Sometimes knowing a keen runner can be a bit of a drag. Generally those times arise in the build-up to a big race when all they’ll talk about is that race, especially if they’re marathon training and maranoia has set in.
At other times, however, it’s a real blessing. Those times include any occasion that requires the purchase of presents, because keen runners never tire of getting more running stuff. As long as you get the right stuff, that is.
You can go all-out and pick one of the priciest running watches or pairs of running shoes, or you can simply stick to this list of superlative gifts for runners. We’ve grouped the gifts into different categories and given options to suit all budgets.
Or if you’re short on time, then we strongly recommend just picking up a set of the best running socks. No runner will ever be disappointed by unwrapping great socks.
The Best Gifts For Runners 2024
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This trio of gift options come from our round-up of the best running watches, so head there if you need more inspiration.
The Coros Pace 3 is an outstanding sports watch that offers accurate tracking and long battery life at a great price. It’s the best value sports watch you can get, and unless you want specific extra features like an AMOLED display or maps, there’s no need to spend more.
The Forerunner 55 is a fantastic entry-level watch that is easy to use and offers handy extras like suggested workouts each day, plus training plans you can follow on your wrist. It’s always in sales now, and the best pick on a budget this Christmas.
If you have a big budget then Garmin’s range is the place to spend it. The Epix Pro and Fenix Pro are also great options, but the Forerunner 965 has all of Garmin’s best features in a lighter, cheaper watch with a gorgeous AMOLED display.
We’ve tested an incredible amount of running socks, so you know these are great gift options, but if you want more to choose from check out our round-up of the best running socks.
Who doesn’t love unwrapping a pair of top-quality socks? Stance socks have the technical details runners look for, like being constructed from quick-drying material that keeps blisters and unpleasant odours at bay. Plus, the fantastic range of designs means you’re certain to find a pair your giftee will like.
Great for racing
Best waterproof socks
Runners rarely think of waterproof socks, but once you have them they become an invaluable part of your winter wardrobe. These Sealskinz socks are the gift that will keep on giving, because who doesn’t want warm, dry feet?
If you’ve settled on a set of buds as the perfect gift our full round-up of the best running headphones will give you more detail on the top options.
It shouldn’t be possible to get headphones this good for £25, and the Pop buds are often reduced to even less than that. They’re a great option for gift-seekers working with a budget, and were great for running when we tested them for this review.
What better gift to give than warm hands on winter runs? Here are three top options, with more available in our round-up of the best running gloves.
These convertible gloves have a mitt you can pull on or off as the situation demands, and are a great option all through the winter unless it’s particularly wet. They have reflective details and are soft and cozy, and the gloves have touchscreen compatible sections.
Best waterproof gloves
Waterproof gloves are a godsend when it’s cold and wet out, and the Gissing gloves are pretty breathable too, so your hands won’t get clammy on milder rainy days. In colder climates they’ll be the only gloves you need.
These lightweight gloves are a great value pick for those who live in milder areas, providing just enough warmth for winter runs without being too sweaty. They’re outrageously cheap too, making them a great Secret Santa option.
Books For Runners
Give your runner a great book to get their teeth into. You'll find more top picks chosen by writers and pros over on our round up of the best running books.
If you know a runner who has already completed several marathons and is looking for a new challenge, buy them this excellent book on ultrarunning. Author Adharanand Finn, who has penned a couple of our other favourite running books, attempts to discover what drives those hellbent on running vast distances, and tackles several ultramarathons himself, including the daunting 171km Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc.
Regular runners eat a lot of food. The Runner’s Cookbook is packed full of recipes that will help runners fuel their training and racing correctly so they can perform at their best. It’s especially useful for those about to embark on a long marathon training plan, who need to start thinking about how to eat to support the extra demands on the body. Of course an added bonus is that if you happen to live with this runner, you'll benefit from all the delicious and nutritious meals they’ll be making. Everyone’s a winner.
Few gifts manage to combine the inspirational and the practical as well as this bucket-list guide – it's one of the the best running books. Featuring travelogue-style write-ups of each route (including four in the UK and 13 elsewhere in Europe) along with useful details to help you attempt it yourself and similar suggestions, this gift can only be bettered by the addition of a couple of tickets to one of the destinations. St Davids in Wales, perhaps, for a coastal 13-mile (21km) loop, which you can read about in this exclusive extract.
More Gift Ideas For Runners
Runners spend more time than most tying and untying shoelaces, so save them a few seconds every day by buying them this set of quick-lock laces. As well as speeding up the time it takes to slip shoes on and off, especially in the winter when runners’ fingers go numb quickly, these also have the advantage of never coming undone on the run.
Runners have to deal with smelly shoes, and while you might worry that gifting them with a solution to this problem could be deemed a tad insulting, trust us when we say they’ll simply be happy to have a way to deodorise their shoes. This spray uses natural essential oils and enzymes to destroy any lingering smells, and it also works on bags, which is handy for runners who carry sweaty kit around.
Show us a runner who claims they pin their race number on perfectly first time every time and we’ll show you a liar. We all faff around with safety pins for several minutes before a race, making a load of holes in our expensive running T-shirts and vests, and sometimes our fingers as well. Solve that problem for someone by getting them these magnets. They’ll thank you every time they use them to attach a race number in fuss-free fashion.
This warm winter headband is made from reflective yarns so its shines brightly when light falls upon it, so the runner in your life will be both cozy and safe on their night runs. It comes in four colours—black, blue, teal and pink.
It may look like an ordinary baseball cap, but this running cap is lightweight and comfy, and the fabric is quick-drying so you won’t end up with sweaty hat hair. It’s compatible with a ponytail, and you can adjust the toggle at the back for a better fit. The hat has reflective elements and comes in five attractive colours.
More of the best running caps
This useful bundle contains electrolyte tabs and energy gels and chews, along with a PF&H bobble hat and bottle. It’s just what a runner needs to help kick-start their training in the new year, and we’ve found the electrolyte tabs help you recover from a festive hangover too.
Is there any greater gift you can give a runner than removing the risk of chafing in the most sensitive area of all? Runderwear underwear is seamless and made with a sweat-wicking fabric so the wearer need never worry about irritation again. You can choose from Runderwear briefs, g-strings, hot pants, long shorts, boxers and extra long boxers.
This high-capacity running belt sits tightly against the waist so it doesn’t bounce during your runs no matter how much stuff you pack into it. We’ve used it for a couple of marathons and are more than happy to recommend it. It’s a great present for anyone signed up to run a marathon in the new year, as they will need a practical way to carry essentials like gels and water bottles with them during training runs and the race itself.
More of the best running belts
Runners’ lips have it hard. Chapping is a constant concern throughout the winter months, while summer days bring the risk of sunburn. All three lip balms in this pack are SPF 25 rated (SPF offers stronger protection than UPF) and will keep the cold air at bay on chilly days, as well as soothing lips that have become chapped.
A gift for both the runner you know and the environment at large. Pop your synthetic running gear in the bag before putting it in the washing machine and it will catch plastic microfibres shed by the clothes during the wash so they don’t end up polluting rivers and oceans. It might not be as snazzy as unwrapping a new bit of running gear, but once you explain what the bag does we’re sure any runner you know will appreciate it.
Runners put their feet through a lot of hard work, and after an especially tough run or race there’s nothing better for them than slipping these recovery sliders on. The ample cushioning is shaped to support arches and generally make things a little easier on your lower body in the hours after a challenging run. They’re also good for relieving the pain of plantar fasciitis.
More recovery sandals
Start a timer when your giftee slips these on their feet on Christmas morning, because we wager it will be a long time before they choose to take them off. The Revive recovery shoes are very comfortable and feel particularly fantastic after a hard run. They come in a wide range of colours, too.
Last Minute Gift Ideas
Gift vouchers get a bad rap, but they are a great gift for picky runners who you don’t want to disappoint by buying the wrong shoes or other gear. You might feel like it’s a cop out, but trust us when we say any runner will be delighted to get a voucher to spend at their favorite store.
Sports Shoes: Gift vouchers from £5 to £50
Nike: Gift cards up to £400
Runners Need: Gift cards from £5
Wiggle: Gift vouchers from £5 to £250
Adidas: Gift cards from £5 to £250
Dick's Sporting Goods: Gift vouchers from $5 to $500
Adidas: Gift cards from $25 to $250
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
- Camilla ArtaultContent editor