But if you're looking for an amazingly thoughtful (i.e. not the cell phone I asked you not to buy) gift for the runner you love, here are some of my favorites.
Getting socks as a runner is not the same as when you get them as an angst-filled teenager. They are appreciated 100 million times more because you aren't hoping for a Nirvana box set instead. Plus runner socks are not cheap, and it's hard to justify the splurge on yourself. But that's exactly why they are an awesome, but practical enough for grandmas everywhere to approve, gift.
I need some new black Swiftwick compression socks in case my lucky pair actually wears out. After almost two years and wearing them allthedangtime, they are still hanging on and still my absolute favorite sock.
And some new Injinji toe socks for when I'm about to get my feet wet. These have saved me from so many blisters during my 50Ks.
If you are feeling super generous, you could also throw in travel funds for a vacation race.
Mostly I want to run a 50 miler next year, so a surprise entry to one of those for next fall would be cool. Maybe the Georgia Jewel 50 Mile or the North Face Endurance Challenge 50. That would really be the gift that kept on giving (in training) all year.
Sometimes it's hard to know what to get someone if you don't understand (read: don't care about) their hobby. And I definitely don't expect my husband to care as much about running as me. If we both cared that much, it might actually get annoying. Balance in all things.
But there are other people out there surfing the new runner product wasteland and picking out the things that are worth a darn. Some of my most favorite current products have come from boxes that these product scavengers have put together. They are an awesome surprise for any occasion and would definitely be a win in December.
My personal favorite is Runnerbox.
This is a hard one because shoes are so personal, but EVER SINGLE RUNNER EVER needs shoes. It's the only absolutely necessary piece of equipment.
You could always get them a gift certificate to a local running store. In Birmingham, we have Alabama Outdoors (trail), Mountain High Outfitters (trail), Fleet Feet, and Trak Shak. A gift card to a store near them would probably make even the toughest runner cry tears of joy. Or at least be really excited to go try on a bunch of shoes. Note: I just got an email that Alabama Outdoors has a gift card sale tomorrow (December 7th) -- $75 for $100 gift card or $40 for a $50 gift card.
In a late night fog, I ordered myself a pair of these Altra Lone Peaks that I have been really itching to try out on the trails. They only ended up being around $40 because they are last year's model combined with sale prices. I'll let you know how they work out.
And I will probably just wrap these up and make these my present (boring, but practical!), so my husband is totally off the present hook.
Perfect for all runners because we all want to stay alive while doing the thing we love. And a lot of us run because we hope it will help us live even longer.
This guy wears one, and he seems pretty intense.
I have the Wrist ID Slim version and love the simplicity of it. At $17.99, this is a pretty affordable gift for anyone on the list.
Books about running
Because what do runners want to do when they're not running, read about how to be a better runner. Or at least they need something to do for those long toilet sessions after a long run.
A great basic is a subscription to Runner's World, and I personally have my eye on Trail Runner Magazine.
My other favorites are based on trail fanatics, but I feel sure that any runner could appreciate them.
And here's another one that I've been interested in reading because this guy kind of scares me with his awesomeness.
If you know a runner, you can count on them being injured and whining about it at some point in their runner life. So help a brother (or sister) out.
One amazing gift would be a gift certificate to a local massage therapist. Only do this if you plan to be viewed as an amazing person.
A back-up to the first idea is to give them a way to massage their own back. The Thera Cane is my all-time favorite. We have one and use it every day. Some days we even argue over who gets to use it, and my husband isn't even a runner. So it is a gift loved by all.
The foam roller is a close second. Honestly it's not first because it takes a little more effort to use. You actually have to drag your butt out of bed to use it. So not as easy as sitting in bed eating, eating chips, and theracaning. But when I finish with it, I feel like a freshly beaten rug.
And because I just feel like it, I want to give one of my favorite non-runner things to you.
We don't have a Trader Joe's nearby, so their Candy Cane Joe Joe's are like gold to me. If you like chocolate and peppermint mixed together and dunked in almond milk, or any other heaven-like substance, you need these. Plus, they are a great sugar-coma-inducing splurge to make before buckling down on your healthy eating for the new year.
Last year, when I finally made it to the Trader Joe's in Nashville, which we pass on our way to visit my husband's family in Kentucky, they were out. Out! It was like Santa Claus pulled me off his list. So this year we stocked up early and heavily, and I have an extra box for one of you.
If you want a box of cookie gold sent to your house, just let me know in a comment, and I'll pick someone Monday morning using random.org. This is a very small way to say thanks to all of you who have supported me with your comments, positive vibes, and virtual high fives this year.