First of all, it’s important to make note of a few items to “never” buy for runners. Top on the list is running shoes. The proper fit of a running shoe can’t be stressed enough, and even if you happen to know your favorite runner’s shoe size, it doesn’t matter. All models of shoes are created with slight differences and some fit snugger than others even if they both happen to be size 9. A runner must be there in person to try on, walk, and possibly even go for a short run in the shoes before they are purchased. Hats also fall into the “don’t buy” category. Runners like to pick out their own hates because a poor fitting hat can become irritating very quickly if it is too constricting or falls down over the runner’s eyes. Probably the biggest dis-service you could do to a runner is to buy them an I-Pod so they can listen to music as they run. This is an extremely dangerous practice.
However, there are still many gift ideas that might be very helpful in developing the ability and adding to the comfort of a runner.
(1) There are many books on nutrition and diet on the market, but finding a well-written book on nutrition for athletes might take a bit of research but will be well worth the effort. Often the biggest mistakes many runners and other athletes make is to train their hearts out and than fail to nourish their bodies properly to compensate for the extra physical stress they are putting on themselves. Proper diet will improve strength, endurance, and most of all will help recover for workouts.
(2) Physical stress can lead to other issues as well and it’s important for athletes to have balance in their lives. It would be very thoughtful and wise to buy your runner a membership to a Yoga class. For far too many years “inner balance” has been ignored and now even professional athletes of the highest caliber are introducing Yoga into their lives to rejuvenate their bodies after all the physical stress they impose on themselves.
(3) Consider purchasing your runner a book on heart monitor training. Dr. Phil Maffetone has the perfect book on heart monitor training and it is sure to add considerable insight into a new way for runners to look at training. Most runners have no idea of “pace” and how important it is once they decide to take up road racing. It is the absolute key to being a successful distance runner. By running too fast too soon runner’s will burn up their glycogen stores quickly and hit the dreaded “wall.” Heart monitor training teaches runner’s how to burn fat as a opposed to carbohydrates and as a result stretch out their glycogen stores. This is one of the major key secrets to becoming a successful runner that few people are aware of.
(4) Once the book is purchased, choosing the perfect heart rate monitor is not as difficult as it may seem at first. Especially when you go into the local retail outlet and see all the choices staring you in the face. By purchasing a heart rate monitor for a runner you will be doing them a great service “if” you choose the right one. By that I mean, choose the most basic model. Often runners will be confused and spend far too much money on a monitor. So make the choice for them and they can always upgrade later if they choose. The monitor will come with a belt that is attached around the chest and a monitor that is worn on the wrist like a watch. When the runner puts on the belt, the monitor will display his heart-rate. To start out with, that’s the only function that is really needed. It should cost well under $100. Fancier models will inter-face with computers and have dozens of confusing settings. It’s not a good idea to start out with the complicated models.
(5) Far too often runners leave for a long run without any sort of identification on their person. For just a few dollars an identification bracelet can be purchased for a runner. One day it could save their life. Often runners end up far from home and in isolated areas. Medical emergency can happen at any time that might render them unconscious. An I.D. bracelet can include the wearer’s name, address, age, emergency contact number, blood type, allergies, and any other important data that would be a great source of information for medical personnel.
(6) There are still some in the older generation who have taken up a lifestyle of fitness through running, but have not yet given in to all the temptations of this high tech world we live in. There may be a senior runner in your life that could really use a cell phone to take along on those early morning runs. It can be their “running” phone that is the “pay as you go” variety and is used only in cases of emergency. It will ensure peace of mind for everyone involved.
(7) For a “fun” gift a pedometer would be a unique idea. It can give a runner bragging rights as it will record every step they take during their daily run. Somehow 6000 steps as opposed to 3kms might make a runner feel they did an even more awesome workout.
(8) Most runners train in a haphazard manner and often fail to follow a training pattern. Purchasing a runner a simple training log will help them organize their training days much better. With a log they will be able to plan a week’s running in advance and allow for short run days, long run days, and of course rest days. A structured pattern of run training will make a huge difference to the proper development of any runner’s conditioning.
(9) Buying running jackets, racing shorts and singlets, water bottle belts, and numerous other types of running gear and aids is always helpful, but in today’s marketplace there is just so much variety out there. Unless you have a feel for the style your runner prefers, why not consider a gift card to a running store? Most runners would really appreciate that.
(10) It you know a runner in your life has their heart set on competing in a particular race in the coming months, why not buy their entry for them? That would be a thoughtful, excellent gift because it shows that someone has a genuine interest in what they are doing and also gives them incentive to train a little harder.