I love this time of year because everyone and their dog publishes a runner’s or fitness-lover’s gift guide. One might think I’d get tired of seeing them all but I actually don’t because it’s a great time of year to get new gear ideas and read about all the amazing things I don’t have and might want to try in the coming year.
Having run for awhile now though, I’m pretty set in my ways and loyal to the basics that I know work best for me like shoes, electrolytes and nutrition. And besides, I don’t actually expect my parents or friends to go out and buy me big-ticket items like new shoes or a GPS watch for Christmas anyway (although wouldn’t that be nice?)
But what I DO hope my loved ones will stuff my stockings with are the little things. The less-exciting but oh-so-practical things that I always need and are essential to my running life. Maybe the runner on your Christmas list is more dazzled by flashy, high-tech gear but if they’re like me, this not-so-typical Practical Runner’s Gift Guide might be just what you need.
1. A Bag of Balls
Give your runner the ultimate self-massage and recovery arsenal by buying them an assortment of different sized, varying density sports balls such as golf balls, tennis balls, lacrosse balls and hockey balls. Buy a small mesh laundry bag to store them all in and trust me, your runner will know how to use them.
2. Tube Socks
This kind of goes along with item #1 but if the runner on your gift list races a lot, plain old tube socks can be pretty handy! They can be worn as throwaway gloves at the start of a race or the feet can be cut off to make throwaway arm warmers. Not only that, if they’re discarded at the start, often those items are donated to homeless shelters and charities where new, clean socks are always welcome. (Remember, I said this list was for a practical runner, not necessarily a fashionable one!)
3. How about a Donation?
Is the runner on your list planning to run for a charity in 2015? If so, I bet they’d really appreciate a donation made out to their charity in lieu of a gift this year. Fundraising can be a daunting task and having a shiny new donation to start off the fundraising year is a gift itself both for your runner and those he or she is trying to help.
4. Natural Peanut Butter
I love peanut butter both before running and in the rest of my life too. I’m doing some work with Adams Natural Peanut Butter right now and it got me to thinking what a great little stocking stuffer it would make! We don’t always spring for the higher-quality brands for ourselves so show your favourite runner you love them enough to share 100% natural PB with them. Crunchy or creamy they’re both delicious on everything.
5. Dry Shampoo
If the runner on your Christmas list is female, a small container of dry shampoo would be a nice idea. My hair is super long right now and with how busy I am between running and my family, I often have to go straight from a run to our next activity. I can ‘shower’ with wipes and deodorant and thankfully I discovered dry shampoo so I can ‘wash’ my hair and look half decent too!
I use a brand called Unite 7 Seconds Refresher but there are tons of them on the market and trust me, they actually work!
6. SparklySoul Headbands
Okay so you’ll probably see these on quite a few Gift Guides this year because they are a perennial favourite amongst runners and fitness-types but I’m including them here because of how practical these sparkly little beauties actually are! They have no black elastic in the back so they grip your head all the way around.
I wear the neutral colours for daily wear, the bright ones for exercising and keep a couple extras in my bag and in my car to freshen up after a run. The lovely ladies at Sparkly Soul Inc. are even offering gift cards this year and discounts through their ambassadors (stay tuned on that one!)
And just in time for the holidays, you should check out their new Holiday Packs! Special packs of 3, 4 or more headbands at a discounted price such as ‘Best-Sellers’, ‘Neons’, ‘The Boston Marathon Runner Pack’ or Christmas colours to name a few!
7. Garbage Bags
No, seriously. I think every runner (who races) needs a stash of garbage bags. They make the perfect little poncho your runner can throw on before a race to stay warm and dry. No bulky old sweatshirts, convenient to pack for destination races and they are easily torn off and thrown away after the gun goes off. Do your runner a favour and buy high-quality (preferably clear) garbage bags so they don’t have to wear those ugly orange ones…
8. Glad Press ’n’ Seal Wrap
Another one you might think makes no sense but if you have a road runner or Running Room runner on your list they’ll appreciate this one. Glad Press ’n’ Seal Wrap is perfect for ‘laminating’ your route instructions or pace bands so that they don’t get soggy in your pocket, pouch or on a rainy day. I’ve been using this stuff for years and would love to find a new roll under my tree this Christmas.
9. A Chawel
I’d be a pretty happy runner if Santa put a Chawel under my Christmas tree this year. You may not have any clue what that is but let me say this, a Chawel is one of the handiest pieces of a gear a runner can have. All the details are on their website but basically, it’s a towel/blanket/poncho you throw on over your smelly, wet run gear that allows you to strip down underneath and change into dry clothes right there in the parking lot. Sounds crazy but it’s seriously a game changer.
You can even use the code SOLANA to get 10% off your order at chawel.com!
10. Contigo Mugs
We runners love to hydrate and I know I drink way more water throughout the day when it’s ice cold and convenient. I picked up my first Contigo mug at Costco years ago and have never looked back. They are insulated, stainless-steel travel mugs with Autoseal lids that honestly do not leak (we’re talking drop it in your purse and forget about it, no leaks!) An icy cup of water by my bed still has full ice cubes in it well into the next day. They’re awesome and now available in all kinds of styles, sizes and colours. Amazing.
Do you really want to take gift advice from a girl in a garbage bag?
Maybe not but like I said, this wasn’t your typical runner’s Gift Guide – nope, no magazine subscriptions or new running socks here. And yes, I actually have pictures of myself wearing garbage bags. In public. On more than one occasion. And then had the gall to suggest you buy some for your friends for Christmas!
But if you’re buying for a runner who is at all like me (and by that I mean practical, not tasteless) they just might appreciate some of these more ‘unique’ and somewhat less common gifts this year.
Any other super-practical ideas I missed? Be sure to check out all the gift guides by visiting the #tuesdaysontherun linkup by clicking on the photo below!