A Belated Gift Giving Guide for Friends and Family of Runners

Here’s the dealio, runners are picky as crap with their gear. Giving us (yes, I just did refer to myself as a runner; let’s not make a big deal of this) gifts is a treacherous business.

Because I don’t have family who reads this, I can say this safely: I’ve received multiple gifts the past few years to run in, and only three have been used running (including one that caused chafing issue and isn’t used without an extra layer any more). I’ve somehow used what I was given, but I didn’t use it how it was intended, and I know that would make the gifter feel bad. And I don’t want you to feel bad. I want to help you out.

If you’re a runner, then you don’t really need this, but maybe your have loved ones who could take a hint. My suggestion? Say, “Hey, I read this interesting article. It was pretty funny (it probably won’t be). You should check it out.”

So yeah. Let’s get rolling. I’ll do my best. I’m not one of those nuts that trains for marathons and halves, but I run just enough to sympathize (you know without actually having my toenails fall off).


Honestly, just stay away from shoes. These are dangerous. This is the most important gear for a runner. They know what they want. No need for surprises.

If you insist on buying shoes, buy them EXACTLY what they ask for. Don’t go cheap. Don’t go a half size off. Don’t get a newer or older edition of the shoe. They change every year.

And again, really, you should stay clear. I’m a proponent for getting fitted every time so you can make adjustments gradually as needed.


Ok, socks are cool. You might still ask them what they prefer, but socks aren’t as dangerous as shoes. I know some legit runners who still just use regularish socks for running. Of course, I also know some who get super picky about socks, so check. If nothing else, you might be able to just snag a pair from them when they’re not looking and write down what they use.


This is the only gift I’ve received that I’ve been able to use (and only 2 of the 4 I’ve been given for running actually are good fits).

Get a tech shirt that fits, and you’re probably ok. I’m speaking as a dude, so maybe gals have different wants/needs for their shirts. For me with warm-weather shirts, I just need it to fit, not too baggy and not tight. I was actually gifted a shirt that would be perfect if it didn’t fit like a tent. So try to be mindful of the person receiving the gift.


I’m shocked I don’t get more shorts. These are the least important item in the arsenal. I have a pair of Pumas that I love to run in, though I’m not sure they’re even fully geared for running. They don’t come with that liner that will make a newbie (or anyone for that matter) feel a bit self-conscious in public.

But for real, find their size and see what their general preference is, and you’ll probably be fine. Shorts are shorts.


I’d steer clear here too. Underpants-related injuries aren’t the most common thing in the world but support and chafing are sensitive subjects when you’re dealing with sensitive subjects.

Every runner is bound to have über-specific preferences here, so I’d just leave it be. If you insist, ask. Ask. Ask. And then double check. I mess up trying to buy my own running underoos because sometimes brands will make some change or not label something clearly.

And you know what? Some people don’t run in underwear. Men’s running shorts have a built-in liner a lot of the time. And that’s it. Yeah. Keep that in mind the next time you see a bunch of people running. There’s a good chance that a good chunk of them aren’t wearing underwear, just some sort of liner in their shorts.


This one probably isn’t that difficult. If there’s something they don’t have that they want, they’re probably bitching about not having it on social media, on the phone, in person, with smoke signals, etc.


For everything else, if they haven’t mentioned wanting it or mentioned their current gear wearing out, don’t try to do them a solid. Runners are like cats. The smallest change can really throw them off and then they’re trying to eat your food and peeing in your closet. Ok, maybe just the former.

At the End of the Day

If you give the runner something, they’ll probably find a use for it. Most of the “running” gear I’ve been given is still useful workout gear (or useful sitting on the couch gear), so if they don’t use it to run, they might be using it for something else.

And want a fail safe? Gift cards. Like all other consumer-driven beings, give us a gift card and we’ll figure out a way to use it (as long as it’s a store we can go to or want to go to; I think I had a string of 3 or 4 Christmases in a row where I got a gift card for something I wouldn’t couldn’t use, including a store that wasn’t in the town I lived in and for Starbucks, the non-coffee drinker that I am).



P.S. The Super Awesome Year of Me starts tomorrow. Ideas are great. Actually following through on them? Not so much. Oh well, 10,000 steps, here we come.


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