If you’re looking for gift ideas for someone in your life who you know is a runner, the hardest part is over. You know what they like! Now you just have to choose the perfect gift from all the buying guides the internet has to offer. You can rest easy knowing that runners are annoyingly obsessed with their hobby and quite frankly, they’ll love anything you get them that is tangentially related to it. Below, we’ve curated the best gifts for runners into four categories: recovery, shoe & apparel, accessory, and book gifts. Scroll away, or just call it a day and get your runner a Theragun.
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Recovery Gifts for Runners
The CBD pick: Lord Jones High CBD Formula Bath Salts
I’m not going to lie to you: I have not tried these, or any CBD bath salts, before. But of all the CBD products I’ve seen touted across Instagram, this one from Lord Jones intrigued me the most. A combination of CBD, Epsom and Himalayan salts, essential oils and real flower petals, these bath salts should help soothe sore muscles after a long run. Even if the benefits of CBD are highly exaggerated, we’ll take a box of moderately overpriced, nicely-packaged Epsom salts any day.
The elevated basic: Trigger Point GRID Foam Roller
Fact: Everyone loves a foam roller, even toddlers think they’re fun to play with. It’s one of the most inexpensive recovery tools out there for runners, and the only thing runners like more than running is recovering. This one by Trigger Point features raised surfaces to get deep into the muscle tissue, and at just over a foot long, is easy to pack for weekend races.
The gateway to high-tech recovery: Theragun Prime
Personal massage guns have become quite common in the last few years, and the Theragun Prime is my percussive device of choice. If you’re just getting into high-tech recovery gear, it’s a great gateway product to get your body used to the literal power of a massage gun. Therabody makes two models that are more complicated and expensive—the Pro and the Elite—but the Prime is more than enough for non-elite runners. It comes with four attachments, including a thumb-shaped one that targets trigger points and the lower back.
The serious recovery gear: Therabody RecoveryAir
If the runner in your life is looking for next-level recovery toys, and you can afford them, consider Therabody’s RecoveryAir compression boots. These sleeves inflate and deflate with air to increase circulation in your legs, which in turn reduces muscle soreness and quickens recovery. The changes in pressure simulate the effects of a massage, and at $975, you could argue that they’re cheaper than a daily massage.
The chic compression socks: Comrad Knee-High Compression Socks
Compression socks are as low-tech as foam rollers but are pretty darn effective in keeping the blood literally flowing and, as such, boosting recovery. My favorite pair is from everyone’s favorite, and possibly the only, direct-to-consumer compression sock brand, Comrad. Comrad’s high-quality graduated compression socks are tighter at the ankle and slightly looser through the calf to promote healthy blood flow and prevent lactic acid buildup. They’re designed for frequent travelers and are a bit more sophisticated-looking than the neon and funky patterned compression socks you might find at a running store.
The portable massager: Roll Recovery R8 Massage Roller
This massage roller looks a bit like a torture device, which honestly, is kind a good sign for a deep tissue massager that can work out all the knots in your legs. The patented design is essentially a compact foam roller powered by advanced spring technology. It can be used on the IT-bands, quads, hamstrings, calves, shins, glutes, and arms, self-adjusting for various muscle sizes.
Shoes & Apparel Gifts for Runners
The comfort-focused socks: Balega Blister Resist Socks
I guarantee that under every Christmas tree is at least one pair of socks. In terms of running gifts, Balega socks are the way to go. Almost all of their design features are meant to prevent blisters: a contoured fit that prevents rubbing, a deep pocket heel, and moisture-wicking panels. Plus, they come in fun colors.
The fashion trail shoe: Salomon XT-6
Gosh, if someone were to give me a pair of the black-and-red Salomon XT-6 racing shoes, I would love them forever. The outdoor brand’s trail sneakers have somehow become more fashion-focused, if only in color, and I’m here for it. The function and aesthetics of the XT-6 racing is appealing combination for style-conscious trail runners.
The timeless running tights: Lululemon Swift Speed High-Rise Tight
I’ve probably gotten a pair of running tights for Christmas since I was 14, and you know what, it’s a gift that never gets old. Lululemon is slowly staking its claim in running clothes (it now sponsors pro runners Nikki Hiltz and Colleen Quigley), so don’t confuse these training tights with regular old athleisure. Designed for running, the Swift Speed tights have both side and back pockets and reflective details for early morning winter running.
The X Factor Shoe: Nike Alphafly Next%
There are running shoes we buy for ourselves, and there are running shoes that we give to other people. The Nike Alphafly Next% falls firmly in both of those camps, making it an excellent gear gift for your favorite runner. The super shoe is designed for long distance racing and have a notoriously short shelf life, so even if the recipient already has a pair, know that a brand new pair of Alphaflys will never be returned to sender.
The Olympic gear: Nike Team Kenya Raincoat
The Tokyo Olympics have come and gone, but the images of two-time marathon gold medalist and all-around G.O.A.T. Eliud Kipchoge in his country’s tracksuit live forever. This water-resistant windbreaker from Nike celebrates Kenya’s Olympic team, giving its wearer a little bit of that Kipchoge energy.
Accessory Gifts for Runners
The GPS watch that gets it done: Garmin Forerunner 45
At a certain point in a runner’s life, she realizes she’s invested in the sport enough to want to improve her pace and keep track of her heart rate and all that fun stuff. Get that runner a Garmin! If she doesn’t need anything too fancy, just a good ol’ Garmin Forerunner 45 will do. This watch features a wrist-based heart rate monitor and a built-in GPS to track where you run, along with pace and intervals.
The status running hat: Ciele GoCap
A great gift for the runner who like bright colors and anything French is a Ciele running hat. Founded by two design-focused French-Canadians, Ciele makes unbelievably lightweight and breathable hats in fun color-blocking patterns. I’m obsessed with my Ciele bucket hat, but you can’t go wrong with the signature GoCap. (More colors are available at the link below.)
The fanny pack so sleek, they call it a belt: Salomon Pulse
This Salomon running belt fits snugly around the waist, doesn’t bounce when you move, and has enough storage space to hold your phone, nutrition gels, and a small water bottle. And for the trailrunners in the crowd, it has straps for hiking poles. If your sister told you she wants a running fanny pack for her birthday, this is the one to get.
The runner’s briefcase: Nike Run Backpack
There’s honestly no great way to run with a laptop, but if you have to do the runmute with your personal computer, you need a great backpack. Enter the Nike Run Backpack, which features a stabilized design that helps reduce movement while you run. A chest and waist strap help keep the backpack in place, and those who are taking the long way to work will find the hydration tube clip and internal pocket for a hydration bladder useful.
The “It” wearable: Oura Ring
If you love your runner a lot, get them an Oura Ring already. Everyone from Eliud Kipchoge to my moderately-active husband has this light activity tracker that gamifies sleep. It combines factors like resting heart rate, body temperature, nighttime movement, and respiratory rate to give you a nightly sleep score, as well as a readiness score to prepare you for the next day’s activity.
Book Gifts for Runners
The science-y nonfiction read: Endure by Alex Hutchinson
Many running nerds will recognize Alex Hutchinson’s name from his research-heavy columns in Outside and Runner’s World. His 2018 book is a fascinating deep-dive into the science behind endurance. He explores physical limits to endurance like pain, muscle, temperature, thirst, and fuel, as well as mental ones, like just how much control your brain has over many miles and how fast you can run. It’s a must-read for anyone who’s fascinated by what makes elite athletes so superhuman.
The latest cookbook: Rise & Run by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky
The geniuses behind the Run Fast, Eat Slow and Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow released a breakfast-focused cookbook in 2021 called Rise & Run. This collection of recipes focuses on the most important meal of the day: breakfast. It also includes recipes for recovery drinks, post-run snacks, and not one, not two, but 24 (!!) different variations of their infamous Superhero Muffins.
The ultra manual for beginners: Running Your First Ultra by Krissy Moehl
The ultra-curious runner in your life absolutely needs this guidebook written by one of the female pioneers of trail running, Krissy Moehl. At the core of the book are training plans and workouts for popular ultra-distances (50k, 50 mile, 100k, 100 mile), but peppered throughout are helpful tidbits from Moehl, like how to “train your brain” and aid station etiquette.
The memoir: Bravey by Alexi Pappas
Alexi Pappas is a filmmaker-slash-runner who ran for Greece in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Her memoir, Bravey, is a raw, moving story of the ups and downs she’s endured, including her mom committing suicide when Pappas was four years old. She’s a relatable narrator who makes you feel inspired to go for a run.
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