What Christmas gift should you get the runner in your life? Yes, they asked for new running shoes or a fancy GPS watch, but that’s just boring.

After recently talking to the wonderful people at ReRun it would be poor form of us to recommend bowing down to commercialism and spending hundreds of pounds on some pieces of plastic that may or may not make you run faster.

If there are holes in their shoes and their last surviving race t-shirt has rabies then maybe they need kit, but always ask the question.

So if we’re not buying “things” what can we buy for our loved ones?

Buy a tree, not a tee

Adopting a sloth is so 2019, so why not give all your friends and family a tree for Christmas? A real life tree is cumbersome and difficult to wrap, so Trees not Tees have got your back. You don’t even need to keep it in your flat.

“Choosing to plant a tree means you give a long-lasting, memorable present and make a positive impact towards reversing climate change,” say the environment initiative.  “All the trees we plant are native broadleaf species as part of our sustainable reforestation across the UK – always planting the right tree, in the right place.”

This gift is especially great if you’re reading this on 24th December and can’t find anything good in your local petrol station.

It’s all in the mind

Think outside that box. Do you know someone who is always at the front in training, but never gets the PB they want? Could there be a stumbling block that isn’t physical? There are several books, such as Dr. Steve Peters’ ‘Chimp Paradox’ that broach the subject but the experts might be an excellent option.

It might not feel like much and be seen as a strange Christmas present, but in the years to come it could be the one they look back on as key to their running successes. Someone like Dr. Josephine Perry has a good grasp of the running mind and the challenges it might face. 

The race entry 

It may be coming harder and harder to get in those dream races, but there are plenty around they offer affordable, exciting adventures on road or trails. You could be a little selfish and pick one somewhere you want to visit too, get matching race entries or just pick one on the weekend you want the house to yourself.

Maybe don’t enter a 100 miler for them if they’ve only just run their first parkrun, but races in strange places are a gift that will get them excited and have something to look forward to until game day.

Next year might not be one for making plans in advance, but it might be just the light at the end of the COVID tunnel needed.

An adventure

For the more adventurous you don’t need to just book a race, you could plan an adventure. This has changed with COVID as well, but only that you might have to explore more of the British Isles.

Finding somewhere new to run within the UK and Ireland is easy as we have such beautiful hills all around us. Even using the extensive Youth Hostel Association across the UK means an affordable trip away somewhere beautiful is never too far away.

It could just be a bit of parkrun tourism, trying a new event somewhere.

Photo: parkrun UK

Of course though we want runners to think sustainably whether its with races and there is a world to explore at your front door with less environmental impact so don’t always think you need to jump on a plane.

Good books

There’s some good books out there but if you want to save some paper there are e-book and audio book options.

That said, there’s only one book I’m going to be recommending at this time: 1001 Running Tips: the essential runners guide by yours truly. Now this may seem like a shameless plug of my own book, but even if you only enjoy 10% of the tips in the book that’s still 100.1 tips.

Here’s a taster: Tip 799. Of all the kit to compromise on to save weight, head torches are the worst option. It’s a false economy, especially if running on trails.

You could also visit a publishers returns website, like Vertebrate’s Seconds and Sales, where books returned from shops with minor scuffs are available for great prices too.

Preloved run clothing

They were the inspiration for this article and if new kit is really needed then why not look at some preloved gear on the ReRun website. Dan Lawson and Charlotte Jalley are prolonging the life of running kit, helping it keep out of landfill, even if just for a wee while longer.

Even better are their up-cycled vests and t-shirts. The bold juxtaposition of colours stand out in any crowd and you’re doing a good thing too. Check out the website and find the perfect present today. 

The gift of knowledge 

The next step on your runner’s journey might be one of knowledge. Something like the Uni of Kent’s physiology in endurance course on line at Future Learn could be an insightful gift that helps them improve their own performance and racing.

Knowing a little bit more about your body, psychology and training could lead to much bigger, longer lasting improvements then a fancy new watch and they might even be able to help other runners down the club too.

Another great option are the Nav4 adventure courses with Joe Faulkner and Stuart Smith. If you want your loved one to be safer in the mountains then there’s no one I’d recommend more than Joe and Stu. Years of ultra running and mountain experience and a lovely chap to boot. From one to one coaching, night navigation courses and a range of events too you should check them out.

Map it out

Owen Delaney is a modern day cartographer and his work really is art. Commissions by the London based artist make a beautiful gift and can be based on a race route, a favourite map or a dream journey for the future.

Check him out on Instagram or one of the Centurion Running t-shirts being proudly worn by the 50 and 100 mile finishers. There’s even a host of prints you can order on the website if the person you want to buy a gift for has already done one of them.

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