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Best Christmas gifts for runners

Christmas gifts for runners
(Image credit: TechRadar)
Christmas gift guides

We're bringing you a tech-focused Christmas gift guide every day up to the big day itself, to help fuel your present buying inspiration.

Day 1: Apple fans | 2: Photographers | 3: Switch gamers | 4: Xbox gamers | 5: PS4 games | 6: Retro gamers | 7: PC gamers |  8: Lego fans | 9: Music lovers | 10: Mobile gamers | 11: Home cinema dreamers | 12: Home cooks | 13: Smart home starter kit | 14: Tech for kids |  15: Fitness fans | 16: Creatives | 17: Runners | 18: Commuters |  19: Pet owners | 20: Those who have everything

We know why you're here: you're buying a gift for a runner. We know you're not a massive runner because you'd already have what you wanted - we runners are notorious for buying the expensive stuff we really want (and then hiding the receipt).

There's no judgement at Christmas though, and you, a lovely gift-giver, want to get to the stuff they'd actually like. Please don't get us runners a book about running (unless specified previously and confirmed as unread), or just some random socks* or trainers that were on sale at your local sports shop - we've got that covered.

This gift guide is for things that every runner would like to have and, if they've already got one, would love another because - let's face it - we go through them like water if we're running more than a couple of times a week.

So just because the thought of people SEEING YOU run fills you with terror, doesn't mean you can't be the very best gift-giver for your friend / partner / parent / offspring who's weird enough to actually enjoy pounding around outside more than you think is healthy.

*OK, this part was a lie. If you're sure you can't get them socks, you're mega wrong. We runners love socks, and the more expensive they are, generally, the more we'll love them. In fact, go nuts with all running gear - get the size right and we're jubilant that it's not slippers.

Garmin Forerunner 245

(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

A great entry-level Garmin

Loads of fitness tracking
Spotify on board
Slightly more expensive
No Garmin Pay

Finally I could get rid of the Garmin Forerunner 235 from this list - while that's great (and now a lot cheaper, so an option if you're really on a budget) the 245 has emerged, bringing so many more features with it.

Go for the 245 Music if you can get it (linked above) as that comes with Spotify integration, which is a godsend if you want to leave your phone at home - and you can hear music on the go.

It's a touch more expensive, but really it's a great entry-level watch for someone who wants to take the step up this year - the all-round fitness tracking really is superb.

Zwift RunPod

A low-cost way to destroy mundane treadmill running

Low cost
Easy to improve treadmill runs
Doesn't have power measurement

I tried Zwift Running last year, and I found it a really engaging way to get over the mundanity of treadmills. Plonk an iPad in front of you on a treadmill (or run in front of a TV with Apple TV) and you’ll see your avatar following your speeds through a virtual world.

However, it was quite expensive to get into - even if you have an iPad already, you either need a compatible treadmill or a footpod from Stryd, which wasn't cheap.

Well, now Zwift has launched its own, and for a lower cost than some might expect - you’re getting speed and distance data, and a calibration directly set up for the Zwift experience. It's growing slowly in popularity, so if your loved one uses a treadmill a lot and wants to get cracking, this is an option.

The only irritant is you need a monthly membership to Zwift, and there's no 'runners only' mode - you have to get the cycling too, which you might not use a lot. At least you get a gift card to that too.

Hyperice Vyper 2.0

Give your muscles the treat they deserve

Brilliant for recovery
Genuinely different
Not super portable

This is a no-brainer for me: yes, it’s expensive but at the same time it’s an indispensable part of my running arsenal. 

The vibration can go to crazy-strong levels, and it honestly feels like someone gets inside your tired muscles and washes them clean after - check out my more in-depth look to see just how enamored I am.

A year on, I'm still using this whenever I'm feeling like I want to be 'good' and do my cool down properly... just don't use it upstairs, or it will make the whole house shake.

(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Forerunner 945

Literally everything on the wrist

Spotify inside
Can track pretty much anything
Expensive

This is the watch I wear daily, and I'd want one massively if I didn't have one. The base model is brilliant, the heart-rate monitor underneath now actually useful and the sleek nature means it's an actual watch too.

I love that it has Spotify on board. I use the 'Body Battery' to tell me how truly rested I am. Garmin Connect is a brilliant app that I use regularly - and it syncs straight to Strava too.

The GPS connection can be a tiny, tiny bit slower than some others out there - but I'm really splitting hairs here. For the marathon runner / triathlete / over-zealous fitness fan, this is a top choice (and they've probably already dropped numerous hints about it already).

(Image credit: Aftershokz)

Aftershokz Aeropex

Brilliant bone-conducting headphones for runners

So lightweight
Improved sound
Bone conduction not for all

OK, I know that I've done it again: recommended something a little too expensive. I'll give you an option right now - the lower-cost Aftershokz Titanium are probably a good starting point.

But if you can, upgrade to the Aeropex models. Seriously. The sound quality is so much better, they're the most comfortable bone-conducting headphones I've ever used and man alive, it's so cool to be able to hear outside safely and listen to podcasts or music.

The former, the podcast, wasn't really an option before without whacking the volume up - but with improved vocal clarity, these are a great choice.

Nokia 3310

A great choice for MP3s and podcasts

Robust
Can totally play Snake
No Spotify compatibility

We all need a phone as runners, but your intended giftee probably already has a smartphone and you're not willing to buy them a new handset just to let them run better.

However, this phone from Nokia is a strong choice for three reasons: firstly, it's got a microSD card slot so you can load it up with music from that dusty old MP3 selection (sadly this isn't Spotify compatible), and with monster battery life you'll easily be able to get through any distance of run without it losing charge.

Secondly, it's pretty darn cheap as you can see with the prices above - yes, it's a secondary phone, but it'll also be a great festival / leave in the car / dammit, my iPhone is out of battery handset to have around.

Thirdly, it's a properly strong little unit: accidentally chuck this onto a path mid run and you won't need to worry about it being instantly covered in smashes.

Flipbelt

A simple way to carry your stuff around

Simple to use
Barely know that it's on
Sucks up sweat

It looks like a belt. It kind of is. But it's a perfect stocking filler - it's a band that flips around your waist to hold your phone, keys and cards.

Previously I used the Running Buddy, a magnetic purse that clipped onto your shorts really strongly, but could pull them down if you ran too fast. Don't ask how I know that*.

The Flipbelt is so unobtrusive I forget it's there half the time - you can slip a phone in with ease, there's a clip for keys and you can even buy running water bottles to slip in as well.

*on an unrelated note, maybe buy them some shorts with a strong drawstring.