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The best gifts for runners in 2023

From sweat-proof earbuds to foam rollers, these are gifts any runner will appreciate.

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Whether or not you understand your loved one’s desire to wake up before sunrise and get in a 5K is irrelevant when it comes to gifting. Athletes, especially runners, are pretty easy to shop for since they can never have too many of the essentials like socks, gloves, foam rollers, trackers and more. There are plenty of things you can get them that will make their runs more enjoyable, or help them recover more efficiently so they can best yesterday’s time today. Here are the best gift ideas for runners for this year’s holiday shopping season.

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Massages are expensive and, let’s face it, most people don’t have the time or funds to go get them regularly. But you can give the runner in your life a way to care for their aching muscles on their own time. The Theragun Mini’s compact size will make it easy for them to keep it by their bedside or even throw it in their gym bag. It has three speeds that allow the user to treat sensitive areas or larger muscle groups appropriately. Plus its ergonomic grip and lightweight design make it comfortable to hold. Whether they use it once a week as part of a bigger recovery routine or after every workout, it’s a tool that every runner will appreciate having at their disposal. – Valentina Palladino, Senior Commerce Editor

$149 at Amazon
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$199 at Backcountry$150 at Target

Gift this to the runner in your life who loves to crank out some morning miles and then carb-load immediately after. Rise and Run is the third and most recent cookbook from Olympian and marathon champion Shalane Flanagan. (She’s perhaps best known for being the first American woman in 40 years to win the New York City Marathon. Either that, or for her colorful language.) Whereas her two earlier books offered a fairly broad sampling, her latest installment instead focuses on everyone’s favorite meal: breakfast. (And also, snacks. Who doesn’t love snacks?)

I own Flanagan’s first cookbook, Run Fast. Eat Slow, and have come back to her wholesome Superhero Muffins repeatedly. (They’re so good, you won’t even taste the shredded zucchini and carrot.) Apparently that recipe stuck with lots of other people too, because Flanagan’s latest cookbook really leans into muffins, with 24 new Superhero recipes all told, including a mix of sweet and savory. Beyond muffins, though, the book also has other breakfast recipes, plus recovery drinks and baked goodies like cookies and bars. As a bonus, it’s also vegetarian friendly, with 107 recipes, 52 that are vegan, and another 26 that could easily be modified to a vegan diet. – Dana Wollman, Editor-in-Chief

$15 at Amazon
ROLL Recovery

Imagine a set of rollerblade wheels with handlebars attached and you’ve basically got Roll Recovery’s signature muscle roller. Although I own multiple rolling devices, this is the one I’m most likely to pick up, owing to the fact that I don’t have to lie on the floor to use it. Just clamp the wheels around your quads, hamstrings or calves like it’s some sort of medieval torture device and roll yourself out. It hurts, but in a good way. Besides how effective it is and the fact that I can use it while lying on the couch, I like that you can toss it in the included pouch and tuck the whole thing in a carry-on. Consider this for your sore distance runner friend who likes traveling for races – and could probably do a better job stretching. – D.W.

$139 at Amazon
SPIbelt

Don’t let the skinny, unassuming design fool you. As discreet as Spibelts look (more so than fanny packs, anyway), their stretchy material can expand to fit various items that runners might be carrying with them, including keys, a credit card and large-screen phones like the iPhone Pro Max. Between its low price and how compact they are, a Spibelt would make a great stocking stuffer for the runner in your life. I would also argue that, even if they already own one, you can’t have too many – you can always use a spare when the other is in the wash. – D.W.

$23 at Verizon

There are few things worse than your sock slipping off into the abyss of your running shoe when you’re just hitting your stride. Bombas’ running socks, specifically the quarter-height versions, virtually eliminate this. They hit about an inch or two above the ankle, giving them enough height to fight unwanted slippage and south-bound movement. The fabric is also great, too, with moisture-wicking properties and good breathability thanks to Bombas’ Hex Tec construction. The last thing any athlete wants, runners included, is for their clothing to get in the way of their progress. – V.P.

$54 at Bombas
Trigger Point Performance

Trigger Point makes what I imagine is the most ubiquitous foam roller – you know, the orange cylindrical one you’ve probably seen at your local gym or physical therapist’s office. Chances are your runner friend already owns that, but perhaps they could still use the company’s more compact travel version. At just 10 inches long, 4.4 inches in diameter and less than a pound, the Grid Travel should fit easily into a weekend bag. And, as a bonus, Trigger Point’s signature hollow core design makes the perfect place for stuffing miscellany like socks if you’re trying to pack as efficiently as possible. – D.W.

$36 at Amazon
Yoga Toes

I first heard about Yoga Toes through a friend who’s a running coach, Ultramarathoner and who has worked at a physical therapy practice. They basically look like the things that separate your toes when you get a pedicure. Here, though, they work to stretch out the small muscles in and around your toes, which the company says can both treat and prevent conditions that include hammer toes, plantar fasciitis and bunions. They’re available in sizes meant for men and women, and the design is adjustable in the event the default amount of stretch is a little too intense. – D.W.

$37 at Amazon

I love running in the cold, but my fingers do not. When I first discovered how much I preferred the chill of fall and winter running, it was pretty easy for me to gather the gear I’d need to pursue this and save my butt from freezing in the process. But the piece of the puzzle that eluded me that most was hand protection. After trying numerous gloves and mittens, I found TrailHeads’ Power Stretch Fingerless Gloves and now I sing their praises to every runner who will listen. The mitten flaps fold over your fingers, covering them and trapping in body heat better than any other alternative I’ve tried. They fold neatly away into the top pocket when you actually need your fingers free, and the dedicated thumb flaps snap into place using discrete magnets when you don’t need them. On top of that, the fabric is pretty comfortable and the reflective accents signal your location to others in dark environments. If you have someone on your list who’s just getting into running, or who already understands the pleasures of mid-winter training, TrailHeads’ gloves are a great gift choice. – V.P.

$38 at Amazon

It’s unwise, to say the least, to go out in the darkness for an early morning or late evening run without a way to see what’s in front of you — and a way for others to see you. Apace Vision’s LED Safety Lights will be a welcome addition to any runner’s gear thanks to their small, lightweight design and powerful LEDs that can be seen from up to 1,000 feet away. Not only are they quite small, but they have built-in clips that make it easy to attach them to shoes or pockets, and the included straps make it so runners can wear them on their wrist or arm if they prefer. They support three light modes, steady, slow flash and fast flash, and they come with a small screwdriver to use when their batteries need changing. The lights are also IPX4 waterproof, so you won’t have to worry if they take an accidental dunk in a pond. – V.P.

$19 at Amazon
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

It used to be that when recommending a GPS running watch for a gift roundup or shopping guide, I would default to Garmin’s midrange Forerunner 200-series. But, so many of Garmin’s best features have trickled down into their entry-level watches that for most people, it doesn’t make sense to get something fancier than that. That includes a mix of tools to both track your fitness and prepare for races.

On the fitness side, the Forerunner 55 gives you a built-in heart monitor, along with stress and respiration tracking. If you have a race coming up, you can enjoy the adaptive Garmin Coach feature, along with suggested workouts, cadence alerts, recommended recovery times, a race time predictor, and a predicted finish time (for when you’re actually mid-race). And when it’s time to cross-train, the Forerunner 55 tracks various other kinds of cardio activities too, not just treadmill and outdoor running. – D.W.

$60 at Amazon
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

My go-to workout earbuds are actually the Beats Powerbeats Pro, but I realize their over-the-ear hook design could be too dorky for some. If you’re looking for a gift that your runner friends can use during a workout and really any other time, the Beats Fit Pro true wireless earbuds are a more versatile option. In our review, we praised the comfortable fit, active noise canceling performance and its seamless performance with iPhones (though, you could still pair it with an Android handset). – D.W.

$160 at Amazon
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$160 at Walmart$200 at Verizon

Yes, you could go running in your regular sunglasses. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to feel comfortable. Normal sunglasses can be heavy, with slick plastic that slips once you start sweating. A lot of the runners I know own Goodr glasses, which have a lightweight, slip-resistant design along with anti-glare lenses. Their low $25 asking price makes them an ideal gift and, with so many color options, it should be easy to find something that fits your giftee’s sense of style. – D.W.

$25 at Amazon
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$25 at marathon sports