughout the season that stretch far beyond Saturday or Sunday mornings, including seminars, discounts and occasionally space exclusively for program participants near the start line of the race. Whether your loved one is a novice or Boston-bound, there’s a space for him or her in a local marathon training program.


Walk into any local running store and you’ll find a wall of easy-to-consume carbohydrates: Gu, Clif Shot, Honey Stingers, Shot Bloks, Chomps and more. As a runner’s mileage increases, so does his or her need to take in fuel on the run to avoid hitting the wall. These make excellent stocking stuffers. Just make sure you know your runner’s favorite brands and flavors.

Cross Training

While running itself is obviously the bread and butter of a marathon training cycle, giving your body a break can help prevent injury and mental burnout. Consider gifting a membership to a yoga or Pilates studio to your marathoner, so he or she can incorporate some gentle movement and strength training into the marathon season.


Sometimes after a long run, a marathoner’s muscles need a little extra help returning to top form. A sports massage can help loosen up tightness and aid in recovery by improving circulation. Sports massages differ from a “standard” relaxing massage but can yield benefits as part of a marathon training regimen.

Bethany Stripp is a local runner and the editor-in-chief of Chicago Athlete magazine.

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