If you live with a runner, you could be forgiven for thinking that they already have all they could possibly need. Their multiple pairs of shoes are piled at the front door, the laundry basket is overflowing, medals hang off doors and gadgets are always on charge. You are right: runners probably don’t “need” anything else, especially those who’ve been running for quite a while.
So, this year, why not choose something that could help the runner in your life get more out of running, without adding to their clutter in your home?
The big spender
If you really want to impress a runner who has a big race next year, the ultimate gift would be a night in a fancy hotel close to their race’s finish-line. While everyone else hobbles back home and flakes out on the couch, they can be relaxing in the jacuzzi, thinking about what delights they will order on room service to celebrate their success.
And if you expect to spend the next year having to listen to the mile-by-mile analysis of each of their training runs, you will also deserve the night away by the time race day comes around. It can be something wonderful for you both to look forward to.
If your budget is one at the other end of the scale, aim for practicality than novelty in the Christmas stocking. For fans of parkrun, you can order a wristband with their barcode embedded so it’s always at hand when they need it. If there is always a panic looking for safety pins for race numbers, consider reusable magnetic race pins which attach the race numbers to t-shirts. To get rid of some of the clutter, choose a wall medal hanger that can nicely display all medals without having to listen to them jangle every time you close a door.
Not quite practical, but very personal and compact: look up metal running shoe tags. You can engrave a short motivational mantra on the little tags which they will see every time they tie their shoelaces.
There is a fine balance between looking forward to the future and dreading an upcoming race
Treat their feet
After a long year in running shoes, a voucher for a medical pedicure would make a great gift to tackle the hard skin, calluses and general wear and tear that have built up over the season.
With a smaller budget, why not create a little hamper to give their feet a Christmas treat.? A box of Epsom salts for a good soak, a nourishing foot cream and an exfoliator would be a nice mix. Every runner could do with more mobility in their feet, so add in a mini massage ball which they can use when sitting at the desk or watching Christmas movies.
Support a local business
In every community, there are groups and businesses that support runners. You might be lucky enough to have a local shop for runners that sells shoes, clothing and all the gadgets they dream about. But look beyond the gear, too. From podiatrists to physiotherapists, running coaches to cafes, being a runner can be an expensive hobby.
They might frequent a Pilates or yoga studio, or be a member of a running club that is a huge part of their social life. Maybe a voucher is not the most imaginative of presents, but choosing one for a favourite haunt of a runner is always a safe bet. If you have the option to support a local running business, please do so.
If performance isn’t top priority for your runner, they might get more out of a gift that helps with motivation
Invest in their future
If there is a race that they enjoy every year, why not buy them a ticket for it now? We all need something to look forward to. Don’t go crazy, though, and sign them up to something beyond their capabilities. There is a fine balance between looking forward to the future and dreading an upcoming race. To help them reach their performance goals, you could sign them up for a running masterclass or a training programme.
This is a great way to get an insight into new training techniques and technology without having to invest too much. From sports psychology to breathwork, running form to V02 testing there are many ways to delve deeper into running performance.
Get them out the door
If performance isn’t top priority for your runner, they might get more out of a gift that helps with motivation. Many a runner I know spends more time drinking coffee after a Saturday morning run than actually running. It’s one of my favourite hobbies. It’s the post-run buzz that gets us out the door sometimes, not always the run itself. A homemade boot-of-the-car runner’s hamper could be just the thing for this type of social runner. What about a waterproof picnic mat, a flask and maybe even a selection of snacks that they can look forward to once their run is over?
Add in an inspiring running book or a small running journal or diary that they can enjoy as they bask in their post-run glory.
Not sure what to give?
Consider what your runner talks about all the time. What gives them joy in running, and what tends to hold them back? Where are they planning on being this time next year? Let your gift be something practical that they will use to spur them on to feel even better running.
If you can put yourself in their running shoes for a moment, you might see what they really could benefit from in 2024. Because, as you probably know by now, the more they are enjoying their running, the more everyone else in your home benefits too.
- Mary Jennings is founder and running coach with ForgetTheGym.ie. Her book Get Running, published by Gill Books, is suitable for runners of all levels