Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 333 - Gifts for the Runner

If there's a runner on your gift list this holiday season, consider yourself lucky.

Not only are you close to someone who is an above average person, and probably pretty hot lookin', but you also have easy-pickin's for presents. Let's take a look at what's out there, shall we?

Oh, wait... disclaimer.... I don't get anything from any of these products or manufacturers. Honest. I just dig what they sell. I use all f them, or variants of them, myself, except for RoadID. Ok, let's shop...

$$$$$ Huge Ticket:

The ultimate big ticket gift for a runner is a guilt free, all (or some) expense-paid trip to the race of their choice.* But, even popping for an airline ticket, or just the race fee, is a great way to support and encourage your favorite runner.

Low Budget Alternative: Give your runner a coupon good for guilt-free permission and unwavering support to train for the race of their choice. I know a lot of runners with families who don't think they can train for a race because of the demands for time and attention it requires. Let them know it's cool, in fact it's awesome that they want to kick some butt in an upcoming race. Tell them you've got things covered, and you'll be there with a hug and some water at the finish line. You can even throw in some personal massages after those long training runs, if you're into that sort of thing.

$$$ Big Ticket:

A Garmin GPS running watch. Simple, but so mind-blowing for runners and the data freaks hidden inside them. Being able to step out the door, no matter where you are, and just run, free from sticking to known measured routes, opens up a whole new world to the GPS-enabled runner. And then, after the run, the untapped world of data analysis... Oh boy!

Too late alternative: If your runner already has a GPS watch, consider SportTracks 3.0, which is the $35 upgraded version of the best GPS data archive/training log I've ever seen. It's so good that I gave up my personal spreadsheet that I'd been using for 14 years. 14 years! It's like Linus giving up his blanket. That's how good it is.

Low budget Alternative: bronze membership. For $30 a year your runner can map and measure his/her runs without the insanely annoying ads that those of us too cheap to bump up from the free membership have to deal with.

Another Low Budget Alternative: If your runner has an iPhone or other smart phone that has GPS built in, consider a $20 RunKeeper Elite membership.This upgrade to the free app let's your runner broadcast his/her position during runs and races so you can keep tabs on them, and maybe even have the shower warmed up for them when they return from that wintery long run,with snot-cicles dangling from their nose.

$$ Medium Ticket:

Hands-down best running top for cold weather is the Brooks HVAC long-sleeve with half-zipper. The things have silver woven into the fabric which not only regulates your temperature, but also acts as a natural anti-microbial... that means the shirt won't stink. I've worn mine 3, even 4 days in a row when I've been traveling, and it still smells like new. And I'm a sweaty, sweaty runner. $65 is a steal for this product. It comes in black and blue. Black looks better, but it can get too warm if the sun's out. Go for blue.**

Low budget alternative: Balega socks. Best running socks on the planet. It's that simple. Best. Socks. Ever. And, they have a great story and mission. Their website explains it better than I can. Check it out. Best socks... EVER.

Very Low Budget Alternative: 8-feet of non-stretching nylon rope (I got my cut to size in the bulk rope and chain aisle at Lowes) and a link to Active Isolated Stretching videos on YouTube. AIS has saved my running career.

$ Media:

$ Stocking Stuffers:

  • BodyGlide -  Nothing ruins the holidays like chafing. This is the gift that keeps on giving, through lubrication.
  • RoadID - Tell your runner you care by making sure first responders will be able to identify the body easily.
  • Gu - keep your runner running!

See? Tons of stuff for your runner. These are just the things off the top of my head. Oh, a hat would be good, too. And gloves. Just make sure they're not too think, and that they're made of moisture (sweat) wicking material.

Personally, I'd shy away from jackets and pants and tights, and definitely shoes. They're expensive, and highly subject to personal taste and comfort. If you want to go that route, go with a gift card and let your runner pick their own.

One more thing... use the links above for reference, but please visit and support your local running store.*** You can find most, if not all, of the tangible items above, and lots more, in good stores. You might pay a couple dollars more than the cheapest online source, but what you'll get for that pittance is a wealth of knowledge and support and camaraderie that you just don't find at a big athletic store (*cough* *cough* Dick's *cough*), or worse, a website.

If you have any other/better ideas, comment section below is open as always.

Good running,

*For those looking to gift this runner, I'd like to go back to New York for the marathon, so let's see... entry, air, hotel, meals, couple shows, NYCM jacket, post-race tequila shots ... $3,000 should cover it.

**I'll take a medium.

***If you're anywhere near me, I recommend highly the world's best running store, The Runners Forum at 116th and Keystone in Carmel, IN.

Numbers: 2.0 miles around the business park