Running is an activity that’s kept many people sane these past few months. Not only can you safely jog at a social distance, but it’s a happy place to clear your head, improve your heart health and take much-needed deep breaths.
While sadly many of the yearly marathons were canceled this year (not to mention the Olympics), we’re sure you still have a runner or two in your life who can’t get enough of their chosen sport. After all, when someone is a runner, you know it, since they’re often so passionate about it they rave about it constantly.
So what can you get them for their obsession? Here, we spoke with running experts, professional runners and podiatrists to recommend the best of the best running shoes, gear, accessories and more for 2020. Want more gift ideas? Check out all of them here, and check out our tips for making sure your gift arrives in time too.
Undeniably, shoes are the most important product in a runner’s toolbox. Without proper support and the right fit, they run the risk of injury. That’s why it’s worthwhile to invest in a quality pair of sneaks.
Asics Men’s Gel-Kayano 26 Running Shoes (starting at $94.95; amazon.com)
As a podiatrist, Dr. Velimir Petkov treats athletes and patients who love running, so he’s familiar with the challenges the sport causes. That’s why he recommends this shoe from Asics, which he says is extremely durable and sturdy, with sufficient arch support and shock absorption.
“They will help with those patients that are avid runners and want to wear what the professionals wear,” he adds.
Saucony Endorphin Speed (starting at $159.95; amazon.com)
Running has been part of Ally Parker’s life for 20 years: first in college, where she ran cross-country, as well as indoor and outdoor track. Then, as an adult, she’s crossed the finish line at many marathons, including New York City’s. Today, she’s an RRCA Level 1 Run Coach at Performix House and a certified personal trainer. And of all of the shoes, this one is the best, she says.
“The shoe is supportive and substantial for longer training runs, but also light and quick for speed workouts,” she explains. “It’s basically everything you need in one shoe!”
Asics Women’s Gel-Venture 7 Running Shoes (starting at $39.13; amazon.com)
Not only are these stylish and colorful, but Petkov says these shoes provide arch support and additional cushion. This is important for runners and walkers, especially those who have low or collapsing arches.
Brooks Women’s Adrenaline GTS 20 (starting at $97.99; amazon.com)
Another shoe that Petkov endorses is the Adrenaline GTS 20 from Brooks Running. To put it simply, it checks all of the boxes to keep runners safe while on the road or trail.
“They are extremely comfortable and provide a good combination of arch support, soft cushion, great shock absorption and sturdiness, which is paramount during running,” he continues. “They are also relatively light and can keep you running longer.”
Pants that fall down, shirts that ride up, a sweatshirt that feels too heavy, tops that aren’t breathable… Oof! Wardrobe malfunctions while on the run can break your stride and kill your spirit. Help your runner friend keep going with these top recommended picks.
New Balance Heat Grid Half-Zip Top ($89.99; newbalance.com)
While Keegan Draper would call himself an intermediate runner who logs 30 to 50 miles a week, he does have a degree in kinesiology, and he’s been a certified personal trainer for 10 years. Currently, he’s a fitness specialist for Mindbody, and he swears by this half-zip top for winter jaunts. Not only does he say it’s super comfortable and warm, but it also features a nice athletic fit.
“It’s perfect for those morning runs when it is just a bit too chilly during your warm-up but not too warm that it’s too hot while you run,” he adds.
Athleta Rainier Tight ($98; athleta.gap.com)
Dr. Jennifer Haythe is not only an associate professor of medicine in the Center for Advanced Cardiac Care at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, but she’s also a three-time NYC marathoner. It’s been her go-to exercise since high school, which means she’s had plenty of time to find *the* pair of running pants. As a tall person, she’s a fan of these, which are comfortable and soft and stay up.
Nike Therma Essential Men’s Running Pants ($75; nike.com)
It’s starting to get cold outside, but that won’t stop avid runners from bundling up for the great outdoors. But since they’re your pal and you don’t want them to freeze, consider this pair from Nike to keep them toasty. It’s lightweight and water-repellent so that they can focus on the road ahead — not their shivering bum.
Sweaty Betty Power Workout Leggings ($100; sweatybetty.com)
There’s a reason Sweaty Betty gear has a cult following: They’re stretchy, cozy and effective for all types of workouts, including running. This pair of leggings features sweat-wicking material that dries quickly, plus a side and back zip pocket.
Lululemon Surge Jogger ($118; lululemon.com)
No gift guide is complete without Lulus. Many runners swear by these lightweight joggers that move with every stride you take. Also sweat-wicking, these will keep your runner friend stay supported as they log another mile. As a bonus, they zip at the cuff, so runners can easily get in and out of them in a flash.
Running recovery gear
After lacing up, getting in the workout and chugging water, many runners block off time for recovery. This often includes foam rolling, stretching and even warm baths. Here are some much-needed recovery items:
The Stick Self-Roller Massager ($27.45; amazon.com)
As Draper has started to run farther and more frequently, he’s begun to realize how important his post-run recovery time truly is to his performance. To aid his stretching, he found this stick that’s easy to take anywhere and everywhere.
“What I love most is how small it is. I can get to all my smaller muscle groups,” he continues. “For me, it’s my calves after every run and to work out some soreness that a full-size foam roller is just too large to target.”
Hyperice Hypervolt Go Deep Tissue Percussion Massage Gun ($199; amazon.com)
In both high school and college, Melissa Perlman from RunningTips101.com was a champion runner, and today, she’s a marathoner with a goal to qualify for the Olympic Trials in 2024. When she’s logging those long miles, she uses this bad boy constantly.
“It’s your way to self-massage, and work out those sore muscles and knots in your legs, back, feet and so on,” she continues. “With the percussion gun in your life, you will be able to get out there and run day after day — and keep injuries away.”
From a fitness tracker to running belts and hats, these upgrade your running pal’s trains to the next level. How come? They make it easier — so they can enjoy the journey.
Everyday Nonmedical Masks, 5-Pack (starting at $14.99; athleta.gap.com)
These days, a quality, breathable face mask to wear while running is just as important as a warm jacket or leggings. We’re huge fans of these Athleta masks, which come in various shades and patterns and really stand up to sweat. You can check out more breathable mask options here.
Garmin Forerunner 35 (starting at $93.68, originally $169.99; amazon.com)
This top-rated watch on Amazon has built-in GPS and can track how far, how fast and where you run, plus it monitors your heart rate.
Ciele Athletics GoCap ($39.95; jackrabbit.com)
Generally speaking, Parker is a fan of Ciele hats since they can be worn during training sessions or everyday activities.
“This hat is perfect for long runs and workouts because it is breathable and moisture-wicking. Ciele hats work well to block the sun during the day and provide safety in the dark through their reflective details,” she adds.
Fila Running Belt Fanny Pack ($11.99; amazon.com)
Certified personal trainer Stephanie Mansour coaches clients on how to improve their workouts and runs, and finds this belt to be an effective way to stay organized. Especially in Covid times, when you have to lug around a mask, wipes and hand sanitizer, in addition to your phone, keys and snacks, having a place to stash everything is essential.
“This fashionable fanny pack is super practical and inexpensive,” she continues. “You can still be stylish, not weighed down by your belongings, and prepared to stop in for a fresh juice as a reward after an outdoor run.”
Arm & Hammer Invisible Spray Powder ($6.97; walmart.com)
For a stocking stuffer idea, consider this budget-friendly and incredibly useful spray powder. As recommended by functional podiatrist Dr. Emily Splichal, it can help your pal avoid sticky, smelly feet during and after their run.
Goodr Running Sunglasses ($35; amazon.com)
One of Perlman’s absolute go-tos for running is sunglasses. And her favorites come from Goodr. As she explains, because they are light, look cool and inexpensive, you can easily replace them if you lose them or have multiple pairs on hand for whenever you need them.
IHeartRaves Breathable Neck Gaiter ($9.95, originally $14.95; amazon.com)
Haythe says another excellent Covid-friendly running gift is a lightweight neck gaiter or bandana. She likes this one since it also benefits an important charity.
Zensah Smart Running Gloves With Touch-Screen Feature ($29.95; amazon.com)
Haythe says her hands always get cold as the cool and damp weather sets in, and a pair of soft, warm and lightweight gloves that work on touch screens are always great. These are inexpensive, sleek and pack easily in any pouch.