The typical conversation you have with that special runner in your life:
"What do you want for Christmas?"
"Oh I don't know, some running stuff,.."
"What kind of running stuff?"
At this point it goes one of two ways.
Either: "Maybe the newest model of X running shoes would be nice or these new headphones..."
Or: "Uuuuuh....I don't know. Running...stuff..."
I'll admit it...I'm definitely the second option.
You ask me what I want: no freaking idea.
You ask me about the best running sock for you during the winter months in Minnesota...omg, I have a billion different recommendations based on what material you like, the types of seams you prefer, what you're looking for, etc..
(Yup, you're going to directly benefit from that down below. Someone needs to set up a sock intervention for me...)
I'm also a runner on a budget.
This results in me spending a crazy amount of time researching, reading reviews, and comparing different products, because I want something that WORKS!
So putting together this 2021 Runner's Holiday Gift Guide, you're getting the best of my search results. You're getting products I've already purchased AND re-purchased, or am actively planning on buying myself. Because I know the reputations of these companies and I've put their products to the test.
What you'll find in this Runner's Holiday Gift Guide: affordable, very practical gifts, suitable for both beginner and advanced runners, that are guaranteed to last a lifetime and become a running staple.
Sorry, this isn't the luxury or bougie edition.
I sorta leave that to Runner's World, honestly.
Because there's a lot of us "normal people" runners that enjoy good, solid, reliable basics. Because contrary to the glitz and the glamour, good basics aren't boring!
Yada, Yada, BLAH BLAH BLAH...enough of the soapbox. Here's your GIFT GUIDE!
Nuun hydration tablets
($7-$32; price varies buying singles vs variety packs)
I only just started using these this past summer and all I could think was "why did I wait so long??" I could tell a huge difference with my tolerance to hot temps or longer runs based on whether I used these or not. I felt less sluggish, clear headed, alert, and capable of making quick decisions on the trails.
Because sports nutrition is cool. When our brain and body work together in an optimal state because BOTH are fueled, magical things happen-like feeling better overall on your run.
So if you're guilty of under-fueling, or you're a salty sweater, or you just struggle drinking boring water, you'll love these fizzy little guys. I highly recommend the ones specifically for sport, NOT the vitamin ones. The sports ones have more of the electrolytes that you need. Also, orange is freaking delicious.
($2.30-$24; price varies buying singles vs. variety packs)
I didn't think I'd like these as much as I did.
My personal food philosophy is to eat the energy/fuel that I need from real food.
However, these little gummies really delivered.
I'd actually pop a few before a long trail run that landed between meal times where eating wasn't the best option.
These did the trick. It wasn't necessarily the caffeine in some of them, but the overall supply of readily-accessible energy they provided to my body. Again, I noticed even
before short, hot runs these consistently helped me feel less sluggish and put a little more pep in my step. Also, these were very kind to my sensitive stomach and gut. If you know, you know.
Bad Athletics Protein Powder and Supplements
Avg: $60 a tub (but I have NEVER payed full price.)
THE SCOOP: take the 10% email promo + an additional 10% off with code BADMARIE (yes, I am an ambassador). AND! just scroll through the product bundles because you'll see specific protein flavors or mini protein sample sizes on sale!
Whoa, whoa, whoa there runner! Don't go skipping this one! I see you...
It drives me BONKERS when runners don't get enough protein. Carbs are king for long distance athletes, I get it! But don't forget...sports nutrition is cool.
Carbs = muscle fuel
Protein = muscle building blocks.
You can't build stronger muscles without a good supply of building blocks.
Just a few reasons I seriously LOVE this protein powder:
So many protein powders are high in BOTH carbs and protein. And that's not a bad thing, but it depends where your food + fitness philosophy lies. (another topic for another day). With this protein powder, I get to EAT MY CARBS. I'm greedy like that. Gimme a plate of pasta or mashed potatoes over a carb-filled protein shake, am I right?
This protein powder is 20g of crazy-delicious, lean protein, 3g of carbs and is designed to mix into any liquid and can be used for baking and cooking! Hello to protein-packed pancakes, muffins, cookies, cake, etc… How can you go wrong with flavors like coconut, dark chocolate, salted caramel, peanut butter, mocha, strawberry, and vanilla!? Also, they're designed to mix and match!
Did I mentioned this? The company and and it's growing community is Woman founded; women owned; woman operated.
And yes, the dude runners in your life can have this magical protein powder too. They just might need an extra scoop to reach the male recommended protein serving.
Avg: $10-$34 (depending on bundles, flavors etc)
If you are a loooong distance runner or just a runner in very hot, humid climates, you probably know how important these are.
As you sweat, you lose salts or electrolytes. Electrolytes are incredibly important for nerve conduction, correct muscle firing, etc. In other words, when you sweat a ton, your muscles can cramp up on you.
Not a fun time.
These are a way to prevent that and help you stay hydrated.
I haven't personally used these, but I've seen other runners rave about them! I plan on giving them a try actually during the colder months while skiing to hopefully fend off some muscle cramping.
Gift Card to Your local running store
Yes, this counts as an option!
Because sometimes, that runner in your life doesn't even know what they want until they see it! And either way, they'll be eternally grateful that you helped them purchase they're next favorite pair of running shoes.
But if you wanted to get more personal, see if your running local store allows you to gift a race registration or apply a gift card to a race registration. Because those longer distances can get pricy.
Oh, and bonus points if you put the gift card in an empty running shoe box, wrap the box, and put that under the tree ;)
Goodr Running Sunglasses (<--click the link)
Avg: $25 (however price can vary based on customization option)
You guys…these are dope.
Like indestructo-super-duper running, but still-cool sunglasses-dope. And the ability to customize them-freaking incredible! They're light, comfortable, no slip, and you choose how much you want the lens polarized and what color. With all that ability to fine tune and customize these, I guarantee you'll be able to find a color or a pattern (or both!) that the runner-in-your-life (or yourself, no judgement here) will love!
Speaking of which..imma go snag a pair.
Did I mention they also have a "big head" version? I'm not kidding, these guys thought of everything.
Fitletic Running Belt: Double Pouch
I LOVE this belt. I also put it's #1 competitor down below.
But hear me out on this one…
2 separate pouches and compartments.
The phone goes in one. The keys and energy chews go in the other. Nothing gets scratched.
Water resistant so your electronics don't get soaked with sweat.
Reliable sealed zippers so nothing accidently falls out while you're on the trails or on the road.
And...its adjustable. I know that sounds dumb.
But here's why I like it.
It expands and shrinks with you. Because our bodies fluctuate…especially when you're on a run! I don't like having a lot of pressure pressing on my stomach while I run so I can adjust the tightness of the belt as needed and it snaps securely closed with the clip. Also, because of how it sits in the low of my back where I wear it, it never interferes with my form and I can hardly feel it.
On the FLIP-side... (I'm so punny)
Other people with LOVE this one because it's overall smoother and it's constructed as a single loop.
Some versions have a different numbers of pockets where you can stash a key or two. But the main attraction, is your phone will easily fit in it too! But for me, there's nothing to "lock it (my valuables) in" like a zipper.
That might not worry you; that's fine!
Some runners swear by this running belt and love how it feels while they're running. If that's you, than you rock this belt and don't let me tell you otherwise!
The downside I have witnessed with this particular one though, is that if you are losing weight, you might find the belt is becomes too big and you have to purchase a new one. The opposite is true, especially for the pregnant mama runners out there. This belt might become too small as some point. Nothing negative about the belt! Just pointing out some specific cases I've seen.
Jabra Elite Active earbuds series (Jabra Elite Active 75t)
This particular pair: $179.99
("lower" models: $99)
I know, I know. I promised affordable gift ideas, but these earbuds opened up a whole new world of long distance running for me.
These were also another gift from the hubby.
Which I adamantly fought.
"I don't need fancy earbuds! These skullcandy ones are fine!"
I have never been so happy to be so wrong.
These are incredibly comfortable. The sound quality is fantastic. I love the noise cancelling feature for when I'm in the gym and the hear-through option for safety when I'm running on roads or on the trails.
The mic is also a nice touch since it allows me to take a quick phone call on my longer runs.
(By the way, these are the little blue dots you guys see stuffed in my ears during IG lives.)
Did I mention these are water resistance? I've accidently showered with them and they're no worse for wear. I'm keeping these till they straight up die.
Full disclosureI had a pair of these and lost them and now I NEED to replace them! In the winter months when roads and sidewalks are questionable, these are a MUST.
If nothing else, they give you a little extra confidence and peace of mind when you're running on snow (and hopefully not ice).
You can immediately tell the difference in the grip (traction) you feel under your feet.
Pro tip: depending on the style you get, you almost want to be running on the snow vs. cleared pavement. So give yourself the time to go with the learning curve. They take a couple runs to get used to, but I think they're totally worth the investment (especially if it means keeping you injury free!)
Additional safety tip: I picked these specific ones because they have wire meshing towards the back of your foot for general gripping AND essentially mini spikes at the front of the foot. Personal preference, but I think this arrangement gives you the best feedback from ground underneath you in addition to best traction. (I've run with a version that was all spikes front and back, and it was not comfortable and I felt like I was sliding around on pavement. Learn from my mistakes!)
(I think I need an intervention. If you are not a sock enthusiast, please feel free to skip this section.)
Balega running socks
Avg price: $15-$20/pair
I don't know why I don't have more of these. I have 1 pair from highschool XC (yes it's ancient) that I have treasured.
This performance sock is SO light. It still has this nice feeling of compression and support around your arch and I love the little tabbie in the back that helps keep shoe chafing and blisters away. These are my go-to warm/hot weather sock.
Also, the bright colors…they just turn your mood around ASAP.
I don't know how, but they do.
These are a MUST for runners in cold climates!
These socks...let me tell you.
They last for-freaking-ever.
I have never regretted wearing these socks on a winter run. I have regretted NOT wearing these for a winter run!
They reliably keep your feet warm but dry as they wick away any damp sweat. If you're like me and only have a couple pair, they do dry overnight so they're ready for tomorrow's adventures. I have pairs that are 10 years old (not very stylish) but without a hole in sight.
CEP Long Compression Running Socks
Avg:$50-60 a pair
So you know how sometimes you're supposed to throw out gifts from an old ex? Yea sooo….this birthday gift is definitely not one of those.
These Compression socks provide 20-30mmHg of compression and are one of the reasons I look forward to cooler running temps every year.
Because I'll admit, the pair I have get pretty toasty in the summer.
I'm sure if you're looking, you can find:
socks more appropriate/lighter/more breathable for higher temps
OR go with a calf sleeve rather than a sock so you have compression without the insulation.
What keeps this socks so warm is the cushioning around the toes and front half of the foot. It's like having a pillow envelope your toes.
Also, these socks have lasted forever!
With any compression, overtime, the amount of compression will naturally decrease. For runners who use these for the recovery benefits or during training, I don't think it's that big of deal. You're still benefiting from the range of 20 to 30 mmHg. The specific and higher compression grades are more for medical conditions rather athletic performance.
Also, I personally like the colors of CEP socks because of the option for neon. I'm religious about being visible to oncoming cars especially in dreary, snowy, dark MI winters so these fit my personal agenda.
Bombas (<--click here!)
Avg: $34-$45 a pair
This is a sock company I have ALWAYS wanted to try out. And in full honesty, I still have not, but I have heard amazing things from other runners.
I would be remiss in mentioning them because they also have performance compression socks at 20-30mmHg at a lower price point.
You can get 1 pair for roughly $34 OR you can get a 3 pack (more bang for your buck) for $102.
Bonus feature which I do NOT believe CEP has: Bombas also has compression socks in merino wool, something that might interest cold climate runners.
"The Stick" (more affectionately known as the marshmallow mobility stick)
Full Size: $32-$42 // Travel size: $27.45
I've had my (marshmallow) stick since high school.
Yep. It's ancient.
It's gone to a million track and cross country meets.
And it's still going strong!
Does a foam roller and a stick do the same thing?
Yes and no.
A foam roller you can sit on and apply more pressure.
But the stick is portable and easier to travel with, especially if you get the travel size! I find the stick a more pleasant and effective experience because I can easily and specifically target a stubborn spot. (Meaning, you don't have to do all sorts of weird straddling over a foam roller.)
Support Local Business: Gift Card Ideas!
Maybe your runner doesn't need any more fancy running gear. Maybe they just need need a way to recover from all those miles and get some extra relaxation in the process.
Gift cards are a great way to gift a massage to help facilitate soft tissue healing, increase blood flow to tired muscles to speed recovery, and help the body flush out lactic acid. Check out your local spas, salons, or even yoga studios!
Pro Tip from a health care professional who uses massage and soft tissue techniques occasionally as a treatment option: I would not automatically jump to a "sports" or "deep tissue" massage unless you KNOW this runner likes this kind of massage.
And here's why.
A deep tissue massage can be beneficial. However it typically includes going deeper with more pressure into the muscle belly. Not everyone is comfortable with that kind of intense pressure. And, deeper pressure doesn't necessarily mean better results.
It just depends on the runner's preference.
And while you're at it, you could even purchase some yoga lessons for them so that runner in your life finally gets in their mobility work and cross training.
Dr. Teals Epsom Salts
Ok, here me out.
Because by now, you've realized there's no fancy thera-gun on this gift guide.
(I have mixed feelings about those, but that's a story for another time).
However, I have personally benefited from a good, hot soak on multiple occasions, either for run or injury recovery purposes or straight up stress relief.
And, they smell amazing.
And their affordable.
Not to mention, better for the environment than bath bombs (which can also leave weird rainbow rings in your tub…not a fan.)
Bonus points: find a way to cram this into your runner's stocking. It'll be sorta heavy and they'll have no idea why their stocking smells incredible.
Running Training Log + Journal
Avg: $18.93-$44 depending on update vs edition
Running logs can be a love-hate relationship.
This one written by pro-runner Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan-Dumas completely changed that for me.
During a very busy and unhappy season in my life, a running friend gifted this to me.
What a God-send.
The prompts and structure of this journal invited me to take care of my body and my mind through running rather than feeling guilty for not running fast enough, far enough, etc.
It gave me the space to dream and breathe, while also allowing me the opportunity to ground myself and create an objective log of exactly where my mental and physical health were at.
The beautiful part about this log, is there is enough structure to objectively track your runs, note your improvements, plan out your monthly training if that's your thing, yet still have the flexibility within these prompts and grids that you can use it how you want to.
This is a MUST HAVE!
Run Fast. Eat Slow
A cook book for runners by the amazing elite Shalane Flanagen, herself??!
Say no more.
I own this one courtesy of (again), the now-husband and adamant non-runner.
Why tell you this?
Because he loves the recipes in here too.
We've adopted at least 2 dinner staples from here that can be whipped up inside of 40 mins like the Burst Cherry Tomatoe Linguine with Shrimp and the Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Chicken.
Plus, there's some tasty snacks like the famous superhero muffins
Omg...I just found a recipe for pecan butter chocolate truffles with sea salt on page 191. Oh dear...
The Point: if you've got some picky eaters in your house, this might be a time-saver for you and a sure-fire way to make sure your family is eating healthy.
Not to mention, you know you're going to be getting the necessary nutrition to fuel your next long run. Win-Win!
YOU DID IT!
You made to the end of your 2021 Running Holiday Gift Guide!
I can't wait for you to explore the items above and hear your thoughts on them.
So leave me a comment down below: what do you think? Do you love these ideas? Did I miss an absolutely AMAZING one that the whole world needs to know about? I can't wait to read them!
Till then, run strong and dare to train differently,
Dr. Marie Whitt // @dr.whitt.fit
P.S. To be transparent: I may receive a very, very small commission from Amazon if you purchase through the Amazon links I've provided. I also receive a very small portion of the sales from Bad Athletics if you use my code BADMARIE.