Ron Marinucci: Great Running Gifts for the Holidays

Ron Marinucci: Great Running Gifts for the Holidays

If you have runners on your Christmas present list, shopping can be pretty simple. There are lots of things, from necessities to toys and gadgets, that will make your favorite runners happy.

A good place to start looking is your local running shop. Staffers there will know what runners appreciate and the latest in running technology. You can also check online, using a search engine to help you find possibilities. The ads, especially at the tail end, in running magazines and journals also offer suggestions.

Here are some further ideas to explore.

Clothing is always a good bet. If your runner is like me, he’s always losing mittens and gloves and stocking hats. Extras are always welcome. Try some of the new microfiber clothes — shirts, shorts, socks, etc. — that help both summer and winter running. Jackets and running suits are a bit pricier. But avoid buying shoes. Because of each runner’s personal quirks, it’s probably best to leave the shoe buying up to them.

I was recently introduced to Turtle Gloves and was given a chance to test them. They are fingerless gloves with a flip-over feature that allows the fingers access to, say, shoe laces that need to be tied in the middle of a run. I really liked them. They were light, yet very warm.

To get others’ views, I had Karen and our friend Carrie Farnum wear them on a cold, windy evening’s walk at the Light Fest 8K. Karen didn’t care for the squared off finger tips, but other than that found them “really warm.” And she appreciated how light they were. Carrie echoed the positive review. “They kept my fingers much warmer than my very expensive gloves.” She also noted “how light they are.” She was fond of the green color (they come in several colors and patterns) and joked, “especially the Kermit the Frog appeal to them.” She enthused, “I would buy a pair.”

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Runners who race have lots of remnants of their races around the house. The clutter, er, memories can be organized with several unique Christmas present ideas. Race tee shirts can be sewn into quilts, of various sizes. Medals can be handsomely displayed in cases or on hangers. Even race bibs can be turned into table coasters for drinks. Use a search engine and type in the key word to find where these can be found.

Runners who run in the evenings or early morning hours, especially in the winter, will certainly appreciate one or more of several gift ideas. A reflective or even lighted vest is essential for running in the dark. Head lamps that strap around the head make it both easier to see and to be seen.

There are oodles of products that bring technology to running. For the most part, I shun much of the technology. But I love my GPS watch, which I use almost exclusively to map mileage. These watches have many other functions that the less technology-challenged folks might enjoy. Heart-rate monitors are also available, some with the GPS and other more traditional watches. And there are computer programs for training or merely for high-tech record-keeping/logs. Some of them come with the watches and plug right into computers, allowing workouts to be directly downloaded into the programs. The software is available in Windows and Mac.

Runners suffer lots of aches and pains, or so they claim. Massage balls or foam rollers can be appreciated gifts. Or, if you want to splurge a bit more, buy a gift certificate for a full-body massage by a licensed therapist. And there are hot/cold compress harnesses for the after-run hours.

National Masters News offers All-American merchandise for runners who run faster than the norm. Proof of meeting or beating the USATF All-American standards must be provided. Products range from certificates, patches, and decals to a variety of shirts, hats, and equipment bags. Information can be found at the NMN Web site.

Books are also nice gifts for runners. And there’s a wide variety from which to pick. There are old standbys and one can’t go wrong by giving one of the many written by the late Dr. George Sheehan. Joe Henderson, Jeff Galloway, and Hal Higdon have written many good books on training. Higdon’s novel, Marathon, is, if a bit fantastic, a lot of fun to read and, in my case, reread.

I’ve read four running books recently and enjoyed them all. Anne Audain was a world-class runner in the ‘70s and ‘80s, on the track and on the roads. Uncommon Heart is her autobiography. It is a chronicle of early women’s running and the rise of professionalism in the sport, as well as her personal story. Her courage is often moving and she offers some juicy tidbits about some of the most famous names in the sport.

Two books by Michigan runners and authors would make any runner happy. Don Kern’s And the Adventure Continues is the rollicking story of his attempt to satisfy two items on his “life list,” Kern’s version of a bucket list: “to run a marathon on all seven continents” and “to set a world record.” He combines the two and off he goes, leaving us with a funny, often hilarious, story of adventure — and respect. Running Science by Owen Anderson is one of the best training books I’ve read, ranking with The Lore of Running by Tim Noakes.

Anderson’s book tells runners not only what to do, but how to do it and, especially well, why to do it. Some of the text will particularly appeal to science junkies, but Anderson writes in such a clear, comprehensible style that every runner can profit by it.

Philip Striano’s Anatomy of Training is geared to help runners improve through strengthening and stretching exercises specific to running. It is comprehensive and, making it especially unique, filled with illustrations — photographs, drawings, and diagrams — that make following the training plan easy.

Of course, there are even simpler ways to satisfy your special runners. If you know his or her schedule, give a surprise by paying an entry into a race that is planned. Those who don’t have subscriptions to runner periodicals like Runner’s World, Running Times, and Michigan Runner would appreciate one. And, if you can’t choose or just plain run out of time, a gift certificate/card to your local running store is always greeted with a smile, at least in my house it is.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!