As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to compile a list of my favorite running gear to share with you as gift suggestions for that special runner in your life.
1. FUEL/HYDRATION VEST: For long runs, half-marathons, and marathons, using a hydration vest is the most comfortable way to carry hydration, fuel, phone, keys, and whatever else a runner needs. I ditched my hydration belt years ago and love my fuel vest. My pick for readers is the Ultraspire Alpha 4.0 Race Vest. It is extremely breathable, lightweight, and does not bounce. You barely know it’s on. It also has multiple pockets with both zippered and pull-cord closures and is equipped to hold a 2-liter water bladder. Ultraspire.com, $119.95.
2. LIGHTWEIGHT RAIN/WIND RUNNING JACKET: At the beginning of 2019, I invested in a high-quality running rain jacket. It was the best purchase I made all year. My pick for readers is the Smartwool Merino Sport Ultra Light Hoodie jacket, which protected me from rain, wind, sleet, and light snow. It’s breathable, with cinched sleeves, chest pocket, and a hood. The fact that it folds up into the size of a glove means it is packable on the go. This jacket saved me during the worst weather conditions during the Philadelphia Marathon this year. Smartwool.com, $120.
3. FOAM ROLLER/HAND-HELD ROLLER: No runner’s arsenal is complete without a foam roller. Nowadays there are so many types to choose from, like heated rollers, vibrating rollers, and deep-tissue rollers. My pick for readers is a small 12-inch roller, which I personally own, and comes with a “grid” removable wrap on it. My new favorite is the Pro-Tec RM Extreme Roller Massager. The hand-held option is easy to pack in a suitcase for your destination races and easy to use on your calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quads. Pro-tecathletics.com, $32.
4. RUNNING GLOVES: During the cold weather, every runner should have a good quality pair of running gloves. My pick for readers is the Nike Therma-FIT Elite Gloves. Running gloves can get pricey, but these are under $25. Another option is the Fleet Feet “toss away” logo gloves for $4; they get the job done just as well, but don’t contain the smartphone touchscreen padded fingers that the more expensive Nike gloves have. Nike.com, $25; Fleetfeet.com, $4.
5. ARM WARMER/SLEEVES: Arm sleeves offer protection from the cold and can easily be removed and stashed in a pocket once you’ve warmed up on your run. I have several pairs of arm sleeves, but my favorite are from One More Mile. They continue to fit well after many washes, have no uncomfortable seams, and can be ordered with or without a fun saying, like “26.2 miles felt like a good idea at some point.” Onemoremile.net, $18.
6. RUNNING WATCH: Out of all my running gear, next to my sneakers, my watch is my most valuable and most used piece of equipment. My pick for readers is the Garmin Forerunner® 235, which gives you your pace, miles, overall time, heart rate, and even text alerts. It can be connected to the Garmin app and allows you to keep track of weekly and monthly miles. The 235, which I use, not only tracks running, but also biking and swimming miles (good for the triathlete) and even indoor running if you’re on a treadmill. When fully charged, it can be used for well over 15 hours in GPS mode. Newer models of the Forerunner hold up to 500 songs, eliminating the need for your phone as a music source. Garmin.com, $200.
7. RUNNING BOOKS: I continually seek motivation from professional athlete biographies and memoirs. There is so much knowledge and advice to learn from the pro or non-elite runner, each with their own incredible story to be shared. My top three suggestions include Bill Rogers’ Marathon Man, Deena Kastor’s Let Your Mind Run, and Meb Keflezghi’s 26 Marathons. An easy gift for the runner in your life—and who knows, you might enjoy reading the book with them. Marathon Man, $12.59; Let Your Mind Run, $10.99; 26 Marathons, $16.99.
8. STOCKING STUFFERS: Filling up a stocking for your runner can be quite easy. Start with Body Glide, a must-have for all runners. Conveniently, in a stick form, you simply rub it on any area that might be prone to chafing or blisters. Socks are a runner’s dream gift. Unlike when you were a child and getting socks meant you weren’t getting another toy, running socks are a joy—and runners ALWAYS need them. My favorites are Feetures socks with the no-show tab and light cushioning. They come in great color choices, protect from blisters, don’t have any uncomfortable seams, and keep their comfort level even after multiple washes. Body Glide, $10; Feetures.com, $15.99
Great gear brings joy to a runner all year round, and with these suggestions, you can bring a little holiday cheer to the runner in your life, keeping them motivated through the winter months.
Happy Holidays! Happy running!