Give The Gift They Really Want: The Best Gifts for Runners

When you’re shopping for a runner, what is a gift they are sure to love?

Best Gifts for Runners

The Reaction You’re Going For…

On the surface, that sounds like a pretty easy question.

As an example, runners need shoes, so a new pair of running shoes would make a great gift, right?

Well…

If you get the “right” shoes for the runner that you’re shopping for, then a new pair of shoes is an amazing gift! The problem is, there are roughly 4,723,289 different running shoes available and only 1 or 2 of those would be the “right” shoe.

As a runner, I can confidently say that if you got me a brand new pair of shoes that weren’t one or two specific styles of a particular brand I would NEVER wear them running.

As runners, we are peculiar like that.

And here’s the really bad news, we are peculiar about all of our gear that we use on a regular basis.

Clothes, gels, shoes, drinks…

There are, however, some gifts that work for most runners no matter what their particular peculiarities happen to be.

Some of the Best Gift Ideas for Runners (For Any Gift Giving Occasion)

(For legal sake, please assume that all links in this post are affiliate links. Some are, some aren’t. As a reminder, making a purchase using an affiliate link provides me with a small commission for every item purchased and it doesn’t cost you a penny more. The links are provided for your convenience, affiliate or not.)

Great Running Gifts:

  • An IOU: As in, IOU the entry fee for the race of your choice. Or IOU a pair of your favorite running shoes. This way you’re still giving the gift, but you’ll be certain that the runner is getting exactly what he or she wants. And I promise you, it’ll be much appreciated!
  • A Coach: Every runner in the world can benefit from working with a coach, and I’m not saying that just because I coach runners! Think about it, the best runners in the world rely on a coach to craft their work outs, allay their insecurities, and provide them with a pep talk when they need it most. Runners of every level can benefit just as much, if not more, from working with a coach. I have a couple of different coaching options available, so check out the coaching page for details. And please feel free to email me with any questions about giving coaching as a gift for the runner on your list.

Winter Running Essentials:

  • Gloves: When running in the cold, a good pair of gloves is priceless! And as anyone from the north knows, whether you’re a runner or not, gloves disappear sporadically so having an extra pair or two available is less of a luxury and more of a necessity. My favorite gloves for running don’t feel bulky, allow you to still use your hands to hold things, and keep your hands from sweating. Here is a great example.
  • Sunglasses: Really? Sunglasses in the winter? Yep! Sunglasses are a great gift for runners any time of year, including the winter months. The glare of the sun coming off of the snow can be blinding, and a good pair of sunglasses (especially if the lenses are polarized) can make a huge difference in how well a runner can see to avoid slush, ice, and whatever else lies in the way.
  • Lights: It’s rare that a runner is hit by a car when the driver of the car actually sees the runner before the collision. Drivers rarely look for runners as it is, but in the winter they just don’t expect to see runners so the risk of an accident is even higher. Runners should do everything in their power to catch the attention of drivers for their own safety, and that’s where a flashing/colored light makes a great gift! There are a variety of options/styles available including arm bands and clip ons. Speaking for myself only, this is the kind of item that I’d never purchase but if I got it as a gift I would probably use. If you’re runner is in the same boat, this gift can literally be a life saver.

Any Time Running Essentials:

  • Road ID: If your runner doesn’t have a Road ID, they need one! There are different styles available, but all options allow the runner to have their emergency information etched on the metal piece in case of an emergency. I’ve heard too many stories of runners getting hit by a car, collapsing, or having some other emergency and having no ID on them. You can include allergy information, advanced directives, emergency contacts, and more on your Road ID.
  • Gift Card: I know some people hate giving gift cards, especially at Christmas, but remember what I said above about runners being a finicky bunch? If there is a local running store in town, and gift card for that store is an amazing gift! That way your runner can pick out his or her preferred fuel source, fluid additive, type of sock, shoe, or whatever else they have a preference for. Plus you’re supporting a local small business. This is a gift where everyone wins!

Non-Essential Gifts:

  • Runner Box Subscription: Runner Box is a cool company that delivers a box of runner specific goodies to the door of your runner ever other month. A gift of a Runner Box is a great way for your runner to try some different products and maybe find a new “must have” to add to their list. Options include sending a single box and subscriptions of various terms (4, 6, 12 month and/or ongoing). In addition to the standard boxes, birthday boxes and boxes withe everything your runner needs for their next race are also available.
  • Running Jewelry/Charms: Does your runner wear jewelry? These items may fall squarely in the category of “want” and not “need”, and therefore make a great gift. The options are endless, but here are some ideas to at least get you started.
  • Non-Running Running Clothes: I’m a sucker for a cleverly worded t-shirt. There are a few companies out there that make some ah-mazingly clever running related t-shirts, but my favorite is definitely iamfunnyshirts.com. Even if you don’t think a fun t-shirt would make a good gift for your runner, just check out their t-shirt designs and laugh. You’re welcome. (And for the record, the science and math shirts are even better than the running ones!)

Running Related Books:

  • Daughters of Distance: This book by Vanessa Runs is a great read for anyone (man or woman) that is into distance running. I’ve had Vanessa on my podcast twice now, and she is just an awesome woman, runner, and author. In this book she talks about some of the things women distance runners, especially ultra distance runners, face from femininity, to safety, to relationships, to a whole lot more.
  • My Year of Running Dangerously: In this book, the author talks about the first year of intentional running he has had in a long time. His daughter came home from college for Thanksgiving and asked him if he’d train for a marathon with her, he said yes, and a new-found love of running was born. The book chronicles that year of going from non-runner to ultra-marathoner, but talks as much about the family dynamics, relationships, and laughter as it does about the running.
  • 80/20 Running: This book blew my mind when it comes to how I train and how I coach my runners. Yeah, it’s that good.

There are so many other running books out there, but these are a few of my more recent favorites. A Kindle gift card can make a great gift here as well so your runner can pick out a title or two that is of particular interest to them.


I could keep going on for days when it comes to the best gifts for runners, but hopefully this will help you get started.

If you have questions about any of the items I’ve talked about on this page, or anything else you think might be a good gift for the runner on your list, please feel free to reach out to me and I’ll do my best to steer you right!

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