Yes it’s that time of year again – the time where everyone asks everyone else what they want for Christmas. It seems the standard thing to do, rather than, you know, actually put any real thought into what somebody might actually like or find useful.
I’ve been there. Socks I tend to say, mostly because good running socks are pretty expensive, but opening four or five pairs on the big day is a little bit shit. Add in a multipack of Chomp bars and maybe they can pull it back some, but it’s still not exactly exciting.
So here’s an idea – you know a runner right? Doesn’t matter what level they’re at, they could be just thinking about it or they could be veterans, the principle is the same. You want to buy them something that they’re going to enjoy this Christmas but you don’t want to spend hundreds of pounds. Well, how about this for an idea.
Step back and see where they are on their running journey, then think about what might go through the mind a runner this time of year (other than what to tell people they want for Christmas). It’s similar questions for most runners: What am I going to do next year? Where am I going to run? How far? Who with? Why?
Who Are You?
It could be starting running, training more, or racing harder. Starting the year running however means running through the winter. To do that you need focus, motivation, and people to run with. Where better to do that than at a parkrun event? They’re regular, free, timed and everywhere. Little bundles of 5K magic every week.
The thing is parkrun is already free so you might think that’s not much of a gift, but how about accompanying somebody along to one if they won’t want to go by themselves? Help get somebody out of the front door every Saturday whatever the weather. Sometimes the best gifts cost nothing. Your time is one.
Once you’ve got them running at parkrun there really isn’t much you actually need to do other than turn up and run. The one thing you do need is your barcode. Sure you can print one out, but this is winter, how long is that going to last in the rain? Inkjet? Don’t make me laugh.
How about getting a pack of barcode cards? You can get either credit card sized cards or even keyring sized barcodes.
The cards are authorised by parkrun and professionally printed on PVC. You can even add an ICE number to them too.
How much does such plastic fantastic cost? A pack of three keyring sized cards will set you back just £4.26. A real bargain and sure to last the winter.
What if they don’t want to carry a card at all with them? Easy, you can also now get parkrun wristbands with barcodes and ICE information too.
But parkrun of course is only on a Saturday, what about ICE details when you’re out running the rest of the time? Luckily there are a raft of companies offering ID bands/tags/bracelets for a small fee. One such company is Tagnix, who can also provide custom engraving with club logos and the like.
Something like a simple single engraved dog tag with a silencer and chain will only set you back around £10. A small price to pay for peace of mind. Website: http://tagnix.co.uk/
Another approach is something like the Cram Alert wristband. Steve Cram’s brother, Kevin, died whilst out running in 2002. He had no form of ID on him and it took 48 hours to identify him.
A Cram Alert band has a unique ID number on it together with a freephone number. If you do have an accident whilst out running, then whoever finds you has a point of contact that will immediately identify you. The service is available 24-hours a day 365 days of the year and manned by the Cram-Alert Emergency Response Team.
Inspire, Motivate, Move
So once your runner is running and clocking up some miles what about the days when they don’t feel like it? The cold, the wet, the tired days. That’s when a touch of inspiration and motivation could work some magic.
Many people have their reasons for wanting to run, some for fitness others for weight loss, some just for the challenge, but whatever the purpose everyone needs a kick and a slap every now and then to tell them they can do it and that they’re not being stupid. We all need a bit of encouragement and reassurance sometimes.
Think about quotes that inspire them, people they like, or the challenges they are taking on, then find a quote that suits.
There are plenty of signmakers around who can cut you a custom message in self-adhesive vinyl. Here’s one, Icon Wall Stickers, who have a great stock set as well as a custom service. Website: http://www.iconwallstickers.co.uk/
What about books? Everyone likes a good rousing story to make them feel like they can do it, that they aren’t crazy for taking on seemingly impossible challenges.
There are literally hundreds of great books out there with inspiring content and stories that can move you. A quick search around Amazon or your local Waterstones (other running bookstores are available) will bring up a bundle.
For me (like many others) Dean Karnazes‘ first book Ultramarathon Man opened my eyes to the world of ultrarunning. It showed me that such things were even possible. It took a while, but that book made a big difference to me and to my running.
It’s not a new book, and you don’t even have to be interested in ultramarathon running to read it, it’s just a great tale. Entertaining and eye-opening.
More recently, British ultrarunner James Adams published his own book of ultramarathon tales, Running And Stuff. As with Karnazes’ book this is a true story of what is possible when you put your mind to it. If James’ running history doesn’t get you off the sofa then I don’t know what will.
A few months ago I wrote a list of Summer Reading For Runners. These books are all my choices for great reads and would all make a nice inexpensive gift (especially my own award-winning book, Fat Man To Green Man – hint hint, wink wink, buy it).
What about if the person you’re buying for is a techno nerd and prefers ebooks as opposed to good old paper? Well for some reason, although Amazon in the US allow for the gifting of ebooks, in the UK they don’t. But fear not there is an easy way around that.
Firstly don’t just think that you can only read Kindle books (other formats are available) on a Kindle device. You can get a free Kindle application for pretty much any device, allowing you to buy Kindle books from Amazon and read them anywhere, on a phone, tablet, or computer.
So how can you gift and ebook? Simple, just buy a personalised voucher with a custom message, an image of the book cover on it and even the URL of the book in the voucher body. All they need to do is click on the link and then enter the voucher code. Simple. Website: Amazon Voucher Site
Now they’re running the local parkrun with their barcode, they are being inspired by the many great books you’ve bought them and the awesome message in the mirror every morning, but what is the goal? What target do they have? How about entering them for a race?
It could be anything from the local Rotary Club 10K to an ultramarathon on the other side of the world. Running is a great way to see the world, why not plan a trip around a race?
Where do you find out about these races though? You could sit in front of a computer and scour the depths of the internet, or you could use one of the popular sites chocked full of race listing and information.
For local races in and around the UK, check out the Run Britain website, it’s full of great races from a charity 5K to big city half an full marathons. Website: http://www.runbritain.com/races/
How about further afield? Fancy running around a classical European city, or the jungle of Malaysia? Then have a look at the unlikely sounding Ahotu. Website: http://marathons.ahotu.com/
Race entered, can you do anything else to help them get through it? Obviously you can train with them, get them through the tough miles and help support them when they need it, but what about on race day? If there is any skill in running at all it’s learning how to pace yourself and sticking to that pace.
Any runner who’s ever raced will tell you that standing on the start line you know how fast you plan to run and what pace that will be, but once that horn goes and the pack moves away at a rapid pace your brain turns to mush and you lose the ability to calculate your splits. You’re running, breathing and trying to add up seconds as you go. By the time you work it out the next mile marker is often long gone.
How can you fix that? Well learning to run steady is one way, but the other would be to work out your splits in advance and have them to hand. How about with a tattoo? No, not a permanent one, but a temporary one.
There are a few companies who create these, the one in the picture above is PaceTat. They offer a range of finishing times in tattoo form ready to apply on race day. They’re durable, cheap and much better than a scrappy paper band around your wrist. Website: http://www.pacetat.com/
Fancy creating a custom band, with your own custom pace or distance? Have a look at TazRunning who have a simple online tool to create your own. Website: http://www.tazrunning.com
Don’t want a tattoo? How about a custom made pace wristband? Website: http://www.pacebands.com
Cherish The Bling
Training done, inspired and motivated, race complete. Time to sit back and relish the achievement. But what an achievement, you don’t want them to forget about it. Make sure they remember it by helping them cherish their bling.
Why not stick their glory in a frame? There are plenty of framers around who will mount medals, photos and race numbers. What a great way to always be reminded of what they did, and by hanging it in the hallway everyone else will see it too.
This Ironman example was put together by Merica Framing in Bromsgrove. I’ve not used them myself, but they look like they do a grand job. Check them out, or look around your local area. Website: http://www.merciaframing.co.uk/
What happens if they already have a range of medals though? What do you do if they have planned more than one adventure? How about something to cater for more medals, like a medal hanger?
If they’re anything like me they will just throw all their race bling in a shoebox and forget about it. I am starting to warm to the idea of putting it all on display though. Maybe a hanger is my answer?
Runners Wall provide a wide range of laser-cut stainless steel hangers with a choice of messages or logos on the top, perfect for somebody with more medals than they know what to do with.
If they have already got a serious amount of medals then you can even get double height hangers. No Excuses. Website: http://runnerswall.co.uk/
Phew! Still with me? Good. I think that gives us a pretty good journey through the year of a runner and some different ideas for gifts for the runner you know.
It’s both a reward and a fuel. Carb load away guys, and what better way to do it with than this glass made just for that very purpose.
Hopefully this post will have prompted you with some different ideas for gifts this Christmas other than just socks.
Let me know if you have any other great gift ideas for runners. If you’re buying me a gift, stick with the beer.