Best Gifts for Runners in 2020 That They’ll Actually Use

Running is not cheap. From a couple of pairs of sneakers in rotation to race prices and even chiropractor or doctor visits, the costs stack up. And then there’s the running accessories, nutrition, tech, and recovery tools.

It can be a lot, so if you’re looking for a gift for your favorite runner, give them something that’ll have them running to you to thank. We’ve compiled some of the best gifts for runners of all levels. Whether they’re starting Couch to 5K or training for their third marathon, the runners in your life will love our top picks.

Race Bib and Medal Holder

Who doesn’t want to show off their accomplishments? Keep bibs and medals together and on display with Running on the Wall’s race bib and medal holders. Choose from a variety of styles and additions, including single or double row medal displays, picture frames, and bib hooks.

The displays are fully customizable, from color and style to text and font. You can also opt for sanded or not sanded edges. You can add your name for ultimate personalization and also any inspiring words. Some displays already have popular inspirational quotes on them.

Soak up some motivation from one of the most popular runners in film, Forrest Gump, or Master of the Jedi arts and sentence structure, Yoda. These displays are personal and thoughtful gifts and make great reminders of all those hard-earned victories. Buy Here

Muscle Roller Massage Stick

Every runner knows that recovery is just as important as the distance and pace. Muscle rollers are one of the most common and effective recovery tools. They can be used before and after workouts to prevent injury and release lactic acid buildup, resulting in faster recovery.

While foam rollers are popular, handheld rollers are more portable and give you more control while rolling out. This muscle roller from Supremus Sports can be used on your whole body. Release tension and soothe soreness on your feet, legs, thighs, calves, glutes, IT bands, shoulders, neck, back, and more.

The roller is built to last and features comfortable non-slip handles. It’s an essential tool for any active person! Buy Here

Running Socks

Your socks are just as important as your shoes. Not only is this true for all shoes, but especially for runners. Running socks are very different from your run-of-the-mill regular socks and what you choose can be just as important as your shoes.

Many no-shows or ankle socks feature high heel tabs to keep the socks in place, a very important thing to have when you’re running. Other popular features runners look for in socks are blister protection and anti-chafing design and materials. Running socks are also usually made of moisture-wicking and breathable materials, such as mohair, Drynamix, and wool.

Many socks also have high-volume cushioning for comfort during extended training. Compression socks are also great options for increased blood flow and support for the calves. When in doubt, get them socks—you can never have too many! Buy Here

Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin’s the creme de la creme when it comes to GPS and activity trackers. The Forerunner 235’s Elevate wrist heart rate technology and smart features make it one of the best. This watch lets you track distance, pace, time, heart rate, and more. The Elevate tech measures heart rate at the wrist 24/7 for a real-time look at your heart rate zone and bpm.

Staying in the zone helps you keep pace and race your best. Stats automatically upload to Garmin Connect, so no data will be missed. More connected features include live tracking, audio prompts, smart notifications, and social media sharing. Activity tracking counts daily steps, distance, calories, and sleep.

Connect IQ allows for display customization, including watch faces, widgets, apps, and data fields. The Forerunner 235’s battery lasts up to nine days in Smartwatch Mode and up to 11 hours in GPS/ training mode. Buy Here

Running Belt

Carry all your essentials in a handy belt made for runners. Running belts are popular for stashing all you need on a run, and are especially useful for those longer endeavors.

While some runners find that their keys and phone are all they need and they can just use their pockets, armband, or carry in their hand, others need more, like gels, emergency cash, water, or battery packs. FlipBelt is one of the most popular running belts, allowing 360° storage and offering a lot of stretch thanks to its Spandex-Lycra blend.

Most running belts feature reflective logos or strips that are great for being seen at night. Running belts are often designed to have a comfortable and adjustable fit with promises of no bouncing or chafing. They are essential for any runner! Buy Here

“Running Is My Therapy”

You may scoff when someone says exercise releases endorphins, making you happier. If you’ve heard of a runner’s high, then you know many runners do experience a feeling of euphoria and less anxiety and pain at some point in their run. Scott Douglas’ “Running Is My Therapy” shows how endurance running can not only build strong muscles and a healthier heart, but helps you develop a healthier brain.

Douglas is a contributing editor for Runner’s World and has also been the editor of Running Times and Runner’s World’s news channel. This 288-page book, based on expert advice and his personal experience, explains how everyone can use running to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

“Running Is My Therapy” gives valuable insight and is a great read for anyone interested in the links between exercise and mental health. Buy Here

OOFOS OOahh Sport Recovery Slide Sandals

Slide into comfort and recovery after a long run with OOFOS slides. The OOFOS OOahh Sports Recovery Slide Sandals are powered by OOFOS’ ultra-comfortable OOfoam technology, which helps speed up recovery.

OOfoam technology absorbs 37% more impact than traditional foams and cradles your arches. The patented footbed reduces stress on sore feet, ankles, knees, and lower back, and also enables more natural motion. The slides are machine washable and the closed-cell foam minimizes odor.

They hold tight and conform to the foot for a comfortable fit. Available in many different colorways, the OOahh Sport makes the perfect thoughtful gift for any runner. These slip-on slides will help any runner recover faster and feel better!  Buy Here

Osprey Packs Duro 6 Running Hydration Vest

A hydration vest is one of the best gifts for a distance runner. The Osprey Packs Duro 6 lets you carry essential running gear on the trail, like gels, your phone, keys, extra layers, and more, so you’re ready for anything.

There’s ample storage, including a front panel zippered internal reservoir sleeve and stash pocket, a good place to store your phone and sunglasses. The vest includes an Osprey Hydraulics 1.5L reservoir with QuickConnect and sternum strap magnet for bite valve. The vest also has an accessible dual lower side panel zippered stretch mesh pockets, perfect to access snacks and gels. Lower stabilizing/ expansion compression straps and snap-in adjustable/removable dual chest straps give you customized stability.

There are also two extra-large stretch mesh soft flask/food harness pockets. If you’re off for a hike, a trekking pole attachment makes it easy to carry your gear. Buy Here

ROAD iD

Keep emergency information readily available on the wrist with ROAD iD. Popular for running, cycling, and medical identification, ROAD iD offers simple and snug metal faceplates for peace of mind. Put your name, emergency contacts, and even an inspirational message on the badge.

ROAD iD comes in many different formats, including the most popular trim-to-size Wrist ID Silicone Clasp. The silicone bracelet comes in a classic black and eye-catching colors like red and lime. ROAD iD also sells faceplates that slide into your Fitbit, Garmin, and Apple Watch.

They are form-fitted to your smartwatch and attach seamlessly. ROAD iDs are great sidekicks for any runner and great for emergency situations. Keep your info on your wrist and one less worry on your mind. Buy Here

Assorted GU Energy Gels Pack

Energy gels are a staple for extreme athletes. GU Original Sports Nutrition Energy Gels are what started it all. Since its development in 1993, the world’s first energy gel has been helping the world’s most successful athletes succeed.

The gels are highly compact, portable, and calorie-dense. The small packets are loaded with carbs that can be rapidly absorbed. Branched-chain amino acids in the gels also lessen muscle fiber damage and increase the speed of recovery. The added electrolytes help maintain water balance as well.

The variety pack includes many tasty flavors: Chocolate Outrage, Salted Caramel, Vanilla Bean, Jet Blackberry, Tri-berry, and Strawberry Banana. Some flavors have caffeine for increased concentration. Score! Buy Here

Tracer360

Visibility is one of the most important things for a runner. You’ll definitely be seen when you have this light show on! The Tracer360 is a revolutionary visibility vest—you can basically look like a rave show while you’re running (or cycling).

This all-season and rain-proof vest is comfortable, durable, and adjustable to be worn over clothes. It’s perfect for those night or early morning runs. The Tracer360’s unique, multi-color illumination modes are software-controlled and combine flash, strobe, and blink modulations in six different colors. The vest uses two powerful, efficient CREE LEDs for the effects.

The Tracer360 is breathable and has minimal fabric-to-body contact, so you won’t trap sweat. This vest will definitely catch everyone’s attention! Buy Here

Running Stroller

Parents are always running after their kids, so it seems like a two-birds-one-stone kinda deal to gift the runner dad or mom in your life a running stroller. Many running strollers feature large bicycle tires and lockable front swivel wheels that are important for low speed maneuvering and safety.

These types of strollers often have easy compact folding for storage or travel. Look for strollers with trays with cup holders for the parent and child for convenient hydration. Another important feature to pay attention to is if the handles are ergonomically shaped.

Rubber handles provide the best comfort and better maneuverability. You’d also want a stroller with good shock absorption suspension so the child has a smooth and comfortable ride. Buy Here

Vintage Sloth Running Team Shirt

Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare” is one of the most often told life lessons and fables. While it’s not a tortoise featured on this vintage-style t-shirt, a sloth delivers a similar message: there’s nothing wrong with being slow and steady.

A casual and chill sloth makes the perfect mascot for a runner who can relate to the “we’ll get there when we get there” mantra. It’s the journey! This hilarious t-shirt is perfect for the fun runner with a sense of humor.

It’s lightweight and features a classic fit with double-needle sleeves and bottom hem. The t-shirt comes in black, navy, and brown. Get a few and form a whole sloth running team! Buy Here

The RunnerBox

RunnerBox is one of the best subscription boxes geared toward runners. Gift a subscription starting at $20 every two months! The company’s mission is to introduce athletes to the best products that will motivate and support their active lifestyles.

RunnerBox is the first subscription box for endurance athletes and they’ve been handpicking the best products in the market since 2013. They do the research and testing to make sure everything in their boxes are current in the industry and will help athletes stay on top of their fitness. Products that have shipped in RunnerBoxes include snacks, spreads like Sunbutter, energy gels, anti-friction spray, sports tape, and massage/ recovery tools.

The value of each box ranges anywhere between $40-60, so it’s a great deal! Buy Here

Bose SoundSport Free

Once you go wireless, you can’t go back. Running with wired headphones nowadays is as rare as a sub-2:00 marathon. Well, maybe not that rare since it hasn’t happened yet, but close.

There’s just so much more freedom without wires. Bose is one of the best in the audio industry. Their SoundSport Free headphones are truly wireless in-ear headphones made for the toughest workouts. Although wireless, they’re engineered to give you clear, powerful sound so that “Eye of the Tiger” can really get you pumped up during that final stretch.

The earbuds are sweat and weather resistant and come with three different pairs of StayHear+ Sport tips for that perfect fit. The Bose Connect App has a “Find My Buds” feature, perfect for those who worry about losing one or both buds. The charging case provides two additional full charges, up to ten hours of battery life. Buy Here