The 14 Best Gifts for Runners for Birthdays, Christmas, or Any Reason at All

If you have a friend or family member who’s into running, then buying them a gift couldn’t be easier.

There are a million and one objects that runners need on a regular basis. So, if you give them such highly needed items as presents, you’ll forever be their favorite person in the whole world.

Here are some practical gift ideas for runners that’ll definitely be winners. The list includes essentials as well as charming trinkets. As for the price tags, we made sure these gifts match any budget, big or small. Some of them are so easy on the pocket but have a high value for an athlete. 

The 14 Best Gifts for Runners

1.  Running Shoes

One of the best gifts to give a runner is a fine pair of running shoes. There are three reasons for that:

First, it’s the most important piece of athletic gear for them. Running shoes could make a jog a breeze or a living hell. Nobody likes blisters, plantar fasciitis, or achy knees. All that is avoidable with the right pair of shoes.

Second, they go through these shoes quite quickly, and hence, constantly need new ones. A significant amount of the support, flexibility, and grip of running shoes wears off after a few months of usage. These folks need new shoes at all times.

And third, they love trying new ones to see which brand is a really good fit for them. Feet come in a wide variety of shapes, strong areas, and weak spots. That’s why a great pair of running shoes for one athlete might be totally wrong for another. It’s a good idea then to try out a bunch of designs, and see what clicks.

gifts for runners

Look for a pair that’s durable, lightweight, flexible, supportive, and breathable. You get extra points if the shoes are practical, laceless, and look good. 

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2.  Running Socks

Running socks are just as essential to runners as running shoes.

Back in the day, people had two kinds of socks only. There were dress socks and sports socks, that was all. Now, we have a much wider variety.

A good pair of socks should provide extra padding around the spots that get the most beating while running. The ankles, toes, and forefoot need a bit of protection from friction with the shoes and consistent impact with the ground.

Prime quality socks should also be moisture-wicking, flexible, durable, and machine washable. There are several options for thickness, height, color, and style, with some running socks having separate toes.

There are also thematic collections, like National Park socks. This is a meaningful and highly tasteful gift for any runner. You can get one or the whole bunch, depending on the budget you have. It’s not terribly expensive anyway.  

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3.  Compression Socks

Compression socks are known to improve circulation, enhance overall performance, and increase the muscle’s ability to recover after hard training. Some studies also showed that compression fabrics can decrease the frequency and severity of cramps.

The knee-high varieties also add a bit of warmth. This is quite welcome in the early morning or late evening runs when the temperatures are insanely low. 

Not all runners favor these long socks though. Luckily, compression socks are also available in ankle length, hidden, and crew variations.

Compression socks give your runner friends more support and less fatigue. So they’ll definitely thank you for all that comfort every time they run!

Marathon runners would be extra grateful for these socks, as they’ll boost the runners’ endurance. Trail runners would also benefit a lot from the added comfort and improved muscle performance. As for a runner who has plantar fasciitis, these socks would be a Godsend.

The prices of compression socks aren’t overboard, and most often come in ranges similar to good quality running socks. Don’t let the price factor deter you, it’s a great gift.      

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4.  Fitness Tracker

Runners need to constantly monitor their heart rate to get a better understanding of how well they’re performing. This is the best way to stay safe, especially after a long run. In addition, it helps runners to optimize their workouts.

Fitness trackers traditionally measured limited biological markers and sports data. Nowadays, athletes get a lot more. Trackers provide a detailed report on daily exercise, like the calories burned, total distance, speed, and trail characteristics.

More advanced devices give insights, stats, and even good advice on how to get better. Some of the pricier models include sleep monitoring since it’s a crucial part of good health.

The gimmicks never stop, so if you’d like a few more bells and whistles, you can look for trackers with music playlists or smartphone capabilities. There are also clever devices that track more than one type of sport. Thus, a triathlon athlete would welcome a tracker that follows the data of biking and swimming in addition to running.

Older runners are especially advised to monitor their vital signs while running. So on top of their heart rate, they should also check their blood pressure and oxygen saturation. More advanced trackers can detect a runner’s disruption in biological signals, accidents, or falls. These trackers send alarm messages right away to the nearest family or health center.

Battery life used to be an issue back in the day, but that’s no longer problematic at all. Most of these trackers function for a long time before needing a recharge.

The prices vary naturally depending on what the tracker is capable of. There are also various options for women trackers with unique colors and styles, so there’s a nice variety there. These devices are also wonderful Christmas gifts for most people.

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5.  Foam Roller

Running is among the most refreshing and satisfying sports ever. And exercising always feels smooth and amazing, until you get back home, and start walking up the stairs. That’s when you start feeling the pain. Around bedtime, the soreness gets seriously bad.

Sometimes, the muscles are so knotted that runners have to skip a few days until their muscles recover.

Luckily, there are some tried and true ways to decrease the strain on the muscle fibers and get them back to normal as quickly as possible. Prompt pain relief is also essential to resume daily activities and have a good night’s sleep without a nagging muscle cramp.

Foam rollers are among the easiest methods to diffuse and alleviate the whole body. You can use it to realign your vertebrae, massage your muscles, or improve the circulation around a sore area.

Metabolizing the wastes that accumulate in the muscles post-workout is an important stage of recovery. This phase can be done efficiently and effectively when you use a foam roller all around the stiff muscles.

There are a bunch of choices you can select from, from the rollers with smooth surfaces to the ones with protrusions. Firmness levels vary as well, which helps in providing a quick relaxation or a deep tissue massage.

There are also several models that match the different body parts. What’s good for your legs might not work too well on your back. So, athletes usually get two or three to cover all fronts. Vibrating rollers are also available for a more wholesome experience.

Prices vary according to the brand and perks you can get, but even the simplest selection is still good. The budget-friendly options are quite practical, and the differences in quality aren’t tragic.  You can’t go wrong with this gift.

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6.  Running Gloves

No gift guide for athletes is ever complete without running gloves. This little piece of running gear is actually pretty important, and runners hold it in high regard. For trail runners wearing a glove isn’t just a nice thing, it’s essential for safety.  

Running gloves can be as simple as a snug-fitting hand warmer, to a more sophisticated piece of gear you can use on your smartphone to click and swipe. Some gloves are water and wind-resistant, which is a great option for rainy locations.

Cold weather is a huge turnoff when one’s body isn’t properly protected. It’s amazing that some of these running gloves have thermal properties that offer more than mere protection from the chill.

Some people prefer natural thin materials, while others enjoy layered padding. Additionally, some gloves are pretty snug and feel like a second skin. Roomy gloves are just as available, and several runners enjoy the extra breathing space they get.

Note that machine washable gloves are always better than hand washable ones. Additionally, weight, softness, and fit are critical for comfort. So these points are non-negotiable. 

It would be nice to know in advance what are the personal preferences of your favorite runner. As for the style and color, you can totally surprise them with your selections! An element of surprise in a gift is always welcome.  

gifts for runners

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7.  Compression Sleeves

Running is a great sport as long as we know how to avoid injuries. The taxing movements involved with running can be problematic, whether that’s a morning jog around the block, a sprint, or a marathon training.

There are tons of issues that could affect the thighs, knees, calves, and ankles. The least of these annoying issues is pain. However, matters could escalate to joint destabilization, tendonitis, meniscus wearing out, varicose veins, Achilles tendon, and ankle spurs.

Compression sleeves provide two main benefits to runners: extra support and improved circulation. It’s no wonder that running coaches often recommend them.  

The pain and soreness that often comes after a long run or a foray in a particularly rough trail is seriously annoying. You can help your runner friend to decrease that inconvenience by using compression sleeves. The improvement in circulation does wonders in shortening muscle recovery time.

A runner who’s recovering from an injury should minimize further stress on the affected area. Thus, using a suitable compression sleeve can offer the needed protection for the athlete.

The phase right after healing from an injury and easing back into working out should always be handled with care. The involvement of a physician and physiotherapist at this stage is critical for getting the most out of an exercise and dodging any possible harm for these dedicated runners.

The proper choice of compression sleeve is key here. What works for the knee might not be the best remedy for the calves, thighs, or ankles. Some runners get an assortment, while others focus on problematic areas only.

Sometimes, runners need further support, and in that case, a compression sleeve might not be sufficient. It’s best to direct them to a doctor who would prescribe the right orthotic supports.

Knowing what the runner needs exactly would be better than guessing. The price tags are quite similar, so you wouldn’t get a huge spike even if you find a sleeve with a glittery brand name.

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8.  GPS Watch

Technology has a finger in every pie, and sports are no exception! This is not such a bad thing when your wristwatch is so smart that it becomes a trainer, assistant, and entertainer all in one. A GPS watch has tons of benefits for athletes, so it’s definitely one of the best gifts to give a runner.

Keeping track of the exercise path is a great way to analyze progress on a daily basis, then compare these results at the end of each month. The stats should be an accurate guide to where there is actual progress, and where improvement might be needed. Avid runners usually appreciate that.

GPS trackers also play important safety roles for trail runners who are often off-road. Whether they need to make sure that they’re on the right track or explore new venues, a GPS is a necessity.

Additionally, we all get lost sometimes, and in the absence of a GPS tracker, we might take too long to find our way. A GPS connected to friends and family phones is a lifesaver in cases of emergency. Many smartwatches are now equipped with fall or cardiac arrest detectors that send alarm messages when needed.

The safety and practicality of GPS watches are all great. However, they rarely come with these functions alone. Often, you’d find watches that can be used while swimming, ones that take and make phone calls, and others that play music, both live-streamed and stored.

Several of these advanced watches are also equipped with sensors that collect fitness and medical data. With a few of them also monitoring sleep cycles. This integrated approach to working out is certainly impressive, and runners can really benefit from it.

GPS watches don’t come cheap, so this gift should be reserved for a special someone. There are unisex models, as well as women’s and men’s varieties. Style matters a lot while making a selection, and luckily, there are plenty of elegant GPS watches on sale.  

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9.  Shoe Tags

Shoe tags are among the cutest gifts you can give to a runner friend. They’re often customizable, so you can create a personalized message, which is ever so charming. You can also choose from a wide selection of ready-made positive messages of encouragement and cheer.

Shoe tags can be decorative, motivational, or for safety. These little tags can serve as an extra identification method for an athlete. An ID is essential when runners go for solo runs on lightly populated trails. Also, when they go out on runs without taking their wallets.

Personalizing one’s running shoes is a nice way of claiming ownership and avoiding mixups if other fellow runners happened to have a similar pair. This is in addition to making the shoes look really cool.

The inspirational messages on shoe tags are also a way to personalize any athlete’s sports gear. And on these days when they can’t muster enough stamina to go for a hard run, they might provide the right dose of encouragement.

Despite their big impact on your runner friends, most of these tags come at prices that are pretty easy on the pocket. For around $10 to $20 you can get some fancy shoe tags that’ll make a statement on a pair of laces and put a smile on a runner’s face. 

Shoe tags are also nice Christmas or birthday gifts for anyone. This is a versatile option you should always keep on your radar.

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10. Gym Bag

No athlete can go through life without a gym bag, so that is another rock-solid option for a gift. Runners normally hit the gym regularly. And if they do triathlons, then they’d be around swimming pools frequently as well.

The perfect gym bag should be of a moderate to large size. A waterproof exterior and durable fabric interior are usually a good combination. Triathalon runners would need bigger bags, as they often have more stuff.

The main compartment needs to be big enough for holding a pair of shoes, sports clothes, a change of running clothes, plus a clean towel. Besides that, zippers, pockets, hooks, and hangers are absolutely essential to keep personal belongings in good order.

The price, quality, and style of gym bags vary hugely depending on the brand. We don’t often recommend big names in sports gear except when there’s a substantial difference in material and durability.

gifts for runners

For gym bags, definitely go with a trustworthy brand. The price tag might be a bit high, but the outcome is justifiable. There are some Black Friday offers that might bring you really good deals.

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11. Running Jacket

Running jackets mark the difference between a comfortable healthy run and a burdensome chilly exercise. A light jacket for an evening run is always nice, but when it gets really cold, then a thermal jacket becomes essential. One made from merino wool is often ideal for winter runs.

Some runners prefer a snug fit, while others feel more comfortable with a breezy outfit. This is an individual preference, so it’s best to ask your running buddy before committing to a purchase. In all cases, choose a durable material that’s machine washable for easy maintenance.

You might notice that many of these jackets come in neon colors, and that’s not just a fashion statement. It’s actually for added safety. The stark vibrant colors are much easier to spot by vehicles, bikes, or even other runners. This is especially beneficial in low light or in foggy weather.

The prices vary significantly from brand to brand, so you can pick a pricey item or one that’s more budget-friendly. The variation in value also depends on the brand, extra layers of padding, finish, and style.  

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12. Cell Phone Armband

This is one of the ideal gifts for runners, as the question of where to keep the cell phone? is one that has been on every athlete’s mind since these phones were invented.

Armbands are secure and safe little pouches that provide a great storage spot for a phone. You can attach earbuds or headphones to listen to your favorite music. Or even stay in touch with your business while running so you never miss a beat.

Some people wonder whether you feel an extra weight on your arm while strapping this band, but the hundreds of thousands of happy users say otherwise. It’s among the best innovations that runers came across.

These armbands often have extra zippered pockets to carry a small wallet and keys as well. Which makes them absolutely indispensable. Most armbands are waterproof, or at least water-resistant. Thus, your phone and other belongings wouldn’t be drenched and spoiled if it rains.

Some armbands have a transparent side, so you can check out your phone’s screen without taking it out. Other varieties have a 360 degrees swivel base, where the phone can be rotated to any position the runner likes.

It’s best to choose a nicely fitting armband, which isn’t too difficult as there are many sizes to match most body types. This way, the armband would be comfortable and at the same time, it wouldn’t fall off or slide down the runner’s arm.

It’s also important to choose a breathable material that doesn’t feel too hot on the skin. It should also be made from a soft fabric that doesn’t cause any chaffing or irritation.

The prices of most armbands hover around the $20 mark, which makes it an economic purchase. It’s so popular with users though, and chances are that your runner friend would totally fall in love with it.  

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13. Running Belt

While armbands are an all-time favorite with many runners, some aren’t too fond of them. For these folks, a running belt is a perfect alternative.

Additionally, there’s no law that prevents anyone from putting on both, so if someone needs to take a bunch of stuff while running, then by all means get an armband and a running belt.

Most of these fanny packs are designed to be minimalist little affairs that just carry the essentials. Then again, manufacturers are well aware that some runners would prefer to carry more. Thus, there are bigger belts with more provisions for all the extras. Some even contain a compartment for carrying a water bottle.

The prices of running belts aren’t too different from armbands. This is another budget buy that comes at a small price but serves a much bigger function.

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14. Foot Massager

Wooden foot massagers work on the principles of applying acupressure to heal and protect tissues. This includes relieving pain, soreness, inflammation, and helping with issues like plantar fascitis and achy heels.

Runners apply incredible amounts of stress on their feet, and that’s why they constantly need to take extra care to protect these parts.

The deep tissue massage these wooden rollers provide improves circulation tremendously, which is always a big plus in keeping feet healthy.

The regular rolling movement of the little protrusions also works on maintaining the flexibility and virility of feet. Thus, an athlete is constantly good to go for any run on any trail. This is one of the best gifts you can give any athlete.

foot on a blue feet massager

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Final Thoughts On The Ideal Gifts For Runners

There you have it! That was our carefully curated list of the best gifts for runners. It covers everything from basic needs all the way to charming little accessories.

All kinds of runners can benefit from at least one item on this list. This includes running teams, trail runners, marathon runners, and even triathlon runners. We didn’t leave anyone out. And the suggested options are absolutely the best in class.

If there’s a particular gift you’d like us to add to the list, please let us know in the comments. We’ll make sure to include it in our upcoming selections.

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