Stuck for a gift for the runner in your life? We’ll give you a head start with our gift ideas and pressie buying guide
Winter is a great time to buy gifts for runners. People want to get moving after Christmas, but they’re short on cash so less inclined to buy kit for themselves. But what should you buy for a runner or newbie jogger? Items such as trainers and sports bras tend to be best left for the runner themselves to choose.
However, that leaves oodles of devices, accessories and kit that the runner in your life will be very grateful to receive. Fitness trackers, gloves, Bluetooth headphones and, of course, socks will go down well and get plenty of use.
Read on for our guide to buying the perfect gift for a runner, depending on your budget, their tastes, and their running habits.
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How to choose the perfect gift for a runner
What do runners like as gifts?
Anyone who’s motivated to pull on a pair of trainers and get jogging will welcome any gift that makes their running that bit easier and more pleasurable.
For example, wireless headphones will provide music or podcasts to keep them entertained on the go. If you can afford to spend a little more, fitness trackers, running watches and smartwatches add features such as distance-tracking and music streaming without the need to take a phone.
Clothes may be too personal a choice to work well as gifts, but socks, gloves and running caps are perfect pressies.
Customised gifts such as framed marathon maps, finishers’ certificates, personalised shoelace tags and even marathon entry gift cards are a great idea, but make sure to research your friend’s running ambitions first. Not every newbie jogger wants a fast-track place in the London Marathon!
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I’m on a budget. What can I buy for under £20?
Running gloves and socks keep chilly extremities warm and blister-free, and help to wick sweat from hands and foreheads. Look for striking patterns, good quality, and thoughtful features such as blister-free socks and smartphone-friendly gloves. Headbands add a splash of colour, keep hair out of the way and keep ears warm, while running hats and running sunglasses are useful all year round.
Waist belts that keep cash, cards, keys and phones secure without getting in the way are useful, as long as they’re snug and inconspicuous. Distance runners and hikers will love a belt that can hold a water bottle or two. Arm bands are less clunky than backpacks and belts. However they don’t suit everyone or fit all phones, so check before you buy.
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How should I choose a running gadget for a friend?
– Wireless headphones are eternally popular, but do your research before you splash out. Phone compatibility, fit and battery life are all worth considering. Here’s our detailed guide to buying headphones and earbuds for runners.
– Fitness trackers are essentially watches that track distance and speed. Here’s our list of recent deals on fitness trackers from Garmin, Fitbit, Apple and more.
– Running watches are effectively smart watches with fitness trackers built in. At the top end, they do everything a smartphone can – including Spotify, Strava and other running-friendly apps – from the comfort of your wrist. They’re not cheap, though. Here’s our recent roundup of the best running watches you can buy.
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The best gift ideas for running and joggers
1. Stance Painted Lady Crew: Best running socks to buy as a gift
Price: £10 | Buy now from Pro Direct
Remember when you dreaded getting socks for pressies as a kid? Nowadays you can’t get enough of the things, especially if you run, jog or hike. Stance’s outstanding active-wear socks offer serious comfort for miles on end, and their reinforced toes and heels ensure they last. They also wick sweat, help prevent blisters, and look absolutely fabulous.
We love these Painted Lady mid-calf socks for women, but Runners Need has plenty more designs and sizes available, including socks offering specialist arch support. Also check the Stance store on Amazon for gift ideas.
Key specs – Material: Polyester, Nylon, Spandex blend (machine washable at 40C); Sizes available: 1 (more sizes available in other patterns); Colours available: 2 (many more available from other retailers)
2. Tile Pro Bluetooth Item Finder: Best gadget under £50 to buy for a runner
Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon
Mislaying keys and phones is an occupational hazard for runners, who are forever moving these items around as they switch between running kit, belts and backpacks. Make their life easier with a Tile Pro, which uses Bluetooth to create a secure wireless connection between their keyring (or backpack, waistpack, gloves or whatever else the Tile is attached to) and their phone. Their phone can tell them where the Tile is at any time, over more than 120 metres. It works the other way round, too: use the Tile to locate your phone within the same range.
Key specs – Works with: Android, iOS, Alexa, Google Smart Home; Range: 121m (400ft); Water-resistant: Yes; Battery: CR2032 (included); Size: 42mm x 42mm x 6.5mm
3. FlipBelt Zipper Premium Running Belt: Best running belt to buy as a gift
Price: From £32 | Buy now from Amazon
Running belts are well-meaning things, but they tend to add weight and aggro, not to mention lumps and bumps. But the stylish FlipBelt Zipper Premium dispenses with buckles, straps and sticky-out pockets, and weighs just 100g. The stretchy moisture-wicking material fits snugly enough not to move while you exercise, and despite its sleek silhouette it packs in four compartments for phone, keys and more, all secured by concealed zips.
Key specs – Material: Micropoly with 8% Lycra; Sizes available: 5 (XS-XL); Colours available: 4 (Black, Aqua, Carbon, Pink)
4. Adidas Sport FWD-01 Bluetooth Earphone: Best wireless headphones for walkers and ultra-runners
Price: £64 | Buy now from Amazon
End the misery of a dead battery half-way through a long run by gifting your friend with a whopping 16-plus hours of battery life. And even if your friend never leaves the house for more than half an hour, they’ll welcome not having to recharge their headphones so often.
There’s plenty more to justify the relatively high cost of these Bluetooth earbuds. Hundreds of five-star Amazon buyers cite factors such as sweat-proof ergonomic design that fits any ear size; excellent sound quality; and the ability to pause, skip, adjust volume and take phone calls using the one-touch controls. The earbuds deliberately don’t create a perfect seal, so their wearer can remain fully aware of their surroundings, helping them stay safe while out and about.
Key specs – Type: In-ear; Wireless connection: Bluetooth; Charger connection: USB-C; Water-resistant: Yes; Battery life: 16+ hours
5. Fitbit Inspire 2: Best fitness tracker or running watch to buy as a gift
Price: £89 | Buy now from John Lewis
The legendary Fitbit lets you monitor your walking, cycling and even swimming as well as your running – and also your sleep levels and heart rate. The Fitbit Inspire 2 has a 10-day battery life, double that of its predecessor (the Inspire HR), and also now includes Fitbit’s Active Zone Minutes data-tracking feature, plus a one-year Fitbit Premium subscription trial. Oh, and it tells the time!
The screen is tiny compared with the Fitbit Versa 3 (here’s our rundown of the best fitness trackers), so bear that in mind if buying it for a friend who uses reading glasses. But for under £80 this watch would make a superb pressie.
Key specs – Screen type: Monochrome OLED; Battery life: 10 days; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Connected only; Heart rate: Yes; Altimeter: No; Colours available: 3 (Desert Rose, Lunar White, Black)
6. Personalised Marathon Cushion: Best customised gift for a runner
Price: £21 | Buy now from Not On The High Street
If your loved one is pining for mass running events in these days of social distancing, then this beautifully-made custom cushion should remind them of happy times – and give them somewhere comfy to relax after a training run. The idea is that you personalise it with their name, race number and event, but you could use their birth year and whatever wording you like. You can also request special colour customisations, and order as a complete cushion or cover only.
Key specs – Material: Cotton cover (machine-washable 30C) plus optional polyester cushion; Size: 45cm x 45cm
7. Gore Wear M Gore-tex Infinium Stretch Gloves: Best running gloves to buy as a gift
Price: £32 l Buy now from Amazon
Gloves are almost as important as socks for many runners, and not just in winter. These classic light, super-stretchy gloves from Gore are extremely breathable, water-repellent and windproof, guaranteeing to keep any runner’s hands cosy and non-clammy. Their touchscreen-friendly fingertips really work, and they come in a great range of sizes so they’ll fit like an, erm, glove.
Key specs – Material: Polyester; Sizes available: 7; Colours available: 2 (Black, Neon Yellow/Black)
8. Sweaty Betty Power Headband: Best running headband to buy as a gift
Price: £10 | Buy now from Sweaty Betty
Give your running pal a splash of panache with this clever exercise headband, which keeps ears warm in winter and wicks sweat all year round. The stylish geometric pattern is extremely reflective for added safety, and there’s a ponytail hole at the back to help keep long hair out of the way. Also comes in black with a small reflective logo on the side.
Key specs – Material: Nylon blend (machine-washable); Sizes available: 1; Colours available: 2
9. Rockay Accelerate Anti-Blister Running Socks: Best short socks to buy for a runner
Price: £15.50 | Buy now from Amazon
These snazzy socks have been tested for maximum durability in extreme conditions and over ultra-long distances. The material is designed to keep your feet warm, dry, whiff-free and blister-free, thanks to sweat-wicking properties, ‘ventilation zones’ and a double layer to prevent chafing. They dry very quickly, even after long sweaty or soggy runs, and they fit very snugly (quite tight, according to some buyers) to avoid dropping down inside your trainers. What’s more, your gift isn’t wasteful: each pair uses 100% recycled material made from 22 plastic bottles.
Key specs – Special features: Anti-blister, anti-odour, lifetime guarantee; Material: Nylon, Polyamide and Elastane (100% recycled); Sizes available: 4 (S-XL; some sizes unavailable in some colours); Colours available: 10
10. Lava Activ Running Belt with Water Bottles: Best water bottle belt to buy for a runner or walker
Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon
Give the gift of water with this holster-style belt, which comes with two BFA-free 300ml bottles for long runs or hikes. There’s also a large zip pocket for stashing a phone, keys and other essentials. It’s designed to be worn across the hips, rather than tightly around the waist, and that’ll appeal to some runners but perhaps not those who prefer to travel light.
Key specs – Special features: Includes 2 x BPA-Free 300ml bottles; Material: Neoprene; Size: Fits 26-40in hips; belt extender included; Colours available: 2
11. JBL Endurance Sprint: Best wireless Bluetooth headphones to buy for a runner in a hurry
Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon
Get eight hours of playback from just a 30-minute charge with these Bluetooth wireless headphones from JBL. Sound quality is good, and the over-ear hook keeps them in place even during the most vigorous exercise. But this hook style is loved by some runners and hated by others, so do some subtle research before you buy them as a gift. Also be aware that some buyers reject JBL’s claim that they’re “fully waterproof”. They may not survive a swim, but they’ll get through a downpour no problem.
Key specs – Type: In-ear; Wireless connection: Bluetooth; Charger connection: USB 2.0; Water-resistant: Yes; Battery life: 8 hours
12. Stojo water bottle: Best collapsible water bottle to buy as a gift
Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon
This great-looking recycled bottle would make a great gift for all kinds of people, but it’s especially useful for runners because it collapses down for stashing in a pack. It holds a whopping 590ml of liquid when full, but collapses easily down to a couple of inches deep. You’ll want to give it a good hot wash before using, though: some buyers complain of the “silicone taste” that may put off even the thirstiest runner!
Key specs – Material: BPA-free food-grade silicone (dishwasher-safe); Size: 18 x 8 x 8 cm; Weight: 180g; Colours available: 8