How to Choose the Perfect Christmas Gift for Long-Distance Runners

How to Choose the Perfect Christmas Gift for Long-Distance Runners

Posted by RunUnited on Dec 11th 2023

Choosing the perfect gift for a marathon runner may feel like a marathon itself. If you’re not a runner yourself or need inspiration, this guide will help you find the ideal gift that shows how much you care. Enjoy!

What Is the Best Gift for Runners & What to Avoid

We all know that runners are a unique breed. They often have very specific tastes, preferences, and needs, and their gear is highly personal. So, if you’re unsure of what gift to pick for a runner in your life, the best approach is to simply ask them. Yep, it may seem too straightforward, but in the end, you get a gift truly wished for. However, if you want to surprise them, things can get a bit tricky.

Firstly, let's talk about what not to buy. Shoes and running clothes can be risky choices because runners can be quite picky about these items. And more, even the most reliable running gifts, like socks, can be a miss - for example, some runners might prefer cushioned socks, while others like them thin and lightweight. If you're determined to gift running clothing, here’s a life hack. Do their laundry a few times - this way, you'll get a good idea of the brands they love and the sizes they wear.

Technology gifts, like smartwatches, can also be a bit of a gamble. Take Garmin watches, for instance. They range from basic fitness trackers to high-tech wrist computers. Now, imagine gifting a basic model to someone who was hoping for something more sophisticated, or otherwise, gifting a top-of-the-line model to someone who prefers simplicity.

So, what are some safe bets?

Best Gifts for Marathon Runners

Gift Card

A  gift card to a running store like RunUnited is a win. It will let the runner in your runner pick out the gear that feels just right for them. And with a killer selection of running shoes from top-notch brands like Hoka, Saucony, Altra, Topo, Brooks, ON Running, INOV-8, and more, they're sure to find something they'll love.

Hydration Vests

Hydration is key for any marathoner. A good long-distance hydration pack is lightweight and doesn’t bounce but not necessarily holds high-capacity bladders. The Amphipod PureRun Minimalist vest is an excellent choice. It’s comfortable, light, breathable, and has plenty of storage for hydration - 1.5 liters - and snacks.

Running Socks

As we’ve mentioned, socks may seem like a simple gift, but not for runners. Running socks are rather complex gear for a newbie - some socks come with compression zones, and others are designed to provide additional cushioning. Generally, long-distance runners prefer cushioned running socks because they help absorb shock created by the impact of the foot striking the ground. Brands like Feetures and Balega offer excellent options for cushioned running socks. But remember, it's important to be careful as every runner has their own preference.

Foam Rollers

Long-distance running can take a toll on the body, but a foam roller can help alleviate muscle tension and promote recovery. Look for a roller that is firm enough to provide deep tissue massage but not so hard that it's painful to use. Brands like TriggerPoint are known for their high-quality foam rollers. The unique design of TriggerPoint GRID foam rollers, featuring varying textures and densities, simulates the hands of a massage therapist for effective muscle targeting. Their rollers are not just for post-run recovery either. The runner in your life can incorporate it into their pre-run routine to warm up and activate their muscles, preparing them for the run ahead.

Vibrating Massage Device

This can be a good alternative to a foam roller. A vibrating massage device can help speed up recovery by relieving muscle tension and improving blood flow. Theragun and Hyperice make high-quality, easy-to-use massage devices that any runner would appreciate.

Reflective Gear

While safety is highly important, it doesn't necessarily have to be mundane. With the innovative reflective gear from Amphipod, you can gift your runner friend or family member a perfect blend of safety and style, something that resonates with their personality. Take the Amphipod Xinglet Optic Beam vest, for instance. Featuring 360-degree high-brilliance dual strobe LED lights and a reflective booster zone on both the front and back, this vest is all about being seen. And if you think the best gift for the runner in your life is something more humble, consider the Amphipod Love To Run Hi-Viz Visible Express Kit. This pack includes an adjustable reflective belt, reflective bands for arms or ankles, and a clip-on LED light.


Protecting eyes from the sun is crucial, especially for long-distance runners. A good pair of running sunglasses will be lightweight, won't slip off, and will provide 100% UV protection. Brands like Oakley and Goodr are popular among runners for their performance and style. Goodr are affordable shades known for their stylish prints and vibrant colors, offering a fun and fashionable gift for runners. On the other hand, Oakley focuses on high-performance protective eyewear, often preferred by professional athletes for its superior lens technology and durable design.

Running Smartwatches

Modern running smartwatches help track much more than distance, pace, and heart rate. We’re talking about oxygen levels, respiration rate, lactate threshold, stride length, and other nerd stats. Garmin offers high-quality running watches that are loved by runners around the globe, so whatever model you choose, it will be a great gift for a runner. The Forerunner 265 is the best value for money, but there are other options, like the Venu 3 that perfectly marries the health-tracking features with the convenience of a smartwatch, or the Vivomove, a hybrid smartwatch with a clean, casual design.

Personalized Gifts for Runners

If you want to add a personal touch to your gift, consider something more personalized. These items show that you've really thought about the gift and understand their passion for the sport.

Medal Displays: Many runners take great pride in their race medals, and a custom display is a thoughtful way to help them show off their achievements. You can find numerous options, from simple hooks to elaborate designs with inspirational quotes.

Running Jewelry: Jewelry that represents running can be a touching gift. Look for necklaces, bracelets, or rings with running-related charms or inscriptions.

Marathon Pint Glass: For the runner who enjoys a cold beverage after a long run, a marathon pint glass can be a fun gift. You can find ones etched with marathon distances or even custom ones with their personal best time. It's a great way for them to toast to their accomplishments.

Running-themed Books: Books about running can offer inspiration, advice, and a sense of camaraderie. Titles like "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall or "Once a Runner" by John L. Parker Jr. are beloved in the running community.