Last spring, I started running much more frequently. Since coming to school, I've been running 2+ miles everyday, and it's been GREAT. I certainly do not consider myself to be a cross country runner, but I simply love to run, so I've compiled a little gift guide consisting of items that I think would make great gifts for any runner --- the great thing about these gift ideas is that they are very practical.
As a little disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post, but I will throw in some brand names here and there --- the only products that I will specify by brand name are products that I myself own and would recommend to my personal friends! Aside from those, I'll just throw in some generic ideas but recommend brands that I've tried out to help you start your shopping search ;)
(Mom, this also means that you'll have to go elsewhere to find my wishlist ;] )
1. H&M Jersey Top: It seems natural to gravitate towards camp t-shirts (you know, the slightly baggy, unisex sized shirts) as workout tops, but after years of trying all different tops (from the camp t-shirts to the skin-tight/form-fitting tank tops), I've come to the conclusion that in-between, "goldilocks" tops (not too baggy but not too tight) are the most comfortable for working out in. H&M usually sells these tops with a deal ($10 for 2) -- last year, I bought two tops and I bought two more recently because I've simply worn them so much! I'm extremely impressed by the quality and comfort of these shirts even though they're inexpensive; I've worn these shirts with skirts and I've worked out in them and they haven't lost their shape/structure or color. (and let's be clear - I usually am not the person who buys the same shirt in multiple colors)
2. Base layer/thermal: This is something that'll be very appropriate for the winter season! While thermal tops like these tend to be form-fitting (which is slightly hypocritical considering my last recommendation), there are times when a runner wants to suit up and be prepared for the weather but not be bogged down by heavy layers. A thermal top under a "goldilocks"-like sweater or puffy vest is ideal. I have one by Eastern Mountain Sports (sold out, but similar one here) and a turtleneck one from Under Armour.
3. Running Leggings: I'm actually on the hunt for another pair as well since I wear mine almost everyday (:P). Leggings designed for running aren't the same as the ones designed for training - they should allow room for much more flexibility and movement. The one I have is by New Balance, but unfortunately, I can't find a link (I wish I could - then I'd be able to get another pair ;)!)
4. Socks: I don't think this one needs much explanation; both ankle cut and cute patterned ones are necessary!
5. New Balance 650v2 sneakers: This recommendation is very specific -- I searched everywhere last year for a perfect pair of sneakers, one that combines the sleek look of the classic Nike sneakers but with cushioning (I tried on many Nike sneakers and found that they were all too flat and hard). These sneakers are absolutely perfect, in my opinion, and they have just the right amount of cushioning (are you picking up on this "goldilocks" theme throughout this post?). I got mine from Nordstrom Rack, but I've left a simple Amazon link above.
6. Phone Armband: Go to TJ Maxx to find an inexpensive one! I swear that this has made my life so much easier; it's inconvenient to have to hold a phone while running, and armbands don't cost much, so it's a worthwhile investment to alleviate that inconvenience (about $7-8 from TJ Maxx).
7. Gloves: You can probably find a $2-3 pair from Walmart and add it to a stocking. Skin is easily chapped while out in the cold winter air for too long, so any runner will appreciate an extra pair of gloves!
8. Yoga Mat: Not all runners are yoga-enthusiasts and vice versa, but I think that anyone can benefit from a yoga mat. Yoga mats grant enough cushioning for stretching on or doing strength training on after a tough run (strength training after cardio is very important too, so I think that all runners should have a yoga mat!). You can probably find a wide variety on Amazon, but I think your safest bet is TJ Maxx (you can find high quality ones for decent prices, and you'll be able to feel the cushioning of the yoga mat for yourself). Yoga mats come in a variety of thickness, but I think the most popular ones are about 3mm thick (1/2 inch thick ones are very comfortable but are also bulky and may not have the greatest grip -- they slide very easily, which is not the best for anyone who is pursuing pilates/HIIT workouts).
9. Camelbak Chute: I had a regular Camelbak water bottle (the one with the straw and rubber mouth piece) for a while, and I absolutely loved it (convenient handle and it really did encourage me to drink more water as I carried it around everywhere), but I did not love the inconvenience of cleaning the little rubber mouth piece and the straw every week (which, might I say, is absolutely necessary). Luckily, Camelbak has released their "chute" cap, which actually fits on older models too (the traditional ones with the straw/mouth piece)! What's great is that Camelbak has a lifetime warranty on the little accessory parts, including the cap, so I was able to order a new chute cap using this feature for my older bottle. The only downside is that it's easy to not close the lid completely (leading to occasional, accidental spills), but I think that the Camelbak is universally a really great water bottle that anyone will appreciate.
And last of all, I just wanted to mention a few brands that I really like when it comes to workout gear:
- Gap: who knew that Gap would come out with such great workout gear?! I have a tank top from their workout line, and I have to say that even though it is on the form-fitting side, it's still loose enough and comfortable enough for me! I really like the quality of their workout clothing and I think that it's a great place to look to (especially when they have sales!)
- Champion: I have a pair of red running shorts from Champion, and they are extremely comfortable as well. Both the Gap tank top and the Champion shorts are made of that kind of material that allow for your skin to breath, and you can definitely get a few uses out of them without having to wash them after every use (this may sound gross, but let's be honest: who wants to buy an entire new wardrobe of workout gear, especially when workout gear can be pretty expensive? Also, who really sweats that much after every single workout? (if you do, then I'm truly impressed)
(I don't recommend the super cheap alternatives, like Forever 21's workout line, simply because quality and comfort are just so important when it comes to workout gear, and these cheap alternatives just aren't worth it. I'm able to get so much use out of my New Balance leggings because they are truly that high in quality and comfortable -- investments are important! There are little exceptions, like the inexpensive H&M workout tops, but I haven't found any exceptions for workout leggings/shorts yet.)