A: First of all, the chance to discuss my two favorite things, running and shopping, in one blog post, is such a treat! Second of all, you’re probably right- a runner doesn’t need much in the way of gear. That’s part of the appeal of the sport.
I’m a minimalist myself, when it comes to running gear. I only use my Garmin when I’m doing a tempo run, I never bring my phone with me on a run (though I probably should, given my horrible sense of direction), I use a rolling pin instead of a massage stick, and I sit on tennis balls instead of fancy massage balls.
I wrote this gift guide in the spirit of striving NOT to clutter your loved one’s life with unnecessary gadgetry or gear. Also, I received nothing from any of the companies or products I mention here. I just like them.
1) A gift certificate for a sports massage. ($60-$85) If your runner already gets regular or semi-regular massages with a specific massage therapist, your job is so easy, it’s ridiculous. Just call that person or go on their website and purchase a gift certificate. If your runner doesn’t have a massage therapist already, the best way to find a good one is through word of mouth. And when you call to order the gift certificate, don’t say, “I heard you’re an amazing masseuse.” The proper terminology is massage therapist. A masseuse is not licensed and may offer services that a massage therapist won’t. I won’t elaborate on that, just use your imagination.
2) A basket filled with your runner’s favorite gels, sports drinks, and recovery drinks ($20-$100, depending how big of a basket you want to fill). Mine would have Nuun tablets for my sport bottle, Powergels to bring in my Fuel Belt and Skoop protein powder for my post-run smoothie.
3) Compression Socks or Calf Sleeves. ($40-$60). I know I said I didn’t want to fill your runner’s life with unwanted clutter or unnecessary gear but these a) don’t take up a lot of space and b) are amazing. They are meant to support your muscles during runs and to speed recovery afterward. I like my boring black ones, but they have the potential to be fabulous fashion statement… lavender with green stars, anyone?
4) Road ID. (Starts at $20. Different types are available) If you really love your runner, you want them to be safe while they’re out on the road. Road ID didn’t endorse this in any way, I just think it’s a great product. Anyone whose loved one has a poor sense of direction or is accident-prone really should consider this one… Um, Dan… why do I not own one of these?
5) Sweaty Bands. ($15-$18) Note: This one only applies to the long haired runner in your life. This is nothing short of the best headband ever invented. Fun print on the top + velvet on the bottom = a gorgeous headband that will not slip and slide around your head, leaving your wispies to their own devices. If this headband will not tame your stray hairs and earn you compliments at the same time, I don’t know what will. The only problem is there are so many cute ones, it’s hard to pick just one (or two or three or four). Sweaty Bands did not offer me anything, I just really love this product.
6) A Foam Roller. (18.95). An especially good gift for the athlete who doesn’t like to be touched (see #1) or the gift giver on a budget. This thing looks innocuous but it can reach sore or tender muscles in a way that makes you want to beg for your mommy. I used to foam roll religiously at swanky gym where I belonged back in the old days (aka before I had kids and I had time to travel to and from the gym and to enjoy the amenities it offered, such as fluffy, clean towels, a hot tub, amazing yoga classes, close proximity to my favorite coffee shop… sigh). The problem was, I made these horribly ugly grimace-y type faces while using this torture device. (A note to the moms- if anyone snapped a pic of you while you were in labor, you know facial expression of which I speak.) It was stressful, trying to get the most out of my foam rolling sessions AND avoid making eye contact with anyone at the gym. Then I got a foam roller and my life changed. I could work out the knots in my muscles and be as ugly as I wanted to be in the privacy of my own home while watching a Grey’s Anatomy episode I had DVR’ed. Score.