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33 amazing gifts runners actually want

·18 min read
The best gifts for runners in 2021.
The best gifts for runners in 2021.

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Gifts for athletes can be tricky, particularly for runners. Who'd have thought that a sport that basically only requires sneakers could have so many different accessories to go with it? But fear not—you don’t need to have your favorite runner’s shoe size memorized to buy the perfect runner gift this holiday season.

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We’ve come up with a list of amazing presents—chosen by our on-staff runners, including a certified running coach—for anyone who enjoys logging a few miles on foot, from the couch-to-5Ker to the multiple marathoner. These are the best gifts for runners of 2021, according to Reviewed.

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1. For the one whose muscles are always tight: The best foam roller

Best gifts for runners: LuxFit & TriggerPoint Foam Rollers
Best gifts for runners: LuxFit & TriggerPoint Foam Rollers

If you live with a runner, you've probably gotten more of a lesson in muscle anatomy than you expected after high school biology class. Instead of listening to one more complaint about tight hamstrings, IT bands or piriformis muscles, give our top-pick foam roller for easing out those niggling aches. For those with limited space, wrap up the TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller—same outcome for their muscles, but easier to store (plus, it comes in fun bright colors, like lime green and hot pink).

2. For the one who runs to music or podcasts: Sweat-proof workout headphones

Best gifts for runners: Jabra Elite 65t
Best gifts for runners: Jabra Elite 65t

Two (hyphenated) words come to mind when considering headphones for running: "sweat-proof" and "stay-put." The Jabra Elite Active 65t are some of the best true-wireless headphones we've tested, with the bonus feature of being water resistant. And even better, they earned our Best Value accolades for costing $100 less than the (not designed for running) AirPods Pro.

Get the Jabra Elite Active 65t from Amazon for $99.99

3. For the one who want to record all their stats: A GPS watch

Best gifts for runners: Garmin Forerunner 245
Best gifts for runners: Garmin Forerunner 245

Any runner who graduates from "occasional jogs" to "regular runs" will appreciate a GPS watch, which puts mileage, pace and time stats on the wrist in real-time and keeps a record of all miles run to allow improvement analysis.

The Garmin Forerunners are the best out there, as our test of the best running watches. Our runners deemed the sporty-look Forerunner 245 tops for its easy-to-use buttons, large readable screen and feature-packed tracking. Plus, it also stores music, including offline Spotify playlists, which play over any pair of Bluetooth headphones. For the same tops notch experience, with fewer bells and whistles (and a lower price tag) our runners loved the Forerunner 55 for its reliable GPS and post-run data.

4. For the one whose flexibility could use a tune-up: A stretching strap

Best gifts for runners: The Original Stretch Out Strap
Best gifts for runners: The Original Stretch Out Strap

Facts: When you can't touch your toes, it's really tough to stretch out the hamstrings, the large muscles that comprise the backs of the thighs that get especially short and kinked up from—you guessed it—running. (Ask your favorite runner to try, but plan to stifle your giggles when there's a foot or more distance from the fingertips to the floor.) This stretch strap fills the gap of, er, too-short arms and creates traction to deepen the stretch. It also comes with a how-to guide for the newbie to flexibility training.

Get the Original Stretch Out Strap from Amazon for $15.95

5. For the one who's always squinting: Slip-proof sunnies

Best gifts for runners: Goodr OG sunglasses
Best gifts for runners: Goodr OG sunglasses

Unlike regular sunglasses, sports shades have more than one job. They have to dim the sun, of course, but also reduce glare and not slide down the nose once things get sweaty. Goodr OG sunglasses do it all, for a great price, in funky colors with even funkier names (pictured here: Sunset "squishee" Brain Freeze). Just check with your giftee first to see which, er, shades they already own. Trust us: You can never have too many Goodrs.

Get the Goodr OG sunglasses from REI for $25

6. For the one who also needs some zen: The best yoga mat

Best gifts for runners: The lululemon Reversible Mat
Best gifts for runners: The lululemon Reversible Mat

Runners usually like one thing and one thing only ... running. But to reduce the risk of injury and give muscles a much-needed break between runs, yoga is a great change of pace. Your favorite runner can find a flow on our favorite yoga mat. Whether turning on some YouTube yoga in the living room or doing their own thing, this mat will ensure zero slippage and plenty of cushion.

Get the lululemon Reversible Mat 5mm from lululemon from $78

7. For the one who doesn’t leave home without a smartphone: A no-bounce belt

Best gifts for runners: SPIbelt Performance Series Water-Resistant Running Belt
Best gifts for runners: SPIbelt Performance Series Water-Resistant Running Belt

Though running phone-free is appealing, sometimes it pays to bring along a smartphone, whether to use it with a tracking app like Strava, to check directions, or to make a call in case of emergency. The SPIbelt Performance Series Running Belt stretches to fit extra-large phones plus keys and cash for a post-run smoothie. It's made of water-resistance material to keep contents from getting damp from rain (or from body sweat). Double loops in the band hold gels for easy access during long runs. The best part: It will not bounce.

Get the SPIbelt Performance Series Water-Resistant Running Belt from Amazon from $19.99

8. For the one who craves shade: A secure visor

Best gifts for runners: Headsweats Supervisor Sun Visor
Best gifts for runners: Headsweats Supervisor Sun Visor

In case you're not yet sensing a theme: Runners like gear that won't annoy them while they're running. For that reason, hats aren't everyone's must-have, but for those of us who appreciate a good brim for keeping sun at bay, security is almost as important as comfort. The Headsweats Supervisor Sun Visor ticks both boxes and comes in a ton of solid colors (ripe for printing with a logo), plus entertaining designs such as cactus and Bigfoot.

Get Headsweats Supervisor Sun Visor from Amazon starting at $13.80

9. For the one who needs a little TLC: Targeted massagers

Best gifts for runners: Theragun G3
Best gifts for runners: Theragun G3

Being a runner comes with that glorious runner’s high, but it also comes with plenty of aches and pains. Instead of shelling out cash for a one-time massage, get the runner in your life a massage tool that keeps on giving. We reviewed massage guns and found that the Theragun is, indeed, all it's cracked up to be, in terms of delivering the deep-tissue stimulation you'd expect for the $399 price. (We also found that the less-expensive VYBE Percussion Massage Gun is another worthwhile option, though it's not as adept at reaching hard-to-attack spots on the back.)

If your runner complains of sore feet, especially those plagued by plantar fasciitis, they may benefit from the TheraFlow Foot Massager, which is as gentle or intense as the pressure placed upon it. It's a great gift at a stocking-stuffer price.

10. For the one whose feet feel all the pounding: An electronic massager

Best gifts for runners: Renpho Foot Massager
Best gifts for runners: Renpho Foot Massager

Sometimes a runner's feet need a little more TLC, and depending on your recipient, this could be a two-for-one gift. If you have someone who begs for foot rubs after every run and you are not a foot-rub-giving fan, well, then it's time to invest in the best foot massager we tested, from Renpho. Your happy runner can shove their tortured tootsies inside the kneading cavities and ooh and ahh to their heart's content—while your hands and attention can be otherwise occupied.

Get the Renpho RF-FM059R foot massager from Amazon for $129.99

11. For the one who runs cold: Winter weather accessories

Best gifts for runners: Smartwool Headband & REI Coop Liner Gloves
Best gifts for runners: Smartwool Headband & REI Coop Liner Gloves

As the hashtag goes, #runnersgottarun, even as temps fall. While the blood is pumping to keep arms and legs flying and the core temperature up, the extremities—particularly the hands and ears—often suffer most. Enter the Smartwool Headband, made of super-soft, sweat-wicking merino wool, which keeps ears toasty without causing the head to overheat, and the Achiou Winter Knit Gloves , which come in three different sizes and are tech-compatible for checking a smartphone mid-run.

12. For the one who's prone to blisters: A really good pair of running socks

Best gifts for runners: New Balance Cushion Quarter Socks
Best gifts for runners: New Balance Cushion Quarter Socks

You might not be able to give your favorite runner the gift of speed, but you can always give them the next best thing—comfy socks. While this might seem like a basic gift, trust us, it's not. These comfortable, moisture-wicking socks from New Balance provide ample cushioning and blister protection, which is music to a runner's ear. With mesh ventilation for added breathability and a reinforced heel and toe for durability, your runner will be able to run miles in comfort without having to worry about where their next blister will appear.

Get the New Balance 6-pack Performance Unisex Cushion Quarter Sock for $17.99

13. For the one who strength-trains: A resistance band set

Best gifts for runners: Whatafit Resistance Bands Set
Best gifts for runners: Whatafit Resistance Bands Set

Surprise: To get stronger and faster as a runner, it's essential to build muscle, not just pound pavement. There's only so much to gain with small lightweight dumbbells (that is, not much), but investing in a full set of weights is costly and takes up a ton of room. A space (and budget) friendly option: A set of resistance bands, like this one from Whatafit. It comes with five resistance levels, which you can combine to make exercises even harder, as well as handles and ankle straps to strengthen the entire body.

Get the Whatafit Resistance Bands Set from Amazon for $21.22

14. For the one who is building a home gym: Bowflex10

Best gifts for runners 2021: Bowflex Treadmill 10
Best gifts for runners 2021: Bowflex Treadmill 10

Ask any runner and they can confirm—the hardest part about going for a run is those first few steps out the door. With one of the best treadmills our team has ever tested though, your giftee won't even have to leave their home in order to start getting the miles in. Plus, this won’t be just another boring treadmill run. The Bowflex Treadmill 10 offers a chance to escape the confines of your home with Jrny, Bowflex's workout platform. Offering AI-powered adaptive workouts, which grow progressively harder as you use them more, the runner in your life will be able to challenge themselves without worrying about having to come up with a workout on their own.

As an added bonus, these workouts take place literally all over the world with Jrny's "Explore the World" feature, which shows footage from running routes from every corner of the globe. Trust us, every runner gets bored of their normal running route (and we’ve all been cooped up inside long enough) so a fresh perspective on a new, albeit, virtual route, is bound to put a spring in their step.

Get the Bowflex Treadmill 10 for $1,999

15. For the one who runs in crowded areas: Athleta face mask

Best gifts for runners: Athleta Non-Medical Face Mask
Best gifts for runners: Athleta Non-Medical Face Mask

For those who like to run through the city or who hit the gym, a face mask is now a part of the workout uniform. Our favorite cloth face masks are the Athleta Everyday Non-Medical masks, which you can buy in a pack of five. These masks are breathable and lightweight, so they’re comfortable to wear for long periods of time, even while exercising.

Get the Athleta Everyday Non-Medical masks for $25

16. For the one who goes out at odd hours: Reflective accessories

Best gifts for runners: Amphipod Xinglet & ReflecToes & Petzl Tikkina
Best gifts for runners: Amphipod Xinglet & ReflecToes & Petzl Tikkina

When daylight hours are short and filled with annoying time-sucks like, ya know, jobs, dedicated runners must head out before and after the sun does its thing. The Amphipod reflective vest makes runners highly visible to traffic (and looks less dorky than many), while clip-on lights make a flashy show of every footfall. If it's really dark out, a simple headlamp can light the way.

17. For the one whose calves complain: Compression legwear

Best gifts for runners: 2XU Compression Performance Run Sleeves
Best gifts for runners: 2XU Compression Performance Run Sleeves

In case you haven't caught on, there are basically two things runners hold most dear: Getting better at running and not getting injured in the process. The scientific jury is out on whether wearing compression sleeves during a workout aids in performance, but if it feels good, why question it?

Compression for recovery, however, is well researched, as the gentle pressure can improve blood flow, flushing the byproducts of training and bringing oxygen to worn-out muscles. In our test of compression socks, our top pick from Figs provided the right amount of tension—they're designed for health professionals who spend a lot of time on their feet—and a smile, thanks to their quirky medical-themed prints.

18. For the one who get cold post-run: A cozy fleece

Best gifts for runners: Patagonia Better Sweater
Best gifts for runners: Patagonia Better Sweater

Another runner theme worth noting while shopping for gifts: We're very temperature-sensitive. Even if it's cold out, we work up a sweat. Then we finish and are suddenly very, very cold. When you present the Patagonia Better Sweater, suggest your recipient stash it in the car for post-run warmth. You'll get brownie points for paying attention and for gifting something far more stylish than a sweatshirt.

Get Patagonia Better Sweater from Patagonia for $119

19. For the one who is a new parent: A running stroller

Best gifts for runners: BOB Rambler Stroller
Best gifts for runners: BOB Rambler Stroller

A new addition to the family doesn't need to spell the end to a parents' little hobby. Nay, they can raise 'em up right by plopping the baby into a jogging stroller as soon as the pediatrician says the little one has good enough head control (at about eight months old). This stroller from BOB gets great reviews for pavement running, and is a bargain compared to many out there (yes, really).

Get the BOB Rambler Stroller from Amazon for $449

20. For the one whose only post-run joy is a bath: Relaxing epsom salts

Best gifts for runners: Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt Muscle Recovery Soak
Best gifts for runners: Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt Muscle Recovery Soak

Epsom salts is the layperson's term for magnesium sulfate, a mineral compound known for its soothing and healing effect on muscles. This formula, from Dr. Teal's, adds in arnica, a homeopathic pain reliever, and fragrant eucalyptus and menthol, which will assure your giftee that it's working from first whiff.

Get Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt Muscle Recovery Soak (3-pack) from Amazon for $22.80

21. For the one who knows that torture can aid recovery: Ice packs for cold soaks

Best gifts for runners: Ice packs
Best gifts for runners: Ice packs

For some runners, sore muscles are par for the course—and even a badge of honor—once running has become a way of life. After a tough workout, an unpleasant but effective way to stave off future discomfort is to take an inflammation-reducing ice bath. If your runner ravages the freezer’s stock after every speedwork day, give them this set of four ice packs to float in the bathtub instead. These colorful packs keep the water plenty cold during that hurt-so-good dip and are reusable. (Just remind them to wash 'em between baths.)

Get the TruHealth Ice Packs set of four from Amazon for $12.95

22. For the one who thinks running is an art form: A print of a favorite race

Best gifts for runners: RunInk course maps
Best gifts for runners: RunInk course maps

Yes, running can be an art form in itself—especially if you take course maps and frame them on the wall. Run Ink reimagines popular race routes in the U.S. and around the world as colorful graphics. So the next time your runner friend is reminiscing about a race, he or she will have a compelling visual aid. Run Ink sells cute coordinating coffee mugs, too.

Get a Run Ink Course Map Race Print from Amazon for $19.99 and up

23. For the one who wants to go it solo safely: Road iD

Best gifts for runners: Road iD shoe tag
Best gifts for runners: Road iD shoe tag

Not all runners want to bring along a phone or even their license. If you have such a free spirit on your shopping list, give yourself some peace of mind by giving them a Road iD. These shoe tags attach to the laces and list the wearer’s name and any medical conditions and a contact to call in case of emergency (ahem, you). After all, no one thinks it will happen to them, but it does happen to someone—let that be your argument when you present this present.

Get the Road ID premium shoe tag from Amazon for $19.99

24. For the one who run-walks: A Gymboss timer

Best gifts for runners: Gymboss timer
Best gifts for runners: Gymboss timer

Not every runner is tech-obsessed … and not every runner runs consistently throughout their workouts. For the dedicated walk-runner, who alternates time spent at a faster clip with bouts of recovery walking, the Gymboss timer will keep them on task. They can set two (or more) timers to go off at any interval desired, and this little clip-on device beeps to indicate when to pick up the pace and when to take a breather.

Get the Gymboss Interval Trainer from Amazon for $19.95

25. For the one who has a good sense of humor about their hobby: A running-themed t-shirt

Best gifts for runners: Funny t-shirts
Best gifts for runners: Funny t-shirts

Runners first favorite thing is to run. Their second favorite thing: talking about running. But they also (probably) know that not everyone wants to hear it, so any runner will appreciate a funny tee that speaks for them. Etsy has about a million options, ranging from everything from "Did I mention I ran a freaking marathon?" to "If I collapse please pause my watch".

26. For the one who appreciates multifunctional gear: A headband-slash-neck gaiter

Best gifts for runners: Buff Multifunctional Headwear
Best gifts for runners: Buff Multifunctional Headwear

In warmer weather, a runner needs a sweatband to keep beads of perspiration from flooding into their eyes. Sometimes, a wide headband is handy for keeping hair off the face. And when it's really cold out, a neck gaiter does wonders for retaining warmth, and even covering the lower half of the face to protect against windburn—and, in a pinch, as a stand-in for a face mask to run into a store for some Gatorade. By giving the Buff Multifunctional Headwear, your runner recipient gains all four, in any of about a zillion colors and patterns.

Get the Buff Multifunctional Headwear from Amazon from $16.69

27. For the one who doesn’t let a little snow stop them: Yaktrax

Best gifts for runners: Yaktrax running cleats
Best gifts for runners: Yaktrax running cleats

Most die-hard runners will go out in any weather condition. The one that’s the most challenging, though, is snow and ice. For surer footing on slippery streets, get your favorite (crazy) runner some Yaktrax. These external treads clip over the soles of any running shoes, adding spiky traction that digs into muddy trails, crusty snow and slick ice alike.

Get YakTrax Run Traction Cleats from Amazon starting at $39.94

28. For the one who wants to share their passion with their best friend: A hands-free running leash

Best gifts for runners: Hands-free running leash
Best gifts for runners: Hands-free running leash

Hitting the roads or trails with a trusty pooch is a joy for both owner and dog. But off-leash running is generally frowned upon (if not illegal), and holding a leash by hand is less than ideal for the running mechanics of the human. This hand-free leash clips around the runner’s waist and has several grab handles plus bungee sections that provide some give for those moments when Fido gets overeager about his pace or, say, spots a squirrel.

Get the iYoShop Hands Free Dog Leash from Amazon for $15.99

29. For the one who always needs new shoes: A gift card to Road Runner Sports

Best gifts for runners: Road Runner gift card
Best gifts for runners: Road Runner gift card

Buying running shoes is a very individual thing. So unless you know exactly the brand, model and size your runner giftee likes, your best course is not to pick out specific kicks, and offer up a gift certificate from Road Runner Sports instead. The retailer carries all of the major brands, and with a $2.99 VIP membership, offers free shipping and returns (even after being worn!) for 90 days if the shoes don’t work out. And as the runner will be doing their own shopping, they’ll have no one to blame for their blisters but themselves.

Get a gift card from Road Runner Sports

30. For the one who wants to keep running clothes smelling fresh: Sports wash for clothes

Best gifts for runners: HEX detergent
Best gifts for runners: HEX detergent

This many not be the sexiest gift, but you know what’s even less sexy? Running clothes that reek even before the runner’s left the house. Those great performance fabrics that wick sweat also have a nasty tendency of harboring odor-causing bacteria. The more that builds up, the more stick wafts out the moment the clothes hit a warm body, even if they’re fresh from the laundry. To reduce the inevitable, get them Hex Performance Laundry Detergent. It leaves laundry smelling clean and won't build up on performance fabrics like regular detergent can, prolonging the odor-free life of the clothing.

Get HEX Performance Laundry Detergent, 2-pack, from Amazon for $23.99

31. For the one who goes the distance: A hydration backpack

Best gifts for runners: Running hydration backpack
Best gifts for runners: Running hydration backpack

The likelihood of finding a park drinking fountain during winter, let alone a global pandemic, is close to nil. That means that carrying water for longer runs especially has become even more necessary. The REI Coop Swiftland vests hold bladders up to five liters, and includes a 1.5-liter bladder that’s easy to sip through the bite-activated straw tube. The pack straps snugly to the body to reduce uncomfortable bouncing and chafing, and it comes in a men's cut in three sizes and a women's cut in four sizes for more customized comfort.

32. For the one who wants to show their blingier side: A motivational bracelet

Best gifts for runners: A motivational bracelet
Best gifts for runners: A motivational bracelet

Runners don't always wear spandex. For those times when they're in regular clothes, too, a simple, silver motivational bracelet jazzes up any outfit and lets your runner know they're on your mind and you're rooting for them. This one from Etsy is can be custom engraved on the inside, too, with a name, special motto or words of support to keep them going even if they hit the dreaded wall. And this cuff is simple enough in design that they won't need to ever take it off, not even (or especially) when they run.

Get the "One mile at a time" personalized bracelet from Etsy from $18.04

33. For the one you know a bit too well: Anti-chafing balm

Best gifts for runners: Body Glide
Best gifts for runners: Body Glide

There's something to be said about your relationship to a runner if you know that he or she would benefit from Body Glide. While running isn’t a contact sport with other people, it can be one with your own two legs, or between your shirt and your skin (if you don't know, don't ask). With a deodorant-shaped stick of Body Glide, your favorite runner can say farewell to chafing, and you can say goodbye to listening to them complain about it.

Get Body Glide from Amazon for $9.99

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This article originally appeared on Reviewed: 33 best gifts for runners 2021: Gift ideas runners actually want

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