Unique and Useful Gifts for Runners by a Runner

2018 Runner's Gift Guide

One of the best things about running is you don’t need much. Some shoes. Some clothes you don’t mind getting sweaty. And a little time to go out and suffer. That’s pretty much it. 

I don’t run with headphones or music or anything too fancy, so maybe I’m not the best person to write up a gift guide full of stuff, but…if you want to get the runner in your life something that goes beyond boring socks (actually, socks are always welcome for runners), here are a few unique and useful ideas for any of your friends that are constantly talking about training or their next race.

Of course, you could always get them a nice, soft unique new running t-shirt 🙂


To Commemorate a Big Race

We’ve had an annual wall calendar from J.Hill design in our house for years, so I can attest to the design and quality of the products. They’ve recently completely spun off the running-related products to a separate site, Run Ink. All the better to showcase these fun, unique and personalized course map posters to commemorate a big race.

Any runner knows two things about their sport. First, they will know and recite their PR’s for any distance faster than their own social security number and second, they will accumulate more race bibs and medals than they know what to do with. There are plenty of options out there to collect medals or frame bibs, but I really like this combination option available on Esty. Stylish and functional, any runner wouldn’t mind hanging this up to remember and to motivate.


To Refuel

By far one of my favorite cookbooks, any cookbook, not just for runner or athletes, are the pair of Run Fast. Eat Slow books put out by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecki in the last few years. But these are geared toward runners with recipes targeted to help you fuel up for a tough workout or recover properly to get to ready for the next one. The cookbooks also include sections on pantry staples, injury prevention, specific pitfalls that might befall runners, and more. It’s become a great resource in our kitchen to eat healthy, delicious and smart.

Like everything else, you can get a subscription box in the mail for running swag. Each month, StrideBox will send a curated box of running nutrition, accessories, and essentials to fuel your training sessions, workouts, and races

Every runner knows they need to eat properly to maximize their training ,but it’s entirely possible, especially if they are marathon or ultra training, that the runner in your life is too exhausted to cook for themselves. You could give them the gift of healthy meals, ready and prepped to cook with Hello Fresh.

A nice budget option would be to look local and get them a gift certificate for a recovery smoothie from their favorite shop.


To Stay Safe

Here in the Northeast, we’ve had a rash of scary and tragic episodes in the last year where female runners were attacked. For the runner that often runs alone, a personal alarm, like the Run Angel might give them some peace of mind. You can find some more budget-friendly alternatives, as well, on Amazon.

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As an athlete with a chronic disease, if I’m involved in an emergency or some other hazardous situation, it’s imperative that responders know about my condition, who to call, and how to respond. Road ID can provide all those essential details. I wear one whenever I run, bike, or race.

With daylight savings kicking in, if you know a runner that likes to train after work or in the evening making sure they can be seen easily should be a key part of their training plan. There are plenty of different options to add lights to their wardrobe (on their feet or on their head), reflective gear, or hands-free phone options to keep them as safe as possible.


To Motivate

If you know a runner that’s been itching to try a certain race, why not go ahead and give them the ultimate runner gift: a race entry.

I like reading about running and endurance events almost as much as I like doing them. One of the best and must useful books I read in the past year was Deena Kastor’s Let Your Mind Run. It’s a combination memoir and running self-help book. I’ve found myself constantly going back to it and trying to apply some of the positivity to my own running.

Here are some other books in my running library:

Endure by Alex Hutchinson – For running geek and science nerd

How Bad Do You Want It – For the athlete looking to sharpen their mental game

The Brave Athlete – For the athlete looking for some mental confidence

Running with the Buffaloes – For the athlete wondering what it takes to run at a top D1 program

The Perfect Mile – For the athlete that runs the mile and likes their running history


To Recover

You know what separates a lot of pros from weekend warriors? Talent? Nope. It’s the amount of massages they get! Perhaps the ultimate gift, at least for someone that struggles to splurge on themselves, is a massage gift certificate to loosen up those tight spots.

If a massage by a professional isn’t in the cards, there are plenty of self-massage gifts that will provide a lot of self-torture for a runner, but ultimately does a lot of good: therapy balls or a stick massager are good choices as they can be packed easily for races.

Another good recovery tool is cold. Ice shin wraps or the ice roller ball are both great options that go beyond a bag of peas or the standard ice pack.

If all else fails, just taking it easy and soaking in a hot tub with mineral salts can do wonders for recovery.



For all the time they spend suffering and beating themselves up in the name of training, most runners are terrible at self-care. They will try to run through any aches and pains.

Do them a favor and get them something from this list that will help them get more out of their training and show that even though you may have a glazed look in your eyes when they are rambling about their morning run, you really are paying attention.

Sort of.