Holiday Gifts for the Avid Runner

11/24/2017 - 10:39

By Lena Hollmann
As I write this, I am putting away my Halloween decorations and starting to focus on Christmas. And Thanksgiving of course - although the only things I look forward to then are a jam packed race and a sumptuous meal. For me, Christmas is the big one! Because then I get a chance to put presents under the tree, for friends and for myself.

In this column I will suggest some running related gifts that you may want to give or receive during the upcoming holiday season. I will look at four price ranges: Under $20, $20 - $100, $100 - $1,000, and over $1,000. I will give general recommendations only, and will not endorse any specific brands. (Although I do mention a couple of products by name). And I will give you my favorite in each price range.

It will probably be late November by the time you read this. Maybe you have started to think about holiday gifts, maybe not. Even if you don’t have anything in mind yet, you will probably discover that by the time you finish reading this column there are several things you didn’t even know that you wanted under your tree. Self massage tools for your feet and calves, for example. I asked some friends what they wanted, and several said foot massagers. I didn’t know I wanted one too, but now I surely do!

But let’s start with gifts that you can give yourself or others for under $20. In this price category, may I suggest a running book. There are several, but my favorite is “Browning Ross: The Father of American Distance Running” by Jack Heath, which came out earlier this fall. I may be a little biased here, because last year I had the honor of receiving the Browning Ross Spirit of the RRCA Award, from the RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) at their annual banquet. But it really is a great book. I already own a copy, and have read it. So I can say with confidence that this is a great choice!

As I mentioned earlier, there are many other running books that you can ask Santa to bring in case you already own this one. Or maybe you want to consider a running diary. The Jim Fixx Day-by-Day Running Log that I used in the 1970’s is still out there, believe it or not! Plus several others.

Another gift that usually runs under $20 are compression socks. A friend of mine, Rietta Couper of Chapel Hill, NC, is putting these on her wish list. Black ones for her, and several pairs! But if you are looking for a stocking stuffer for a friend, probably just one pair will do, in any color.

If the temperature goes below freezing where you live, check your supply of running gloves. You may need another pair. Or a running cap, or scarf. And if you run in the dark this time of year, how about a reflecting vest or other illuminating gadget?

If you have a little more to spend, up to $100, here are some other great gifts. For example my favorite, a hydration belt. You can get a good one for under $40. But I live in Florida and probably need this more than most of you. If you live in a colder climate, a nice running jacket may be a better choice. Or maybe a pair of tights.

Some self-massage tools also fall into this price range. Diane McManus who lives in the Philadelphia area suggested heat-up massage balls, which she finds at her local running store, the Bryn Mawr Running Company. They range from $25 to $40, depending on size. And if you don’t live near Philadelphia you can look for similar heat-up balls online.

Most race entries are also less than $100, especially for shorter races. So maybe you want to treat yourself to a favorite race or two. Or surprise your brother (or sister, or friend) by entering them into one of their favorite races! Just make sure they didn’t enter on their own already, and that they are fit and ready to run.

If I had between $100 and $1,000 to spend on a gift for myself, I could easily be persuaded to buy one of those massage tools my friends were raving about. One friend suggested the TheraSqueeze Foot and Calf Massager, which will cost you around $350. Although you can probably find similar but older products on eBay.

Also in this price range you can consider a new pair of running shoes, as most models cost more than $100 these days. Or how about the latest Garmin smartwatch? Or an exercise bike for cross training? Or an entry to one of the ‘Big Name’ marathons? As you can see, you have several choices if you want to splurge a little extra on yourself or a friend. However for the race entries you must usually also have luck on your side. There is often a lottery to get into the popular races. Or you have to sign up online just minutes after entries open in order to get in.

If I had $1,000 or more to spend on a gift (which would be for me if it cost that much!), I would go on a running cruise. I went on one almost seven years ago, to the Caribbean with a company named Cruise to Run. And I had a blast! The company is no longer in operation, but there are other companies that offer similar cruises. During my cruise we ran in the mornings on five different Islands, and had afternoons free to spend on excursions or just chilling out. It was wonderful to cruise with a group, where the organizers had scouted out areas to run on each island in advance. And I made several new friends during this trip. So I highly recommend making your vacation next year a running cruise!

An alternative though is to take a trip to a major race, maybe one you have never run, in a city you have never been. If the race is in another part of the country than where you live, or on a different continent, then travel and hotel costs plus entry fees could together add up to a four figure number. But maybe you have friends to stay with, in which case you will save on lodging. Or, if you are attending the RRCA Annual Convention (which will be held in Washington, DC, next year) you will have the opportunity to bid on race entries which often come with lodging, at their Silent Auction.

Another big ticket item to ask Santa for would be a treadmill. I don’t have room for one in my house, but if you have sufficient space and money it may be a worthwhile investment. If you decide to get a treadmill, make sure you invest in a high quality one. It will be less likely to break and will save you money in the long run (no pun intended!).

So, do you find yourself with more running related items on your list now than when you started reading this column? Hopefully I have given you some fresh gift ideas for yourself and your friends. Now the only thing left to do is to go to the store or online and do some shopping. Plus going for a run of course!

Lena Hollmann is a certified personal trainer with American Council on Exercise (ACE). She lives and runs in Naples, FL, and can be reached at

This article appeared in the December issue or Running Journal.

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