Best Gifts for Runners

Top 25+ Running Experts Reveal Best Great Thoughtful & Unique Gifts for Runners in 2017

Runners are a strange breed of people: they don't act like normal humans... When pain kicks in, their mind and body orders them to stop but they just ignore it. Determination is one of their greatest qualities and you admire them for that.
You want to let them know you do by offering a unique gift. From which they will both appreciate your consideration and benefit from.

If you are tired of reading the same articles about the supposedly "best" running gifts when it looks like just a random list of products with no thought process behind we totally agree, and that is why we decided to take action.

Even if some in our team are quite good runners, we thought it would be a great idea to include other running experts into our Best Thoughtful & Unique Gifts for Runners post so that you can get a good insight on what will really please your lucky runner.

So we reached out to 26 Running Experts and Bloggers and asked a simple question:

“If you had to settle for 3 Running Gifts, which one would you go for?”

We wanted to know the best running items which we must have and ignore the rest that we can live without.
Indeed, the running market is big business and products come out everyday, but what are those that are actually worth it and which ones bring real value to the runner ?

Let's find out !

Best Gifts for Runners (Voted by 26 Serious Runners)

After interviewing more than a quarter of a hundred runners we organized all the data into categories and came up with an idea of what type of gifts runners are into, check it out:

Running Essentials
52%

Running Experience
47%

Running Gadgets
34%

Wellness Experience
30%

Knowledge Experience
22%

Other
18%

It is no surprise to see Running Essentials at the number one spot, as this category includes running shoes, socks and tights.
At second place comes what most people don't think of gifting: a Running Experience, this can go from simply paying a race fee to organizing a whole race trip.
The bronze medal goes to Running Gadgets which mostly include GPS watches.

We'll get into it in more detail later but since it's likely you will be buying a gift for a woman or a man we chose to reorganize the data depending on the sex. Results are similar but not in the same order of importance.

Best Gifts for Women Runners

Running Essentials
77%

Wellness Experience
64%

Race Experience
50%

Running Gadgets
43%

Knowledge Experience
21%

Other
21%

Best Gifts for Men Runners

Running Essentials
66%

Running Gadgets
55%

Race Experience
44%

Knowledge Experience
33%

Other
33%

Wellness Experience
0%

As you can see men are easier to please (or harder depending on how you see it) since their wishes are shared equitably between the different categories. Women on the other side have a significant preference for running essentials and wellness.

But what does these broad categories include ? Let's see what the experts have to say !
Continue reading if you want to discover the favorite accessories of each running blogger.
If you are short on time, you can just skip to your favorite blogger(s) using the links below.

Ali K - ABK Runs

 My top three gifts would be:
1) the entry to a race of my choice, including the cost of a hotel if I had to travel for it (Running Experience);
2) a new Garmin (Running Gadget);
3) a gift card for shoes or running clothes, particularly to Skirt Sports (Running Essentials)!


Ali F - Ali on the Run

 1. Your company! The best gift a friend or loved one can give is to join me on a run (Wellness Experience). 
2. A spa gift card. My sore, achy, tired feet and legs could use some love (Wellness Experience). 
3. You on the sidelines during my next race. Your support and cheers are better than any pair of socks or sneakers. (Better yet, sign up and run with me!) (Other)


David - Fell Running Guide

Winter sun! I get fed up with cold, dark days and bad weather so the chance to get away from the British winter for a few days and run in the mountains in shorts and tee shirt would be great. (Running Experience)

book; as a coach I'm particularly interested in different training methods so like to read about how other coaches and athletes train. (Knowledge Experience)

Socks, you can't have enough of them! A good quality merino wool pair is always welcomed. (Running Essentials)


Doug - Rock Creek Runner

- A runner's log (Other)

- Headlamp for night running (Running Gadget)

- Anti chafe (Running Gadget)

And as a bonus, the new RCR Tumbers - http://www.rockcreekrunner.com/tumbler/


Emma - the PhD Runner

If I had to settle for 3 running gifts (only 3!!!) I would love any of the following:

1. A pair of customised insoles from Profeet - 20+ years of running has taught me that my fragile feet need decent insoles. (Running Essentials)

2. A gold/iron level assessment with StrideUK or something similar. (Knowledge Experience)

3. A replacement GPS for my Garmin Forerunner 220 - preferably Garmin Forerunner 235. (Running Gadgets)

Nothing too demanding!


Erin - Running Ruminations

Race registration costs (Running Experience)
Coaching services (Knowledge Experience)
A pair of shoes (Running Essentials)

 


Jamie - Jamie Pang

My 3 essentials would be:
Running shoes (Running Essentials)
worn-in socks (Running Essentials)
and coffee! (Other)


Jason - Strength Running

I'm a big fan of running gifts that keep on giving. Like a Jelly of the Month Club, except even better.
So I'm a huge fan of books (Knowledge Experience). Because after all, once you know more about running you'll be able to design better training, prevent more injuries, and ultimately run a lot faster.
There are quite a few great books out there but my favorites are Run Faster From the 5k to Marathon by elite coach Brad Hudson and Anatomy for Runners by Jay DiCharry.
And I'd be remiss not to add my own book Running for Health & Happiness 😉
Other than books, I strongly recommend every runner use a foam roller regularly to aid the recovery process (Other).
If you're learning more about this great sport and taking care of your body, you'll accomplish far more than you ever hoped!


Jeff - Go Bronco Billy

Book: The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance (Knowledge Experience)
Trip to run in Patagonia (Running Experience)
 

Jeff - Jeff Pelletier

here are a few essentials that I can’t live without:
1) Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra (Running Essentials)
With the high snow pack and unusually cold winter we’ve had on the PNW this year, these crampons are essential for allowing me to hit the trails in deep snow or mixed conditions. I’ve tried many different brands and models over the year, but these are by far the best in terms of quality and durability.
2) Delorme inReach SE (Running Gadget)
With two-way satellite communication via GPS, and the ability to for your friends and family to track you online, this is an essential investment for those of us who spend a considerable amount of time in the backcountry without cell coverage. The SOS feature will not only provide a confirmation message from a rescue centre, but the 2-way texting allows them and you to provide updates.
3) Suunto Ambit 3 Vertical (Running Gadget)
The ultimate GPS and heart-rate watch for mountain adventures. The navigation features have got me out of a bind more than once, when cloud cover made it otherwise impossible to find my way home.


Jen - Running with the Girls

Such a hard question to answer!  But after thinking about it:
- A race-cation .......   in the winter, to somewhere warm.  Like the Key West Half Marathon.  (I live in Maine.... anything to escape the snow!)  (Running Experience)
- A hot tub - because it would be amazing to come home from a run and soak in that!  (Wellness Experience)
- A sports massage to work out those kinks! (Wellness Experience)


Jess - Jess Runs Blessed

I love gifts that I won't buy myself, things like sports massages (Wellness Experience), gadgets (Running Gadgets), and running gear (Running Essentials) designed to save me time. I'm a busy mom on the go!

 


John - Running Writings

1.  Freelap Timing Kit (Running Gadget) - I'd love being able to get precise data on top-end speed and splits for short-distance reps when I'm coaching, so a wireless timing system would be the perfect solution for this.  I've been in contact with some youth athletics coaches in Europe who use this system with great success, so I've always wanted to try it.

2.  TomTom Runner GPS Watch (Running Gadget) - I've been hobbling along with a very old GPS watch that just doesn't cut it anymore.  I'm a pretty simplistic runner—I don't need a ton of functionality on my watch, just distance, time, pace, and splits, so an entry-level watch like this would be great for me.

3.  A trip to Asia or Africa to run a lesser-known race (Running Experience) - Recently I've been writing about awesome races that are a little bit off the beaten path.  There are some incredible events in Africa and Southeast Asia that I'd love to run someday—a few examples would be the Yangon Marathon in Myanmar, the Colombo Marathon in Sri Lanka, the Great Ethiopian Run, and the Two Oceans Marathon (actually a 56k) in South Africa.


Kaitlin - Running Joyfully

For 3 running gifts, I'd recommend Lopez Lomong's book "Running for Your Life" (Knowledge Experience),
a gift certificate for a post-race massage (Wellness Experience),
and a gift certificate for a pedicure (runner's feet aren't pretty!) (Wellness Experience).

Kass - The Lone Runner

Garmin 235 for function (Running Gadget),
features high cushion running socks for function and comfort (Running Essentials)
and a new pair of shoes for function and fashion (Running Essentials) - even if I'm not going to run in the shoes- I absolutely love sneakers!! They're just so pretty!
 

Kelly - I am Running This

1. Time to run (Other). Guilt free time to run is the most precious gift you can give a runner. Whether it means working weekend plans around a long run or watching the kids solo, it's always appreciated.
2. Podcast/audio book/playlist suggestions (Knowledge Experience). We run out of things to listen to, and the options are overwhelming. Sharing a list of curated favorites or scouring the web for recommendations based on their interests is a great gift for a runner.
3. Socks (Running Essentials). Find the ones we love that are wearing out and buy us new ones. Most running gear lasts indefinitely and is sometimes hard to buy for someone else. Socks? New, cushy socks are amazing. (And surprisingly expensive!)

Kevin - Run BK Run

Running gifts that would me me happy..
1.Longevity. The ability to know that I will always be able to run and not be constrained by injury. (Wellness Experience)
2.Friendships. Running is all about spending time with my friends, doing what we all love together (Other). 
3.Races. The ability to keep racing well into my old age. I love training but racing is where I really come alive, pushing yourself and finding out about yourself in racing situations (Running Experience).
Can I be cheeky and add one more, Yelo Muffins (image)..... all runners need the odd treat now and again...


Lora - Crazy Running Girl

I would go for:
-- Berlin Marathon entry: I would love to run the Berlin Marathon -- it's been on my wishlist for a long time! This would be such a fun gift (or really, any entry into a marathon would be!). (Running Experience)
-- Brooks Running shoes: Shoes are the most important element for a runner: they can make or break whether you have a serious injury. Brooks Running shoes are my go-to, either the Glycerin or Launch, to keep my feet and legs happy no matter the distance. Plus, as long as you have shoes, you can run! (Running Essentials)
-- A membership to a fitness studio: Running is my favorite, and I need a little bit of convincing to try other workouts... but I do know that I would benefit a lot from focusing on other muscle groups that will help me be a more efficient runner. Lately, I've been checking out The Firm in Minneapolis, but I think as a gift, I'd be happy with a studio that focuses on yoga, boot camps or barre. (Wellness / Knowledge Experience)


Malcolm - Malcsblog

1. Buffs or neck warmers (preferably colourful). I have lots of them. They are such a small, versatile and simple item of clothing but I find them so useful. They keep the wind out by sealing my jacket around my neck, my neck warm in the cold and the sun off in the summer. Then when I don’t need it during a run I can just rap it round my wrist and it’s out of the way and even becomes a sweat band. (Running Essentials)

2. Gore running jacket, breathable and completely weather proof. An absolutely brilliant piece of quality clothing which keeps out the worst and wettest of the British weather. An expensive piece of kit but sometimes you get what you pay for and that’s the case here. (Running Essentials)

3. Ultimate Direction Running Vest. I’m not a runner who likes to carry much kit but at times I’ve competed in trail races with a compulsory kit list and this vest has allowed me to carry the necessary items to comply. I’ve also found it ideal for the more mundane tasks of running to and from work so I can carry my butties, mobile and keys. It’s a great fit, sung on my back, light and minimal. (Running Essentials)

Read more on Malcsblog...


Monica - Run Eat Repeat

A bib for an awesome destination race (Running Experience)
GPS watch (Running Gadget)
Running shoes - I can always use new running shoes (Running Essentials)
 
 

Beth - Shutup and Run

Gift #1: This year for Christmas I asked for a running calendar. My husband had one made at Shutterfly and it is all pictures of me running. It’s a great gift for any runner (Other).

Gift #2: Really nice running socks. This sounds boring, but I think socks can be expensive so we tend to skimp on getting the really quality ones. But having great socks can make or break a run. My favorites are the Blister Resist socks from Balega. (Running Essentials)

Gift #3: Gift certificate for a sport’s massage. Again, this is something we should all probably do more often, but it feels like a luxury item. Any runner would love a good rub down (Wellness Experience)


Steff - Run Steff Run

If I had to settle on three running gifts, here is what they would be. 
1. Running shoes. Can't go wrong with shoes. (Running Essentials)
2. Race-cation. Take me somewhere I have always wanted to go and let me run a race! (Running Experience)
3. Personalize training plan. If I could have someone write my plan and check up on me, I would be thrilled! (Other)


Steve S. - Run Bulldog Run

1. Addaday Uno Massage Roller. Use daily for best results. (Running Gadget)
2. Road ID. Don't leave home without one! (Other)
3. Injinji Socks. Gotta keep the feet happy. (Running Essentials)

 


Steve W. - Addicted 2 Running

The best gift I've received running is the friendships I've developed (Other).
The next would be the experiences/places that I've gone as a result -- destinations that I probably wouldn't have traveled to (NYC, Oregon, Utah, southern Cali) (Running Experience). 

Outside of those, it might be tough to nail it down, but I'll pick a piece of gear. Of course, shoes make all the difference, and that's too obvious (Running Essentials). One year for Xmas, my brother gave me a pair of Julbo sunglasses that I had been wanting. Nine years later, I still have them ... and they are my favorite pair (even though I have a newer pair) that I use all the time.


Tiffany - Running for Carbs

1. Garmin 630 because I love my watch and wear it everyday. I'd be lost without it. (Running Gadget)
2. Race entry into a non-local race. It's always fun to travel somewhere else and try a new course. (Running Experience)
3. Pair of running shoes, because no one could ever have too many pairs of running shoes. 🙂 (Running Essentials)


Tom - Running Physio

My 3 running gifts would be;
1) A running experience e.g. A week away running in the Lake District 
2) New running shoes (Running Essentials)
3) wireless running headphones (that actually stay in my ears!) (Running Gadgets)

27 Best Running Gifts Ideas

We compiled all this data and ordered the gifts by order of recurrence in the chart below:

Running Experience
48%

Shoes
44%

GPS Watch
26%

Socks
22%

Book
19%

Sport Massage
15%

Coaching
11%

Company
11%

Backpack
7%

Massage Roller
7%

SPA Gift Card
3%

Coffee
3%

Runner Log
3%

Headlamp
3%

Headphones
3%

Sunglasses
3%

GPS Phone
3%

Pedicure
3%

Insoles
3%

Jacket
3%

Anti Chafe
3%

RoadID
3%

Custom Calendar
3%

Hot tub
3%

Time
3%

Neck warmer
3%

Timing Kit
3%

You should begin to have a clear idea of what are the best gifts for runners.
Indeed, you can't go wrong with the top 5 running gifts, as they have been mentioned by almost all of the experts and influencers:

  1. Running Experience
  2. Running shoes
  3. Running watch
  4. Running socks
  5. Book

Any of this kind of gift is very likely to please the lucky runner.
But then again, this data doesn't mean much until we separate the running gift ideas into gender categories. Indeed some of these gifts are either women or men oriented !

Fun fact: there were more women interviewed but men mentioned more gift ideas.

Best Running Gifts Ideas for Men

Running Experience
32%

Shoes
26%

Socks
16%

Books
16%

Watch
11%

Backpack
11%

Massage Roller
11%

Company
11%

Coffee
5%

Running Log
5%

Wireless headphones
5%

Timing kit
5%

Sunglasses
5%

Satellite Phone
5%

Headlamp
5%

Anti Chafe
5%

RoadID
5%

Neck warmer
5%

Jacket
5%

Best Running Gifts Ideas for Women

Shoes
47%

Running Experience
47%

Watch
33%

Sport Massage
27%

Coaching
20%

Socks
20%

Book
13%

Insoles
5%

Company
5%

Pedicure
5%

Custom Calendar
5%

SPA Gift card
5%

Gym membership
5%

Hot tub
5%

Time
5%


Now that you know which kind of good gifts runners are expecting how do you choose the best product ?
Well, thanks to our previously mentioned running experts, customer feedback, magazine and blogger reviews we are able to pick for you with confidence the best items of each category:

The Best Running Shoes (March 2017)

A good pair of shoes is a runner's essential, your performance will depend upon it and it's always a cool bonus to look good while running.
When choosing a running shoe it is of paramount importance to consider the human body's bio-mechanics, comfort, support and running experience.

This list is updated as soon as necessary to consider new products, brands and technology innovations.

The Best Shoes for Women

The best overall running shoes

On Cloud

The On Cloud running shoes are the best you can find for pretty much anything including road, speed work, track, trails, offroad, recovery runs, etc.
They allow explosive toe-offs and soft landings thanks to it's cushioning and impact protection sole.
They are extremely light at only 7 ounces and come with a huge combo colors that all look better than the other.
The On Cloud are responsive without being bouncy, cushioned without being squishy, stable without being constrictive


The best good looking running shoes

Nike Free Flyknit 4.0

While the Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit were designed as running shoes, they are actually also great everyday shoes. They are highly breathable, as comfortable as barefoot shoes, and extremely lightweight. They are the perfect gift for runners that are looking to complement their serious collection of running shoes.
They come with a few cons however as they can't be used in winter because of the Flyknit fabric that lets air and water in.
The Nike Free 4.0 comes in a huge variety of cool color combinations making them a great gift, even if your runner already has a pair.


The best affordable running shoes

Saucony Cohesion 9

The Saucony Cohesion 9 are the best bang for your buck. These are the perfect gift for the running beginner and don't think for one second that since they are more affordable they aren't quality shoes ! In fact they are one of the best running shoes out there !
Sure, they aren't as sexy as the latest Nike or On shoes but they are much more durable and come with a great cushioning system that is perfect for those coping with muscle pain or discomfort while running.

The Best Shoes for Men

The best overall running shoes

On Cloud

The On Cloud running shoes are the best you can find for pretty much anything including road, speed work, track, trails,

offroad, recovery runs, etc.

They allow explosive toe-offs and soft landings thanks to it's cushioning and impact protection sole.
They are extremely light at only 7 ounces and come with a huge combo colors that all look better than the other.
The On Cloud are responsive without being bouncy, cushioned without being squishy, stable without being constrictive


The best running shoes for everyday training

Adidas Supernova Glide

The Supernova Glide are high quality running shoes with all the Adidas running technology, allowing great support, breathability and energy return.

They will provide similar performance than the On Cloud with explosive toe-offs and soft landings but with added grip on wet areas.
For cons, they are a heavier and they could be a bit constrictive on wide feet.


The best shoes for trail running

Salomon Snowcross CS

The Salomon Snowcross CS were designed for a specific terrain and you can see it at a glance. Perfect for trail running they can also accommodate to various weather conditions thanks to their water-repellent fabric while still allowing breathability.
The aggressive knobs on the outer sole offer great traction on snow or icy terrains, especially thanks to the 9 metal spike spins.
The Salomon Snowcross CS are simply the best running shoes for all season trail runners (gripping well on mud, rocks, ice, etc).

The Best GPS Running Watches (March 2017)

Running watches are the third most voted running gift and that's no surprise when you know they are a great tool for runners.
It will make them train better and subsequently get better. Indeed they will be able to monitor paces, heart-rate and overall performance. They will be able set up distance or interval programs and keep track of their progress.
They can even allow themselves to get lost in the wilderness and the GPS data will help them to get back.

To check what are the best GPS watches for runners click here.


The Best Running Socks (March 2017)

Running socks might seem like a gimmick to non-runners but according to our experts above it is an absolute essential that is often forgotten as a gift.

The injinji running socks are the absolute best thanks to their combination of technologies.
Compared to regular socks they have:

  • Optimised breathability thanks to mesh top ventilation
  • Optimised sweat absorption thanks to superior fiber construction
  • Heel tab to protect against chaffing
  • Allows your toes to naturally splay and align
  • Custom size brackets for better fit

Runners using these socks are also very happy to forget about blisters. They are a bit expensive and that's why most runners don't necessarily think about buying them but when you know they are extremely durable, save band-aid money, and allows better performance and comfort, it's a no brainer: they definitely are one of the best thoughtful gifts you can offer.


The Best Books about Running

Back in the 1st century AD, Juvenal stated "All wish to know but none wish to pay the price".
Taking this literally is a funny way to make a gift of great value.
On a more serious note, once a runner has reached an advanced level, performance is a physical manifestation of knowledge and their progress depends largely on the value of the embedded knowledge.

Here is a list of recommended books:

- Running for Health and Happiness: The Beginner's Guide to Faster, Pain-Free Running by Jason Fitzgerald
- Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon: How to Be Your Own Best Coach by Brad Hudson
- Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed, and Injury Prevention by Jay Dicharry
- The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance by Jeff S. Volek

And here's a couple of auto-biography books that will definitely inspire any runner (and even couch potatoes):
- Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games by Lopez Lomong
- Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

The End !

A MASSIVE thanks to everyone who contributed to this roundup!
The objective was to answer a very requested query: "What are the best gifts for runners ?"
We are happy to provide valuable insight from competent and serious runners to guide you through your choice.
Please share and comment to let us know if you'd like more posts like this one and happy giving !

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