What to Buy the Runner in Your Life

There are people who say running is a cheap sport, that you just need a good pair of sneakers and a decent sports bra, if you’re a lady.

They’re clearly not addicted to gear like I am. While none of this stuff makes me faster, some of it makes things easier and all of it makes running even more enjoyable.

Below are my top picks for any runners on your holiday shopping list. Unless otherwise indicated, all items are things I’ve tried and love. And any Amazon links are affiliate links, FYI.

Under $25

Vanilla Bean Gu; $1.08 per on Amazon/$25.95 for a case of 24 (usually about $1-$1.50 in a running store

This stuff has gotten me through training and running two marathons and a whole bunch of halfs. It has caffeine, but doesn’t seem to bother my stomach and it sort of tastes like vanilla frosting. Its cousin, chocolate outrage, is equally awesome.


Gu Brew Peach Tea Tablets; $14 for 24 tablets

This stuff is like Nuun, but Nuun’s bothered my stomach, so I’m a Gu Brew girl. It’s has electrolytes and potassium to rehydrate you, like Gatorade, but a lot less calories.


Zico Coconut Water, $21.51 for a case of 12

Also awesome for hydration. Whether it’s from running…or too much wine. Either or.


Agloves, $17.99

These gloves are awesome to steal an iPad with. Or, you know, use your touchscreen phone/iPod while running in the cold without taking your gloves off. Same thing. They have some silver-y stuff in them which makes them work. Or magic. You may still find yourself taking your gloves off to text, though.


Foam Roller! $10.09

This is sort of the entry-level foam roller. The white kinds are the softest/least hardcore, but until I discovered another kind at physical therapy (more on this one later), I was completely fine with this one. If you’re not super injury-prone, this will do a good enough job getting all the crap out of your muscles. (More technical explanation here.)


Sparkly Soul Headband, $17

I wore this for an entire marathon, and it barely slipped. Plus, it’s purple and sparkly. That’s really all you need to know.


Thorlo Experia Socks; $12.50

Yes, $12.50 for a pair of socks. But these are not just any socks, my friends, they are magical. They’re made with Coolmax so your feet don’t overheat (trust me, it can happen. Running is sexy.) or stay wet. My mom bought them for me last year, and I’ve been hooked ever since. (Before that, I was a Feetures girl.)

Under $100


Nike Women’s Pro Compression Sports Bra, $27.95

So, I’m really weird in that I’m a 36C/34D, so average-to-slightly-larger chested, but I can wear almost any sports bra without discomfort or pain. I’m really not picky about sports bras at all. But with that said, I like this one. It’s comfortable and doesn’t smother me. Abs not included, sadly.


Skirt: Lululemon Run: Pace Setter, $58.

I ran the entire marathon in this and it didn’t chafe or ride, so it’s a winner.

Shirt: Brooks EZ T II. $18.71

Not too long, not too short, not too tight (I mean, I can’t blame the shirt for my muffin top), not too baggy. I threw it in the dryer a few too many times and it shrunk some, but I don’t think you’re supposed to put Dri-Fit stuff in the dryer, so that’s probably my fault.

Spibelt: $19.95

Holds all your stuff while you’re running.


Race Bling; $98 for limited-edition NYC version, $68-78 for other marathons

I love Erica, and all of her jewelry is gorgeous. This is perfect to celebrate someone’s achievement!


Trigger Point Massage Roller; $39.95-$69.98

See all the different sizes in the grids? Those help you apply different levels of pressure while rolling. It ranges from “ow, this kind of hurts” to “holy shit, please stop!”


Runner Medal Display; $40

Does the runner in your life have a bunch of medals in a box? These medal displays are a great way to show them off. I smile every time I walk past mine. Also, please note, every other race besides the NYRR races gives out good medals.


CEP Compression Socks, $59.95

These help with recovery. And they’re pink.


Saucony Pro Grid Guide 4; $53.16 – $157.58 <–Amazon is smoking crack. Don’t pay more than $100 for these. Or really, more than $90.

These are the shoes that I ran the marathon in and trained for the marathon in. If you need a little stability, these could be decent shoes for you, but I think I need a more neutral shoe like my last one, the Pro Grid Ride.

More Than $100


Garmin Forerunner 405, $159.77

If you’re not familiar with Garmins, they track your pace and distance. Once you start running with a Garmin, it’s hard to run without it. They’re addicting.

Runners: what are your favorite products? What do you want under your tree/Hanukkah bush/other holiday plant?

30 comments on “What to Buy the Runner in Your Life

  1. Lydia (@InhabitBeauty)

    How often do you partake of the Gu during your runs? Do you guage it by mileage or time?

    I’m building base mileage, right now, but start training for my first half marathon, in earnest on 1/1 and thought I should maybe get my act together and figure this stuff out!

    1. Theodora Post author

      I’ve heard you’re supposed to Gu about every hour or so, but I’m usually much more focused on the miles than the time, so I Gu every six miles-ish, since I run close to a 10:00 pace for long runs.

  2. Kim K

    these are great ideas – i struggle when my family/boyfriend ask what i want for christmas, bc usually i have no clue! love the medal hanger, and im out of my Powerbar Gels and drink mix, so i should ask for that.

  3. Victoria

    I’m not picky with sportsbras either… I just need to find one that I can wear, since I usually need to wear two. Maybe if I buy a decent one and stop being a cheap butt. Great list!!

  4. Liz @ An Interesting Year

    Love these! You’re so right about Garmins being totally addicting. This year, I’m hoping for a pair of compression tights and a Nathan’s handheld…if I don’t get them as presents for the holidays, I might just have to buy them myself 🙂

  5. Maribeth @ LOVEmyHANDLES

    Hi theodora!

    Where did you get the I <3 sweat tshirt? I'd love to give it as a present. I haven't seen it online from the Brooks website, but was thinking about going to jack rabbit or paragon to see if they sold it. Thaks so much!

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Maribeth @ LOVEmyHANDLES: Ali from Ali on the Run was selling them to raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. She’s not selling them right now, but keep an eye on her blog–she may be selling more. Even without the I <3 Sweat, I still love the Brooks tee that it's printed on.

  6. Amy

    I love those socks, too! My mother is a self proclaimed “sock snob” and apparently I’ve inharited it, but SO worth it!

    random q: does the glitter fall off the headband and end up in your hair/eyes/face?

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Amy: not at all! I’ve even accidentally washed it and the glitter didn’t go anywhere. It’s a really well-made headband.

  7. Whitney

    I just upgraded to the Trigger Point Roller (when Ashley recently suggested it) after having the basic white one for a while – definitely takes it to the next level.

  8. Allison

    Lots of lulu and a heart monitor watch are on my list this year! I’d love to get a medal holder but have to complete more races- it might feel a little bare ;P P.S. Fab headbands, I’m gonna look into those for a Christmas present to myself!

  9. Kimra

    I would be very happy to get a trigger point roller under the tree! Or actually not under the tree, because the tree will be in Michigan and that would be a hard thing to take on a plane, but y’know. (Have you ever seen at the Rumble Roller? It kinda makes me want to vomit just looking at it!)

    I was asking for a Nike+ GPS watch, but I bit the bullet and got it for myself. Soooo I am now asking for another pair of compression socks (silver ones!), a Nike running jacket, and a Runner’s World subscription.

  10. Kristina

    Gift certificate – for a massage – that would be great! I don’t often get a massage, but in the past year, either before or after an event, they’ve really helped!

    I love my Asics socks and have about 5 pairs of them. I’d love one more pair of compression socks too!

    Really good sunglasses. I broke my good pair in August (transitioning from swim to bike in a tri) and was so upset about it! These were “Native” and they were so awesome!

  11. Amber

    Great list! Question about the socks – why did you switch from Feetures? I actually just bought a couple of pairs of Feetures (because they are longer and cover the gap between my shoes and my tights). I’m liking them so far but I’ve not run more than 4 miles in them.

  12. Amanda

    Thank you for these ideas. As a new runner, I now know what to ask for my birthday in March (my Christmas presents have already been purchased).

    I love my spibelt. I even wear it at work when I’m running an event, but wearing a skirt/or dress with a sweater. It’s perfect to hold everything I need for my events.

  13. Dee Dee

    What a great list! Sometimes I see these lists and wonder if real people picked out the items but I have to say, I’d love for the running Santa to drop just about everything here off in my stocking!

  14. Laura

    I am SO psyched by that great price on Zico! I discovered its wonders when I had food poisoning, but now I am pretty obsessed with the chocolate kind as a way to have a healthy but chocolatey treat without doing much damage 🙂


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.