Coach Mike Mead

December 2011

Practical Running Gifts for the Holidays

The Christmas season is upon us and many runners will be asking or expecting some running necessities and accessories. Depending on one’s budget, there is a wide range of running gift ideas that can be practical and affordable for any budget.

The most practical gift to give a runner is a good pair of running shoes. One can never go wrong giving a pair of shoes, provided they fit and are functional. Serious runners can go through a pair of training shoes in as little as one month to about three months depending on the weekly mileage. As I have said before, running shoes have a life expectancy of about 500 miles.

A good pair of running shoes can run as little as $40 a pair to $130 a pair. If you are on a tight budget, try to find a pair in the $50 range. If you do some shopping around, you can find those high-end shoes of $100-plus for 50-70% less. Look for discontinued style or color for a good bargain. A couple pairs on bargain shoes will carry a runner much longer than a pair of high-end shoes.

It doesn’t hurt to have an inexpensive pair of running shoes to wear when one is not running since a runner should not wear their training shoes except for training. Training shoes need time to de-compress and if one is constantly wearing their training shoes, you just wear them down quicker.

Running attire is another popular gift to give a runner during the Holidays. The sport of running is probably the most affordable. Shoes, socks, shorts and a shirt pretty much is all one needs when it comes to running. Competitive runners get their share of T-shirts, so a more practical gift would be getting a runner some shorts or a good warm-up suit.

Another good gift for a runner is a sports watch that includes a stopwatch. Runners like keeping up with their time and splits so look for a watch that keeps at least 30 splits. One can find a good, useful runner’s watch for about $30.

Perhaps the most popular running accessory in the last three years is a runner’s GPS watch. Not only do these watches keep time of a run, but also the distance of the run and the average pace of the run. If you really want to surprise the runner in your family, consider a runner’s GPS. Be aware that these GPS watches run significantly higher compared to the traditional runner’s watch.

An alternative to the GPS watch is to buy a good runner’s watch and do more training on a 400m track. Sort of a poor-runner’s alternative -- one cannot go wrong with the accuracy in the distance on a track compared to a GPS.

Another inexpensive, but very practical and helpful running accessory is a good runner’s training log. Despite the technology these days with computers and smart phones, an old-fashioned training log is still a very useful runner’s accessory. For less than $10, a good training log will be a helpful runner’s training aid, if used properly, and keeping track where you’ve been in previous years.

If one is tight on funds, another practical running aid is a simple five-foot length of rope. Rope? Five feet? Well, the rope is very useful in doing PNF stretching. A good runner needs to spend time stretching after a good training run to improve flexibility and prevent injuries. You can find several PNF stretches by doing an internet search then print them off on nice paper to include with the rope.

The key to a good gift for a runner is taking a little time to understand their needs and wants. It’s the thought that counts!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s!