The Good Stuff Runners REALLY Want for Christmas: A Fast and Fabulous Gift Guide

Happy Holidays, fast and fabulous friends! Yes, today’s post is yet another what-to-get-your-runner-for-Christmas gift guide. Cliche, I know, but this gift guide is different and better than all the other runner gift guides out there because it highlights myriad exotic, luxurious, novel, and all-around fabulous items that runners desire and covet, but might feel frivolous purchasing for themselves. That’s how you know these things make awesome gifts. So this one’s for you, non-running family members, friends, and significant others of runners who appreciate fashion, function, fun, and whimsy. This gift guide is guaranteed to save you from the shame of defaulting to the generic Visa gift card and it is sure to earn you the title of gift-giving super-star come Christmas morning. You’re welcome.

Now I don’t know about you guys, but as a humble fitness professional and running store employee I must adhere to a fairly tight budget when it comes to holiday shopping. Thus, I took the liberty of keeping all the gifts featured in this post, right down to the fanciest and most fabulous, under $100. So without further ado, let’s talk about the good shit the runner in your life wants for Christmas!

The Extravagant and Luxurious: For that Special Someone You REALLY Want to Impress:

Podium Pajamas from Oiselle, $64.00 Help your favorite runner say yes to that thing they need to do more of, but most likely struggle mightily with on account of their go-getter Type-A runner personality: relaxing. Even the most tightly wound, certifiably ADHD of runners will find themselves counting down the miles of their long run separating them from chilling out these fantabulous PJs. (This is the voice of experience speaking.) Their super-soft fleecey-ness more than qualifies them as the ultimate pre-race/ post-long run napping bliss! And they come with a bonus inspirational message printed on them at no extra charge! If they aren’t already at the top of your favorite runner’s holiday wish list, then they should be!

Oiselle's Podium Pajamas. Perfect for pre-race slumber parties, post-run chillaxing, and story time with your 8 year old BFF.

Oiselle’s Podium Pajamas. Perfect for pre-race slumber parties, post-run chillaxing, and story time with your 8-year-old BFF.

Holiday Sweater Tech Shirt from InknBurn.com, $69.95 I know what you’re thinking. “$69.95 sounds like an awful lot of money for a running shirt!” And you’re right, 70 bones for a mere piece of dry fit material borders on extravagant, but trust me, this is worth it. My running BFFs and I were so enamored by/ jealous of our friend Karen’s ugly Christmas sweater tech shirt that we just couldn’t wait to order our very own. And boy, are we glad we did! The joy we get from running around in those sweat-wicking sweaters, and better yet, the looks we get from other runners as our band of merry sweater-wearers passes by are worth every penny of that $69.95. So give the gift that keeps on giving this holiday season and get your favorite fun-loving runner an over-priced, but totally worth it holiday tech shirt.

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Holiday sweater tech shirt from inknburn.com, $69.95. Endless joy and holiday-themed runs for the #1 runner on your shopping list, priceless.

Pedicures! $25.00 to $70.00 I mean, who doesn’t love a little pampering on someone else’s dime? And let’s face it, runners’ feet generally need all the help they can get. Also, I find it secretly thrilling to watch the nail tech lady wince at my sundry calluses and black toe nails and I enjoying making up stories in my head about what she must surely be saying to her fellow nail techs about how disgusting they are. But maybe that’s just me… At any rate, suffice to say that runners like getting pedicure gift certificates for holiday gifts.

An unfortunate (but festive) non-professional pedicure. Give your runner a pedi gift certificate so their feet don't end up looking like this.

An unfortunate, yet festive non-professional pedicure. Give your runner a pedi gift certificate so their feet don’t end up looking like this.

Functional, Yet Fabulous: For the No-Nonsense Runner Who Appreciates a Hint of Flair

 Progressive + Run Compression Socks from CEP, $59.99 Again, 60 bucks for socks may sound moderately absurd, but these socks are seriously the cat’s pajamas and your favorite runner wants them for Christmas, so stop being such a cheap skate. There is some scientific evidence that compression socks increase performance and expedite recovery for runners. These often-colorful knee-high socks are also extremely trendy on the race day fashion scene and they just feel downright fantastic, especially when you find yourself on your feet all day after a long run . Read all about my thoughts on them and the science behind them here. In my humble opinion, CEP compression socks are particularly awesome because they offer the best blend of graduated medical grade compression technology (more  on that here.) and fast and fabulous color options for coordinating with your every race day and/or recovery outfit.

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CEP compression socks: Medical grade graduated compression to make you fast. Fun and exciting colors to make you fabulous.

The Ulti-Mitt from Saucony, $45.00 The glove/ mitten combo or “glittens” as I like to call them (not to be confused with Shittens, which we will get to later) are a cold weather running essential in my book. These handy (pun intended) little winter accessories have got you, or at least your hands covered no matter what cold weather comes your way. Their lightweight wind and water-resistant mitts keep your hands toasty on the coldest and windiest of days, and can easily be stashed in the glove’s front pocket in more hospitable, but still glove worthy weather. Most major running apparel companies make some variation of the glitten, but I especially like my Ulti-Mitts from Saucony because they feature a convertible thumb and forefinger  (extremely helpful for glove-wearing dexterity) and they come in an exciting variety of obnoxious high-vis colors, including but not limited to pink and coral. Doesn’t your favorite runner deserve the hand warmth versatility and increased visibility of a good brightly colored pair glittens? I think we both know the answer to that question.

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Highly visible colors, hand warmth and comfort in any and all cold weather, and optimal glove-wearing dexterity! What’s not to love about the Ulti-Mitt from Saucony?!

 Arm Warmers from Oiselle, $30.00 Every runner who has their sights set on a big spring goal race needs a pair of arm warmers. Arm warmers are the things that save us the hassle of the throw-away long sleeve shirt when it is 40 degrees at the start line. They are also easily stashable or removable should the temperature climb to 60 degrees before we reach the finish.  Yes,  arm warmers are a revolutionary cool weather racing accessory, plus they just make you feel fast. Here’s proof from professional runner for Oiselle and arm warmer enthusiast, Kate Grace, and also from my friend and general workout champion Liz, who likes arm warmers so much she uses them for various basic domestic tasks as well as running. I’ve even been known to pair them with formal wear. In case you haven’t noticed, I may have a bit of a Oiselle bias, but their arm warmers are seriously baller and far and away my favorite on the market. #thumbholesFTW, plus ALL THE FUN COLORS! Well don’t just sit there, order a pair already!

Thumb holes and fun color options get the thumbs up!

Thumb holes and fun color options always get the thumbs up!

 Knuckle Lights, $39.99 Nothing says “I love you, special runner person in my life, and your safety is important to me!” quite like new set of Knuckle Lights. As the name indicates, Knuckle Lights are LED lights with the purpose of illuminating one’s low-light run that are worn, wait for it…on the knuckles. They do an excellent job evenly distributing light ahead of and to the sides of you as you run. This helps to eliminate the scary tunnel vision that can sometimes come with running with a headlamp. Knuckle Lights are comparable to a standard headlamp in terms of both light output and price point, but they offer a fresh, new perspective of what’s in your periphery and a bounce-free means of carrying your light source. They are also much handier than a traditional headlamp for sharing with friends. Brighten up someone’s holiday this year by giving the gift of Knuckle Lights! (Check out a complete Fast and Fabulous review of Knuckle Lights here.)

Knuckle lights add safety and illumination to both outdoor low-light running and pretend running in your living room. They are also prefect for sharing with friends.

Knuckle lights add safety and illumination to both outdoor low-light running and pretend running in your living room. They are also prefect for sharing with friends.

Amusing Novelty Items and Stocking Stuffers

 Runderwear Runderwear is a general term for comfy, running specific (?) underpants with cheeky running-themed saying written across the butt. Runderwear makes a fabulous gift because it is fun and whimsical and like many other options listed in this gift guide it screams “I got you this running-themed gift because I know you like running and it is important to you!”, but it is not an especially technical item like as shoes, sports bras, GPS watches etc. Of course all these products make fabulous, thoughtful gifts as well, but runners can be SUPER PARTICULAR AND ANAL about that stuff. So I say when in doubt, keep it novel and lighthearted and buy the runderwear.  Oiselle’s Randies come in a 3-pack for $48.00. Or if you are just looking for a single serving of runderwear, check out Saucony’s Runderpants at $18.00 to $20.00 a pop. I especially like the ones that say “Get used to the view.”

Randies and Runderpants take "cheeky sayings" to a whole new level.

Randies and Runderpants take “cheeky sayings” to a whole new level. Photo Source: oiselle.com and saucony.com.

 

Shwings, $7.00 to $8.95 Shwings are wings for your shoes. This fact alone makes them awesome. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure they make you run faster, and I KNOW that they make you smile every time you look down and see them on your shoes, which is why I never race without them. The runner that you love shouldn’t have to either. Shwings come in a vast array of colors, textures, and prints to compliment even the most seemingly un-matchable neon racing flats. They can be purchased online here and here, or at your local Michael’s craft store if you’re lucky.

Shwings may or may not make you run faster, but they most definitely make your shoes look more awesome!

Shwings may or may not make you run faster, but they most definitely make your shoes look more awesome!

Shittens, $9.95 Don’t even act like you didn’t see this one coming. We all know that poop stories are the glue the binds the running community together. If the runner on your shopping list tells you any different this can only mean one of two things: (1) They are lying to you. (2) They have not yet established a group of running friends with whom they feel comfortable sharing their poop stories. It is only a matter of time until this happens. This common bond of sharing poop stories and the experiences behind said stories are the reasons that your favorite runner would absolutely delight in getting their very own pack of Shittens for Christmas. In case you haven’t read any other blog post I have written ever, Shittens are mitten-shaped wet wipes. They are useful for many things ranging from, umm, code brown situations to freshening up after a particularly dusty/ sweaty run to cleaning window marker of your Ragnar rental van. Shittens are also sure to provide unlimited holiday laughs for the whole family. Check out the catchy Shittens jingle below, and then order some right now, ‘cause poop is gross.

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Save the runner in your life from getting caught brown handed by giving the gift of Shittens.


Sparkly Soul Headbands, $15.00 to $17.00 Every runner girl needs a little bit of bling in their world.  As a lover of all that glitters, and the proud owner of a short haircut I am a huge fan of a good non-discriminatory, sparkly hair accessory. That’s why I love Sparkly Soul headbands.  They are useful and flattering for gals with all imaginable hair lengths and types! Additionally, they are the only headache free AND slip-free headband I have encountered in my running specialty career thus far. And this is coming from a person who has tried A LOT running headbands! Give the gift of bling-tastic, sans-headache accessorization this holiday season with Sparkly Soul!

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Sparkly Soul headbands: Blingy, non-slip, head ache-free hair flair adored by long and short hair styles alike!

And there you have it, folks. Eleven fast, fabulous, under-$100 gifts that your favorite runner will surely be hella-pumped to unwrap on Christmas morning. Happy shopping, and Happy Holidays to all!

What’s on your running holiday wish list? Please fill me in on any awesome stuff I might have overlooked in the comments!

Other Running Gift Guides I Like…

Bull City Running Co.’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide Run local, shop local!

A Dose of Running’s Guide to Gifts on a Grad School Budget

Lauren Fleshman’s Fleshmaniac Gift Guide

rUnladylike’s Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Runners and Triathletes

The Obligatory Disclaimer… I own, use, and love all of the products cited in this post. None of them were given to me for free and all opinions are my own.

Words of Gratitude…

The biggest shout out to Kara and Monte for the professional level high-resolution photo shoot. Guys, The Fast and the Fabulous has never looked more fabulous! All the love to y’all for taking and being in all these pics. The only thing that separated this photo shoot from perfection was the absence of Cat Santa. Next year.

As always, love to Allie and my 8-year-old BFF Z  for cheerfully accommodating my silly blog musings. And above all, thanks to all of you for reading.

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Knuckle Lights: Not as Ridiculous as You Might Think

This December I was fortunate enough to attend The Running Event in Austin, TX. For those of you who don’t know, this is giant, fantastic trade show featuring running specialty retailers and all of their latest, greatest products from near and far. I was on a mission to find exciting new cutting edge products for the store where I work. I was given a list of several different things to scope out and at the top of it was Knuckle Lights… “Knuckle Lights, sounds like a product I might get made fun of for using,” I thought to myself. But I procured my trial set of Knuckle Lights nonetheless, and upon my return home I set out to try them.

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Knuckle Lights: Check out the specs for yourself!

Knuckle Lights are precisely what you think they are. They are essentially headlamps, but worn, you guessed it, on the knuckles. The set of two lights offers 45 lumens across 4 LED’s per hand, providing what the Knuckles Lights guy at The Running Event described as “an even, bounce-free light.” Knuckle Lights also claim on their packaging that they illuminate a larger area than their single light source headlamp competitors. So, I dragged myself out of bed at o’dark-thirty to see if the Knuckle Lights could, in fact, oust my trusty, albeit sometimes bouncy, tunnel-vision-inducing headlamp as my preferred means of illumination for running in the dark.

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Taking the Knuckle Lights out on their inaugural run… They’re looking pretty baller so far!

Knuckle Lights Skepticism and Benefits:

Knuckle Lights proclaim themselves to be “fully adjustable”, but I was skeptical that their rudimentary silicon strap adjustment system  would adjust to a size small enough to stay put on my debatably smaller than average hands. I’ve yet to try the Knuckle Lights without gloves, as I have only used them in cold weather thus far, but as it turns out, I’ve had zero problems with the lights moving or slipping on my gloved hands. I was also a little worried that I might decide that I hate holding the lights and want to ditch them early in the run, but even after a hardy 8 miles I found them to be pretty light-weight and non-invasive. Furthermore, I did really appreciate how the Knuckle Lights illuminated objects in my periphery as well as what was directly in front of me, and I think it is safe to say that a light on each hand does offer a more functional and less frightening range of light distribution than a single-beam headlamp. Another nice thing about Knuckle Lights is the fact that there are 2 of them, which makes them perfect for sharing with friends who run at different paces. My Knuckle Lights  maiden voyage was a speed workout with a faster friend. When it was time for her to speed up and leave me behind, it was pretty cool to split up the light set so both of our runs were a little brighter.

Thanks to Knuckle Lights my speedy friend Bigs and I can both enjoy a well-lit workout, even as I eat her dust!

Thanks to Knuckle Lights my speedy friend Bigs and I can both enjoy a well-lit workout, even as I eat her dust!

The Darker Side of Knuckle Lights:

Some of the downsides of Knuckle Lights include possible temporary blindness should you accidentally shine them directly in your eyes when you lift your arm to look at your watch. Also, those AAA batteries won’t last forever, and they may need replacing sooner rather than later if your Knuckle Lights (unbeknownst to you) stay turned on all day inside your gym bag.  And then there is always this risk of ridicule from your running friends and running store co-workers because you are using a product called Knuckle Lights… But all in all, I would say that the positives out-weigh the negatives, and that Knuckle Lights are pretty handy little invention as well as a nice headlamp alternative.

The gym bag accidental leave-on, a serious Knuckle Lights no-no.

The gym bag accidental leave-on, a serious Knuckle Lights no-no.

Knuckle Lights Go Head-to-Head with Headlamps:

I’ve put together this handy headlamp vs. Knuckle Lights comparison for your convenience…

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It’s a Knuckle Lights vs Headlamps Showdown!

Price: $39.99 for Knuckle Lights vs. $39.95 for the Petzel Tikka Plus 2 headlamp

Light Output: 4 white LEDs per light for a total of 90 lumens for Knuckle Lights vs. 1 white LED with max output of 70 lumens, plus red LED source for the Tikka Plus 2.

Modes: 3 Modes for Knuckle Lights: Economic, Maximum, and Strobe vs. 5 Modes for Tikka Plus 2: Economic, Maximum, and Strobe, plus Max and Strobe for red light source.

Power Source: 4 AAA batteries (2 per light) for Knuckle Lights vs. 3 AAA batteries for Tikka Plus 2.

All things considered, I think we’re splitting hairs when it comes to picking a winner specs and price wise. It’s true that the headlamps offers a few more options in terms of modes, and I have found the red LED mode to be particularly useful for not blinding friends when sitting around the campfire or chilling out in the van while waiting for my late-night leg of  some overnight relay race. However, I can’t think of a time that I have actually utilized the red mode for running purposes. You also save 1 AAA battery if you go the headlamp route, but you get 20 extra lumens of light with Knuckle Lights. That’s a wash if you ask me.

Ultimately, I think the great headlamp vs. knuckle lights debate comes down to personal preference. If you find your headlamp to be nauseatingly bouncy and limiting in the way of peripheral  vision, then by all means, give Knuckle Lights a go. I think you’ll really like them! On the other hand, if handheld water bottles and other hand-centric running accessories kind of creep you out, then stick with the classic headlamp.

In any event, I think that Knuckle Lights are an entirely legitimate and practical headlamp alternative for low-light running, and that makes them fast and fabulous! Do YOU have any strong feelings regarding the Knuckle Lights vs headlamps debate???

Learn more about Knuckle Lights and purchase them here: http://www.knucklelights.com