Gift Guide for your Favorite Runner: 2021

With the holidays around the corner, you may be wondering what to get that special runner in your life. I’m putting out this info early because of current supply chain issues that continue due to the pandemic, so this way, you’ll be prepared! Whether it’s the latest gadget, new gear, or stocking stuffers, I’ve gathered what I think are the best ideas for your favorite runner.

Big Gifts:

Running smart watch

It’s always wonderful to receive a new watch! This is a big gift, as they tend to get pricey. But even for your short distance runners, the ability to track your pace and distance is super helpful when training for races, while also being able to grow with your runner as they tackle longer distances. Why would you want one of these vs. your Apple watch? One: battery life. Make sure you research battery life times. For slower marathoners and ultramarathoners, extended battery life is so helpful! Two: The Garmin app. It tracks your activities, shoe life, etc. My recommendations? I love Garmin products, and currently run with a Forerunner 230. But if I were to choose an upgrade, it would be one of these:

  • Garmin Forerunner 45
    • A great entry-level smart watch that monitors heart rate and more, it has up to 13 hours of battery life in GPS mode. Retails $199.99.
  • Garmin Forerunner 945
    • For a few hundred dollars more, you can add music, performance metrics, and color maps navigation, all with 10 hours of battery life in music with GPS mode, and even longer without music. Retails $599.99.
This is my running smart watch: the Garmin 230.


For running, Aftershokz open ear headphones are the ultimate accessory for comfort and safety while playing music on a run. They conduct sound through bone, so you don’t have to keep a bud in your ears. This means you can hear your surroundings on your run and don’t have to constantly reposition earbuds that have bounced out of place. These are currently on my personal wish list. Prices range from $80 – 160. 

Running Shoes

Shoes are very specific to each runner, and one must really try on and see what suits them best. If this is what you really want to gift your runner, I would suggest getting them a gift card to your local running store. Most running shoes are in the $125-150 range. In Richmond, I would suggest Lucky Road Run Shop. The owners are fabulous, and I always get great customer service. 

My shoe love: the Hoka Clifton.
A variety of recovery tools, including rollers, a Hypervolt massage gun, and a lacrosse ball.

Recovery Tools

  • Massage gun

This latest fad is actually a good one, but to be effective, you have to invest. I personally use a Hypervolt and love it! With multiple attachments and speeds, your runner can work out all of the muscle aches and pains that their hard work has brought upon them. Expect to pay at least $100 for a quality product. 

  • Recovery Shoes

Oofos are my go-to for these, and this brand is loved fairly universally among my friends who run. They are so comfortable, especially after you have run long miles! Oofos makes flip-flops, slides, clogs, and closed toe shoes. I love the flip-flops style for summer, but the slides are great for after winter runs when I want to keep my socks on! I tend to keep mine in my car, and change into them after my run for any post-run shenanigans. If your runner doesn’t know about these, they will thank you for this gift! Prices vary, from $60-130. 

Mid-price gifts:

Safety gear

  • Running vest

I love the Noxear Tracer2 light vest for safe running at night. I definitely feel seen in my original battery powered vest! The best way to avoid crashing with a car is to be seen. With multiple light settings, it’s bright and obvious enough that drivers take notice and move over. This new version is rechargeable, not battery powered. 20 hours of run time with each charge, and it’s waterproof. Currently on sale for $49.95.

Nothing says you care about the safety of your runner more than this piece of gear! With vital information and a variety of styles, you can help your runner have an extra layer of reassurance that if something were to happen to them on a run, emergency responders would know who to contact. 


The simplest way to carry extra nutrition, your phone, and car key is with this zippered pouch worn around your waist. A runner’s stretchy fanny pack, you could say. Even though I typically run with a hydration belt, for really big, self-supported runs, I also need this to keep extra items with me. Even with my phone, it doesn’t bounce if I keep the pouch at the small of my back. With lots of pretty colors and a variety of sizes, you are certain to find one to suit your runner! These are also fantastic for wearing to concerts or festivals instead of carrying a bag. 

Handheld water bottle

These are great for short training runs, and truthfully need upgrading every year or two. So chances are, your runner is due for a new one. Nathan makes great handheld bottles that are ergonomic to reduce the effort to carry these. The newer versions no longer have a pouch for your phone, since phones are now so large! This makes the spibelt kinda necessary…

Running hats/visors

These are almost essential for keeping the sun, hair, and rain out of your eyes during your run. I love a visor, and both Headsweats and Boco Gear make wonderful elastic back versions that don’t slip and are super comfortable. Both companies make a variety of running hats sure to please any runner!

At the beach in my favorite Headsweats visor and Goodr sunglasses!


I absolutely love the Goodr brand sunglasses for running. These are all polarized to reduce glare, and are super affordable for the quality, retailing $25-35. They don’t bounce, just as the company claims! With so many fun designs and funny names, you are sure to find a great pair to fit the personality of your runner! Tips? Look for mirrored lenses, as they deflect light better. 

Commemorative race items

Did your runner finish a big marathon recently? How about some wall art to commemorate their finish! Or a wine glass with a map of the course? Esty is full of fun items to remember their journey! Or head to the website of their recent race to purchase unique, official finisher items. 

Medal holder

Especially for someone who may be new to racing, this is a nice gift. I’m kind of cheap, and I simply put up a curtain rod to hold mine. But the pre-made ones are lovely! Check out Gone for a Run for some great choices!

My medal display

Stocking Stuffers/Small items: 

  • Running socks

I’m currently a fan of Balegas myself, but my best friend loves Feetures socks. Expect to pay around $15 for a good pair. Local running stores are a good source for these, as is REI.

  • Anti-chafing products

Distance runners can always use this! Body Glide and Sport Shield are my favorites right now. 

  • Lip balm

Distance runners tend to get chapped lips after hours exposed to the elements and on their feet! Lip balm is always a great surprise in your stocking!

  • Epsom salts

I’m a big fan of Dr. Teals. I personally prefer an epsom salt bath to an ice bath after long runs, and there are so many scents to choose from! The magnesium really helps with muscle recovery.

  • Lacrosse ball

These are great for trigger point release for muscle recovery. Most sporting goods stores have these in multiple fun colors.

  • Foam roller

Big box stores like Walmart and Target carry these, but you can get really nice ones at places like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Ross for much less.

  • Running gloves

With cold weather arriving soon, gloves with mitten covers become essential in sub-freezing temperatures! If your runner is crazy enough to train year round, they will love you for a pair like these from Saucony! I’ve found similar styles at stores like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s for more than half off the price of these, though! Look for these with all the fitness gear. 

  • Books

Sometimes a great book about running or by a runner is the best gift of all! It will give us something to read while traveling to the next big race! Some favorites of mine: 

One of my favorites!

Notice that I didn’t recommend running clothes. I think clothes are pretty personal for an experienced runner. First of all, running shirts aren’t really necessary as gifts. If your runner participates in lots of races, they will have tons already from races, including technical tanks! We all develop specific preferences for gear, especially shorts or running tights. If you really want to gift running clothes and you don’t know what they really love, I can suggest a couple of brands. Personally, I run in a lot of Old Navy active gear. For the price, it’s a great value for performance, and great for both new and experienced runners. I run in both their bike shorts and capris. I also love Nike running gear, but I’m a bargain hunter, so only buy these items on clearance or from outlet stores. My favorite winter gear is from Nike. But in general, you really can’t go wrong with either of these brands. There so many brands with a wide range of price points and quality in gear, and your runner will not be offended if you ask them who makes their favorite! Choose wisely! 

Happy shopping!


I hope this has given you some ideas for holiday gift giving for that special runner in your life this year! 

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness, speaking about the human experience, and in fighting for social justice. Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Boco Gear, SaltStick, SPIbelt, Goodr, Noxgear, and Switch4Good.

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