Best Gifts For Runners – 40+ Unique Ideas For All Budgets
When the holiday season approaches (or a special occasion is on the horizon), it’s time to shop around for the best gifts for runners in your life. Whether they’re seasoned marathoners, love to explore trails, are aiming to complete an ultra or just starting their running journey, don’t worry. I got you covered.
From running gear, to recovery items, to cool, unique & personalized items – in this post you’ll find plenty of ideas to present thoughtful and practical gifts for runners that will contribute to their passion for the sport. Why not spend extra effort to make their holiday season extra special and help them stay motivated to work towards their goals?
As I’m building volume for exciting races ahead, this holiday season I’m personally excited about Bob & Brad’s recovery boots.
‘Secret Santa’, fun and small gifts for runners (under $25)
Shopping for gifts can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re looking to find cheap gifts for runners who have everything. But do keep in mind that apart from, probably, clothing & running shoes (not included in this guide), most of the products runners use are perishable. And that’s good news. As runners we go through a lot of different products on a daily basis and would appreciate any support here. So, a great present can be as trivial as something we use frequently. And, therefore, need to replace often.
Sure, some items can be personal (i.e. a runner might be used to a certain gel brand). And if you don’t know the runner that well, a much safer approach is to stick to more universal gifts, like socks, water bottles or even neck warmers. These items are important but are often afterthoughts for most runners. As these items are on the cheaper end, these are perfect as Secret Santa gifts for runners.
#1 Race bib holder
A race bib holder is a perfect marathon gift idea. Runners use these to secure and display their race numbers during running events. But a bib holder can be a useful training tool outside the competition period as well (triathletes use it all the time). You can use it to carry gels (or other nutrition) during a long run, which makes it a perfect small gift for someone running a marathon. Just make sure it has ‘storage’ on it and can be tightened to avoid bouncing.
#2 Reflective run vest
A reflective vest is another good idea for a Secret Santa gift for runners. It’s small, cheap and most of the runners would not necessarily go looking for one themselves. However, wearing reflective elements helps to increase the runner’s visibility in the dark and prevent accidents. Bonus points if the vest has led lights.
#3 A pack of energy gels to try out
Energy gels is one of the easiest gift ideas for runners. I have never heard a runner say “I have too many gels”. We consume those on extended training sessions or during a race to replenish glycogen stores and sustain energy levels. Every runner training for a race (i.e. marathon) or who is curious about performance tries new nutrition options, so gels come and go on a constant basis. And while a single gel is relatively cheap (around $2), the total cost can go up pretty quickly.
#4 Electrolyte tabs
Since we’re on the topic of nutrition, why not get your runner some electrolyte tabs? Runners need electrolytes to maintain proper fluid balance, prevent dehydration, prevent cramps and support essential bodily functions during prolonged and intense workouts. Using electrolytes is one of the deal breakers in long distance running and can be one of the best hydration gifts for your special someone.
#5 Water bottles
A water bottle is a great example of a product that tends to get overlooked. A plastic bottle doesn’t break, so there’s no obvious need to get a new one. However, if not replaced or cleaned it does get mouldy and filthy. Consider getting a few good quality, BPA-free water bottles as holiday ‘hydration gifts’ – any runner would appreciate it. Or, even better, think sustainably and get a stainless steel one that will hold the heat for longer.
#6 Foam rolling ball
A foam rolling ball can be a great Secret Santa gift. It’s small, but very practical, allowing to perform self-myofascial release and release muscle knots. Incorporating a foam rolling ball into their routine, runners can speed up muscle recovery, reduce muscle soreness and improve overall mobility. What else a runner can want?
#7 Performance run socks
Socks for Christmas? Sounds cheesy, I agree, but it’s a timeless classic for a reason. Every runner would appreciate a pair of good quality (and preferably colorful) performance socks as a Christmas or other holiday gift. These don’t come cheap and for an athlete it’s sometimes hard to commit to buying a new pair. But even a single pair can make a difference – that feeling of wearing new socks makes every run comfortable and extra special. Look for a fabric that is moisture-wicking (to avoid chafing) and has a little compression.
#8 Anti-chafing cream or balm
On the topic of chafing, another pro Secret Santa gift for runners would be an anti-chafing cream. It’s essentially a lubricant that helps to reduce friction and irritation in areas prone to chafing during long runs. Less chafing = more comfort and less risk of blisters that can affect the run.
#9 Books (especially my book – The Resilient Athlete)
Price: $15 – $30
By far one of the most affordable, inspirational and best gifts for runners would be a book. It can one on training practices, an inspirational story of an athlete, a bucket list book or even a cookbook. Below are a few to consider that I personally enjoyed a lot:
- The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance
- Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds
- Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself
- Lonely Planet Epic Runs of the World
- The Plantpower Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance for The Whole Family
I cannot miss the opportunity and encourage you to purchase one of my books as a gift for your special (runner) someone.
My book The Resilient Athlete presents a series of self-coaching sessions, much like ones you would have with a performance coach. These are not geared towards one particular sport, but rather focus on creating an ultimate athletic experience – one where physical and emotional states are in balance with purpose.
The Resilient Athlete
A Self-Coaching Guide to Next Level Performance in Sports & Life
Are you aiming to become a resilient athlete who is able to withstand any pressure? Be able to jump on any opportunity? Take any challenge life throws at you head on?
Then this book is for you.Learn more
#10 ‘Believe’ training journal
A training diary is a powerful motivational tool that runners can use to track and analyze their workouts, monitor progress and introduce accountability. Doing so is an important habit on the way to becoming a better athlete. Yes, a lot of data is now tracked automatically (i.e. via TrainingPeaks or Garmin), but the process of writing down how a training session went, where your mind is and how you feel is very effective. Through this journaling process you’ll learn more about yourself as a runner and the patterns – those that work and those that don’t.
I personally found ‘Believe’ journal to be the best on the market as it gives coaching tips along the way, which makes it one of the best inspirational running gifts – for both new runners and also seasoned ones.
#11 A pack of CR2032 batteries
If you’re really pressed for budget or are looking for a cheap stocking stuffer, a pack of CR2032 batteries is a simple and quick choice. Every heart rate chest strap is powered by this type of battery and they seem to always run dry quicker than expected. In fact, it’s always a good idea to use fresh ones for a race.
#12 A set of resistance bands
Resistance bands are a practical gift for running friends. These are a convenient tool for strength and stability training, as well as effective at activating and strengthening smaller stabilizing muscles, which can improve running efficiency and reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Each color creates a specific resistance and, therefore, promotes a different training effect. A bundle of different bands and loops make up a small yet thoughtful present.
#13 Magnesium salt for bath
If you’re looking for a gift for the runner who has everything, I bet many of them do not have magnesium salt (i.e. Epsom salt) for bath. And didn’t think they need it.
The idea is that when you pour such salt into warm water, it dissolves the magnesium in it and allows it to be absorbed into your body through the skin. That can contribute to overall well-being by supporting muscle function, energy production and providing a calming effect on the nervous system. For runners in particular, this helps to reduce muscle soreness, cramps and stiffness, as well as promote faster recovery after long or intense training sessions.
#14 Neck warmer
A neck warmer is a nice accessory for any runner. For someone who lives or runs in the mountains it’s an essential element. Weather can change quickly at altitude and what was a warm sunny day can turn stormy thirty minutes later. A neck warmer helps runners stay warm and protects the neck and upper chest from chilly winds and low temperatures, which makes it a perfect gift for a trail runner. And ultra runner as well.
#15 Quality pair of gloves for winter running
If you’re considering buying a neck warmer, why not combine it with some running gloves? Good quality gloves go a long way and make those winter runs comfortable and much more enjoyable. This would be a perfect gift for marathon runners who target those early and spring races (like Paris or Boston) and, therefore, are doing bulk of their training during winter months.
For those who run with a phone, bonus points if running gloves have touchscreen compatibility – that way the runner won’t need to take them off to switch a podcast episode.
Mid-range and fun gifts for runners ($25 – $75)
If you have a bigger budget to spend, there’s even more useful, fun and cool gifts for runners to choose from. Presents in this category are perfect not only for the holiday season, but also for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions.
Maybe you’re looking to find gifts for someone running a marathon? An ultra race? Or simply something not too general? If so, scroll down and choose what speaks to you.
#16 Foam roller
A foam roller is one of the best recovery tools for runners and other athletes. As little as 2-3 minutes of gentle rolling after a hard session helps to relieve tightness in the muscles and help bounce back quicker. A medium hard foam roller is one of the most versatile gifts for runners, because it can be used for both warm up and recovery. The softer the roller, the more muscle activation it provides. Harder, on the other hand, provides better tightness relief.
#17 Massage stick
Another great recovery tool for runners is a massage stick. It also allows athletes to perform a self-myofascial release, but also gives them the opportunity to target harder to reach areas and control the pressure. So, if your runner already has a foam roller, a massage stick would be a good alternative present.
A good headlamp is not only a practical gift for ultra runners, but also for an everyday runner who runs in the evening or early in the morning (especially during winter).
Running in the dark is no fun. Poorly lit places might sound romantic, but in reality are full of hazards. Potholes, roots, uneven terrain – all of it can result in a twisted ankle or a more serious accident. Not to mention that a runner is way more visible by cars & cyclists when he or she illuminates light. Pro tip – do spend a little extra, because cheaper headlamps tend to be bulky and bounce a lot.
#19 Quadlock phone holder
Price: $45 (excl. phone cover)
Personally, I run a lot of my runs with a phone. I know many other runners do as well. Sometimes I put it in my trail running undershorts, so that it doesn’t bounce. On particularly long runs I use a running backpack. When that’s not possible (and if the run is short) I simply hold it in my hand. And, occasionally I drop it…
This is where the phone holder comes in. Attaching the phone to an armband is a way more comfortable way to carry a phone during exercise than in your hands, which makes it a practical gift for your running friends. If you do go for a Quadlock one, make sure your friends have a compatible phone cover.
A kettlebell is everything a runner needs to get stronger. It’s compact (yet heavy) and is ideal for home workouts. Kettlebell exercises, such as swings and lunges, build overall strength, power, and stability, which contributes to improved running efficiency and reduced risk of injuries. The fact that you can select a very specific weight to work with makes it one of the best gifts for runners (men & women).
#21 The Resilient Athlete performance hat
A runner can’t have too many hats. So, why not get your runner friend a unique and special hat as a gift?
I made a limited edition run hat design to celebrate the launch of my book The Resilient Athlete. It looks cool, is very comfortable and extremely durable. I’ve been running exclusively in it for multiple months and it still looks like new. If you’re looking for a unique gift for runners and/or being part of the resilient athlete tribe, reach out to me directly via Instagram or email.
#22 Yoga mat
A quality non-slip yoga mat provides a comfortable and stable surface for stretching, core exercises, activation – essentially everything where an athlete lies down on the floor. The non-slip surface of the mat is key, as it allows to focus on stability during exercises and maintain proper form. A nice looking yoga mat is a great gift for runners – women and men. It can give extra motivation to stick to that strength training routine or core exercises the coach has prescribed.
#23 Compression socks for recovery
There’s plenty of research that supports the use of compression gear for recovery. They help to improve circulation and remove metabolic byproducts produced during intense or prolonged exercise. For runners calves in particular are at increased risk of overuse, because they absorb most of the shock of landing during a running stride. And just like quality performance socks, full compression socks don’t come cheap. Which is why these make up for great gifts for marathoners and everyone running longer distances.
#24 Medal and race bib display
If your special someone likes to race, putting medals and race bibs on display is a great way to celebrate that and boost his or her motivation. Some medal racks include motivational quotes, room for bib numbers and even space to record personal records. A truly ‘inspirational running gift’ to remind an athlete of his/her achievements and milestones.
#25 Acupressure set
Balancing running, work and family life is a stressful reality for many. We deal with pressure on a daily basis, so an easy way to relieve it is always appreciated. An acupressure set (mat + pillow) is a cost-effective way to do just that. It helps to ease muscle tension, promote blood circulation and improve recovery. Having all that in a comfort of own’s house is one of the best gifts for running dads and moms. Sometimes as little as 10 minutes on an acupressure mat can rejuvenate better than a massage appointment.
Premium and cool gifts for runners (over $75)
If you’re looking for a special present for someone (like a birthday gift or a group present), you’ll want to look into the big-ticket items. Below are some of the more unique and cool gifts for runners.
#26 Bob & Brad mini massage gun
A massage gun is like a portable massage therapist designed to be a cost-efficient alternative to a traditional massage appointment. It helps to relieve tightness, promote blood & lymph circulation and prevent inflammation caused by adhesion between the fascia and muscles.
A mini massage gun helps to target smaller areas better than a bigger gun and is perfect for muscle activation before a key workout. It can be used anywhere anytime, which makes it one of the most practical and fun gifts for runners.
Use a discount code BobBrad16 for a 10% OFF.
#27 Hydration backpack
A hydration backpack is essential for trail & ultra runners as it allows them to be self-sufficient during long runs and races. These usually come with pockets for soft water bottles (or a hydration system) and extra storage compartments for energy gels, keys, a phone or even a warm jacket.
A few of the people I coach actually use such hydration backpack on long runs of 1.5+ hours to make sure they are able to practice their nutrition for the race. So, it’s not only a thoughtful gift for trail runners (where weather changes quickly), but also a very practical and gift for marathon runners as well.
#28 Compression tights
Much like compression socks help to speed up recovery and reduce soreness in the calves after particularly long sessions, compression tights can do that for an entire lower body. Compression by itself can enhance oxygen delivery to muscles (read improved performance), potentially reducing fatigue and speeding up recovery post-exercise.
Tights provide targeted pressure on all lower body muscles, aiding in improved blood circulation and supporting muscles during and after running. This does come at a higher price, though.
#29 Bluetooth-enabled chest strap
It used to be that an athlete requires a pricey heart rate monitor (costing $400+) to track his or her heart rate. Now a Bluetooth-enabled chest strap can do that for less than quarter of the price. And provide some interesting additional data, like running dynamics. A chest strap can connect to the smartphone and record valuable heart rate data that an athlete can analyze after the session. Monitoring heart rate in such a way can help to tailor the training process to the athlete and, as a result, make it more efficient. Which makes it a good gift for running friends.
Important note – many beginner runners use wrist heart rate, which tends to be imprecise. A chest strap ensures a more secure and consistent connection, resulting in a more reliable measurement of heart rate.
#30 TRX suspension trainer
A TRX suspension trainer is a perfect training tool for a triathlete in any situation – outside, at home, in the gym or even while traveling. It can offer a full-body exercise using an athlete’s own body weight and besides developing muscle strength it also helps to improve stability, core strength and coordination that is so critical in a triathlon race.
This is another practical gift for running moms and dads who are pressed for time and a trip to the gym is a luxury.
#31 NutriBullet blender
A blender is another practical and cool gift for runners. It lets athletes easily prepare nutritious and customized smoothies that can serve as convenient and efficient nutrient dense meal. Just make sure you get a powerful one as a holiday present, as it will need to be able to not only blend fruits and vegetables, but also crush ice.
Tech gifts for runners
Tech products can be some of the best gifts for runners. A cool new gadget can boost a person’s motivation to train and even enhance the running experience. These do come with a higher price tag, though.
#32 Noise-cancelling earbuds for sleep
Athletes who travel a lot and stay in different hotels often struggle to maintain a consistent sleep quality. Jet lag, beds of questionable origin and, of course, the background noise. People talking loud, TV sounds, noise from buses and trains outside and all sorts of sounds that travel through hotel walls. All of that can affect sleep quality.
QuietOn’s noise-cancelling earbuds is a unique and one of the coolest gift ideas for runners. Especially those who travel to run a race and need a peaceful and uninterrupted sleep. These fit inside an ear and can help athletes on the road and at home improve sleep quality by reducing low-frequency sounds.
#33 Bob & Brad recovery boots
Recovery boots are a hot topic at the moment as runners & triathletes discovered the power of a so-called lymphatic drainage for recovery. Such gentle massage stimulates blood circulation and helps move the lymph around the body. That does two important things: facilitates removal of waste products produced during intense or prolonged running session and speeds up the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. Recovery boots use compression to simulate the same effect – all in the comfort of one’s own home.
There are many models on the market and prices can vary a lot. At the end of the day, ‘active compression’ is what creates the recovery effect.
Use the code BobBrad36 for a 10% OFF.
#34 Omius cooling headband/cap
Omius is a relatively new tech. You might have noticed an interesting-looking headband or cap with crystals on a few pro triathletes. I first thought it’s a charity thing, but then discovered that a brand Omius has developed a technology to increases the evaporative surface area of the skin by 5x. This improves the body’s natural cooling mechanism and dramatically increases comfort and performance in hot conditions and during strenuous exercise.
Lots of people I work with struggle with running in the heat. Omius came up with a cool cutting edge technology that makes up for a unique gift for runners, as it provides a simple yet effective solution to manage body temperature during intense workouts.
#35 Stryd power meter
Cyclists have been using power meters for years to better control intensity and measure the mechanical work done. It’s a relatively new trend in running, but is definitely here to stay. Unlike traditional metrics such as pace or heart rate, power meters directly quantify the force applied to the ground, offering a more immediate (and precise) reflection of a runner’s effort. This allows for better pacing, helping runners maintain consistent effort levels on varying terrains, gradients and weather conditions (i.e. headwind).
Stryd offers the most advanced running power meter and is definitely one of the fun gifts for runners to play around with. Besides power it also visualizes your gait (to help coaches discover inefficiencies) and offers training plans to follow.
#36 A continuous glucose monitor trial
Price: ~$150 (per month)
Further down the rabbit hole of cool and unique gifts for runners are continuous glucose monitors (CGM). Runners can benefit significantly from these, as CGMs provide real-time data on blood glucose levels, offering insights into how nutrition, hydration, and exercise impact metabolic responses. By monitoring glucose levels continuously, runners can make informed decisions about their fueling strategies, helping to optimize performance and prevent energy crashes or bonking during long runs.
Personalised and unique gifts for runners
If you’re looking for personalized gift ideas for marathon runners, worry no more. Below you’ll find an extra special gift for your special someone.
#37 An annual subscription to InsideTracker
InsideTracker is a platform where a person can upload his/her bloodwork and get an understanding of what it means. The platform assesses key biomarkers related to various aspects of health & performance, such as metabolism, inflammation, endurance, sleep, recovery. The data is then interpreted to offer insights and tailored recommendations for optimizing individual health and performance.
Definitely one of the most unique and personalized gifts for runners.
#38 Professional run gait analysis
A run gait analysis (from a qualified physiotherapist, not a shoe salesman) is something not typically high on a runner’s priority list. But it’s a very useful experience and is one of the most personalised gifts for runners to receive during holiday season.
You can give someone a Stryd power meter as a gift and let them try to figure things out themselves. Or you can find a clinic/specialist to analyze the running stride, posture and the overall body movement and provide a structured program to become a more effective and resilient runner. An experienced physiotherapist can spot inefficiencies and highlight areas & muscles to strengthen to prevent injuries and improve economy. A very valuable investment.
Keep in mind, a gait analysis is something that’s very local, as it takes place in person. So, choose one that your special someone can reach easily.
#39 A lactate test
Lactate testing involves measuring the concentration of lactate in the blood during various exercise intensities. This allows the athlete to determine aerobic and anaerobic thresholds, set correct training zones and develop a highly-targeted training plan.
Much like a gait analysis, not many runners would do this. However, by planning workouts based on lactate test results, runners can make more informed decisions about their training intensity and duration, which helps to induce desired training adaptations and contributes to more effective and efficient performance gains.
Needless to say, lactate test is also something that cannot be done virtually, so look for one in the area.
#40 Marathon race entry
Price: $50+ (excl. travel)
Signing up for a marathon can be one of the most transformative experiences a runner can have. Training for the race improves the athlete’s fitness, develops mental toughness, improves planning and time management skills, which helps to cultivate a resilient mindset that extends beyond the race.
A marathon entry is one of the most personalized and best gifts for marathon runners. In fact, one of the runners I coached got a slot for a marathon in Madrid as a Christmas gift from his wife. And that started a whole new journey for him and our 2-year coaching relationship.
Which brings me to…
#41 A month of coaching
I saved the best for last. One of the best gifts for new runners (and experienced ones as well) is that of a personal coach. Be it a one-time appointment, a program that is tailor-made to the athlete or ongoing monthly feedback sessions – having someone look at the training process from the side and tell what an athlete is doing wrong is by far the best way to become a better athlete.
A coach will be able to find areas of improvements and provide a different perspective on athlete’s training. In particular, offer invaluable insights on running technique, injury prevention, recovery strategies and, of course, help set achievable goals that motivate an athlete to put in quality work, elevate fitness level and with that gain more satisfaction from the training process.
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How did I get here?
Hey there! My name is Andrejs and I am here to inspire, entertain and get you fit for any adventure.
I went from being an over trained pro athlete to an endurance coach sharing how to listen to your body and live life to the fullest.
Traveling, new sports & activities brought new meaning to my training and made it much more effective, fun and enjoyable. And I'm here to help you do the same.