Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday Gifts For Runners

With apologies to my friend Lisa at the RunWiki blog, here's my list of 11 reasonably-priced gear gifts for runners this holiday season.

Why 11, you say? Well, everyone does their top 5, top 10, etc. I'm a rebel - I'm listing 11 (also, I'm a fan of the mock rock-umentary, This is Spinal Tap, so "this one goes to eleven"). And while Lisa's list was geared towards the fairer sex; my list will cover both men and women. And these are all products I currently use (but wouldn't mind sampling new products from these companies, hint, hint).

First, no runner should leave his/her house without identification. The RoadID does the trick. I use the Wrist ID Slim ($15.99), which is basically a rubber bracelet with a small metal plate with your information laser-printed, but I have used their Shoe ID as well. It's all personal preference, but safety is the important thing here.

Next, in addition to ID, many runners like to carry their phones, some cash, chapstick, etc. the SPIBelt is perfect for holding Small Personal Items (thus, SPI) on an elastic belt. The pouch expands to hold a lot of items; I've easily fit my iPhone4 in there, and it doesn't bounce around on your waist. The original SPIBelt goes for $19.99 on their website.

Third, how many times have you been out on a great run when a shoelace came untied? Or maybe you tied your laces too tightly and your foot began throbbing from the tightness of the laces? Say no more - LockLaces elastic shoelaces will help. Once you get the laces set comfortably on your running shoes, you just slip your shoes on and off - no more tying of shoelaces, and it's a consistent fit. 3 sets of laces go for $19.99 on LockLaces' website, or you could try your local running store; I pay $7.00 for a single set.

While we're on the topic of feet, I've found that Feetures makes a great sock. The Feetures Elite Light Cushion ($14.99) is now my sock of choice on my long runs. Each sock is engineered for specific left & right foot support, there is no toe seam (aka, blisters), and the cushioning on the heel and ball of the foot is extremely comfortable.

For those of us who like to get our runs in during the early morning or late afternoon, visibility in winter is an issue. Amphipod makes a lightweight reflective vest, the Xinglet, ($24.95) that is not bulky, but very visible. It has a quick release clip that makes it easy to get on & off, and the straps do not chafe.

On the topic of visibility, a good headlamp makes all the difference when running in the dark. I've tried a few, but I am partial to the Tikka 2 by Petzl ($29.95 at REI). Very bright, lightweight, and comes with 3 lighting modes (high, low, and strobe) and an extremely comfortable headstrap.

As someone who struggles with hydration issues, to me, nothing beats Nuun electrolyte-enhanced drink tabs ($24.00 for a 4-pack) for quenching my thirst on a run. I was turned on to Kona Cola by Lisa, and I have to say, there is nothing that beats Kona Cola in a hand-held bottle on a long run. Kona Cola is so good, I keep a few tubes at work and drink it during the day. I also am partial to the Tri-Berry flavor.

And if you're going to use Nuun, you need to have something in which to carry it. The Nathan Quick-Draw Elite ($26.99 at Road Runner Sports) hand held bottle more than covers you. Lightweight, with a breathable, adjustable mesh hand strap, and it holds 22 oz of liquid, perfect for mid-length runs. The strap also has a zippered pouch for storing valuables, along with a smaller elastic pouch large enough to hold a gel packet.

When you get home from a long weekend run, your legs may be sore. Get rid of that soreness by rolling your muscles with The Stick. I know many people tout the benefits of foam rollers, and they do work, but as someone who has dealt with chronic calf problems, The Stick has helped me more than I could imagine. I personally use The Marathon Stick ($31.95), but I'm sure any one of their models will give benefit you greatly.

And finally, after rolling out your legs, put your calves in recovery mode by using calf compression sleeves by 2XU. This product, while the most expensive on the list ($44.95), is my most cherished piece of recovery equipment. I have worn these sleeves to work, during the day, and to sleep. Doing this has allowed me to run the next day after 20 mile training runs, not to mention just walking upright the same day of said runs. These sleeves are seamless and very comfortable to wear, and take it from me, they do the job.

So there you have it - a little bit of something for the runner in your life. Take note, all of these items are each under $50, and the entire list can be had for around $250 total. A great investment in runner safety, training, and recovery.

Happy Holidays, and run smart!!


  1. Great list Dave. I just realized that mine happens to be 11 things too. So weird!!! I don't own a marathon stick but have always wanted one. I also love that your list is so reasonably priced! Hope you get all the running things you want this year! :)

  2. Thanks, Jes! With a 6 year-old, the holidays are all about him - so I get my running gear when I need it (plus, I'm impatient, haha).